Frequently Asked Questions

IMG_8070What medications or supplements are safe to take during pregnancy?

Medications cross the placenta and enter the baby’s bloodstream. Be sure to mention anything you are taking or have taken earlier in your pregnancy. Refer to our “Safe Medications” handout for a list of over-the-counter medications. Be sure to also mention any supplements that you are taking so your Women’s Care provider can discuss them with you.

Is it safe to travel during pregnancy?

Travel by air in commercial aircraft can be unrestricted until you are close to delivery (35-36 weeks). After 36-38 weeks, it is more prudent to stay close to home unless there are extenuating circumstances. Most airlines will refuse you passage in your last month unless you have a note from your doctor.

On long plane flights, walk around the plane every few hours and stretch your legs. Make sure you are well hydrated during these.

During a car trip, stop every couple of hours to walk and move around. Always wear both the lap and shoulder belt. Buckle the lap belt low on your hip bones, below your belly; never put the lap belt across your belly.

Can I have dental work?

A dental exam early in pregnancy will help ensure your mouth stays healthy. When you visit the dentist, let them know you are pregnant. Dental x-rays with abdominal shielding and Novocaine are safe in pregnancy. Most dental offices require a release from your physician; please let us know at least one week in advance of an upcoming appointment so we may provide the appropriate release.

IMG_9157When will I feel my baby move?

Most women feel movement between 16 to 20 weeks of pregnancy. During the second half of pregnancy, your baby’s movements will become stronger and more active. If you notice any decrease in your baby’s movement, be sure to let us know right away.

Is it safe to paint?

Avoid exposure to lead and oil-based paints. If you paint, use only latex paint in a well-ventilated area. Avoid exposure to paint removers, thinners and paint brush cleaning solution.

Can I have my hair colored, permed, or straightened?

Hair processing such as coloring, perms and straightening are found to be safe during pregnancy.

Are hot tubs, baths and saunas safe?

A warm bath can be a safe and relaxing treat during pregnancy. But, it is not safe for you to become overheated in a hot tub, very hot bath, or sauna. We recommend avoiding hot tubs during your pregnancy.

Can I have caffeine?

Caffeine is found in coffee, cola, energy drinks, soft drinks, teas, and chocolate. At this time, there is no proof that small amounts of caffeine are harmful to the fetus. We recommend limiting your caffeine intake to two (6 oz) caffeine drinks per day.

Is cigarette smoke harmful to my unborn baby?

Yes, if a woman smokes during pregnancy, her baby is exposed to harmful chemicals such as tar, nicotine, and carbon monoxide. Smoking also increases the risk of miscarriage, still birth, a low birth weight baby, SIDS, and the likelihood of health problems during infancy. We strongly recommend that you quit smoking and avoid exposure to second hand smoke.

Learn more about tobacco alcohol and drug use in pregnancy.

Can I drink alcohol?

There is no proven safe amount of alcohol for your baby. When a pregnant woman drinks alcohol, it quickly reaches her fetus. The same amount of alcohol that’s in her blood is in her baby’s blood. There is no known safe level of alcohol for a fetus. Drinking alcohol at any time during pregnancy can cause problems for your unborn baby. The more a pregnant woman drinks, the greater the danger to her baby. Alcohol also increases the risk of miscarriage or a preterm delivery.

I have been exposed to Fifth disease (Parvovirus.) Should I be concerned?

Usually, there is no serious complication for a pregnant woman or her baby because of exposure to a person with fifth disease. About 50% of women are already immune, and these women and their babies are protected from infection and illness. Sometimes, however, the virus can cause a miscarriage in early pregnancy or severe anemia in the fetus if later in pregnancy. There is no evidence that fifth disease causes birth defects or mental retardation.

If you have been in contact with someone who has fifth disease, or if you have an illness that might be caused by parvovirus, please contact us right away so we can determine if blood tests are needed.

Should I have genetic counseling and/or testing?

If your are 35 years of age or over at the time of delivery, or if you have a family history of birth defects, mental retardation, or certain medical conditions, we offer genetic counseling and genetic testing. Your physician can give you more information regarding these tests.

What is Quad Screen or Sequential Screen?

This maternal blood test screens for open neural tube defects, such as spina bifida. It also gives information about the risk of Down’s syndrome and other chromosomal problems. Remember, this is only a screening tool, if the results are positive, further diagnostic testing may be indicated. You can discuss these options with your Women’s Care provider to get the best choice for your pregnancy. The Quad Screen is bloodwork (done on you) at 15-19 weeks. The Sequential Screen combines bloodwork and ultrasound measurements at 11-13 weeks with bloodwork at 15-19 weeks to provide a slightly more thorough analysis. Insurance coverage for these tests varies greatly. It is a good idea to call your insurance company to see what they provide and discuss these tests with your Women’s Care provider.

Learn more about screening for birth defects.

When will I have an ultrasound?

A routine ultrasound between 18-20 weeks is performed to make sure your baby is growing as it should, confirm your estimated due date, screen for fetal abnormalities, evaluate the position of the placenta, determine the amount of amniotic fluid, see if you are carrying more than one baby, and check for openings or shortening of the cervix. Sometimes it is possible to see the sex of the baby and sometimes it is not. If your baby is lying in an inconvenient position, the baby’s sex cannot be determined.

It is important to remember that this is a medical examination, and visitors should be limited. Please call the office to review recommendations for ultrasound attendees.

In many cases, women need only one ultrasound examination, but for a variety of medical reasons, your doctor may order additional scans during your pregnancy.

What about cystic fibrosis screening?

You may discuss cystic fibrosis or other carrier testing screening with your Women’s Care provider. Please let your provider know if you have an Ashkenazi Jewish heritage as there may be risks for other genetic diseases that can be screened. These screening tests can show an increased risk of inheriting these diseases for your baby.

Learn more about prenatal screening of cystic fibrosis.
Learn more about preconception carrier screening.

Are vaccines safe during pregnancy?

The flu vaccine is one that is proven to be safe during pregnancy. We strongly recommend that all women who will be pregnant during flu season (November-March) receive a flu vaccine. Vaccines to avoid are: MMR, chicken pox, and Lyme disease. Talk to your doctor before receiving any other type of vaccinations.

The pertussis (whooping cough) vaccine is also recommended during pregnancy. This decreases the chances that your baby contracts whooping cough in the first few months of life. It is recommended that all people who will care for the baby have a recent pertussis vaccination.

Can I videotape the birth of my baby?

It is the hospital’s policy not to allow video cameras of any sort in the delivery room. Videos may be taken after the birth if allowed by the staff and doctor. Cameras taking still photos may be used unless directed otherwise by the physician.

What do I do in an emergency?

A Women’s Care physician is on call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to assist you with any emergent concerns. During regular office hours, please contact our office so you make speak with your specific doctor or assistant. If you have questions regarding emergencies, you are welcome to call the office and be connected with our after-hours service.

Is it safe to have sex?

Unless otherwise instructed, you may continue to have intercourse until the onset of labor. Do not have intercourse if you have vaginal bleeding, if your bag of water breaks or if you are being treated for premature labor.

What can I do to prevent stretch marks?

Stretch marks may appear on the belly, thighs, and breasts, and no lotions or creams prevent them.

Will I deliver on my due date?

The duration of the average pregnancy is 40 weeks (280 days). The emphasis is on the word “average”. Only about 4% of all women will actually deliver on their “due date”. However, over 90% will deliver within two weeks of that due date. If you should go more than one week past your due date, other tests may be performed. If this situation arises, we will discuss it further at that time.

When should I take maternity leave?

You may continue your employment as long as you wish. Some women feel too tired and uncomfortable by the 38th week to carry on full-time employment. If you think you have an unusual occupation that may adversely affect your pregnancy, bring it to our attention early. Please check with your employer regarding your maternity leave benefits. Many women take advantage of the 12 weeks of unpaid leave allowed by the Family/Medical Leave Act.

Should I take childbirth class?

We encourage you and your spouse or labor support person to enroll in a childbirth class. Information is available in our office about locations and times of classes.

Click here to learn more about and register for newborn, breastfeeding and birth classes.

What are the fees for obstetrical care?

The fee schedule for obstetrical care will be discussed with you early in your pregnancy with Patient Account Representatives in our office. Also remember the hospital and pediatrician has a separate set of fees.

How much weight should I gain?

If you are the appropriate weight for your height and body build, you should gain between 15-40 pounds. Depending on your particular body type, weight recommendations may change. Please discuss these with your Women’s Care provider.

Is it safe to exercise?

We are frequently asked about exercise in pregnancy. For the mother, exercise has excellent physical and emotional benefits. Exercise will help you remain healthy and feeling your best while your body rapidly changes. It can also help prepare you for labor and delivery. Women at high risk for premature labor, growth restriction (decreased blood supply to the placenta), or other high risk conditions should not exercise and will be reminded of this by their provider. Women who were in good shape prior to pregnancy may continue to work out at their previous levels. It is also rare for a fit woman to overheat while exercising. Based on this information, the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology recommends:

  • Continue mild to moderate exercise. Regular exercise (at least three times per week) is preferable to intermittent exercise.
  • Avoid exercise lying directly on your back after 12 weeks.
  • When exercising, make sure you drink lots of water and modify your exercise by how you feel.

Learn more about exercise during pregnancy.

Exercise Generally Considered Safe in Pregnancy includes:

  • Low Impact Aerobics/Pregnancy Fitness Classes
  • Cycling/Stationary Bike
  • Elliptical Machine, Treadmills
  • Jogging, Walking or a Day Hike
  • Swimming/Water Aerobics
  • Weight Training
  • Prenatal Yoga and Pilates

How can my partner be supportive and prepared?

We at Women’s Care welcome the support of partners, family, and friends during this special time. Partners or close support are welcome to attend our classes. Reading support materials is a good idea for them to be more involved.

Learn more about a father’s guide to pregnancy.