House Call Doctor answers the most common pregnancy questions.
Pregnancy is such a special time; bringing a life into this world can be exciting and the most wonderful thing you have ever experienced. However, for some women, especially first-time moms, there may be a ton of questions just swarming your brains.
What to eat and not eat? What to take for the common cold? Is it safe to have sex? Today and next week, I’m going to answer the top 10 questions from my pregnant patients.
Question #1: What Vitamins Should I Take and When?
As soon as you find out you are pregnant, start taking one prenatal vitamin daily which contains between 400 to 800 mcg of folic acid. If you are trying to get pregnant, start that prenatal vitamin preferably at least one month prior to becoming pregnant. This will help prevent problems with neural tube defects, such as spina bifida. For those women who have had a child with prior neural tube defects, you will need to take a total of 4000 mcg of folic acid daily.
Your doctor will test you for anemia during your pregnancy. And like many pregnant women, if you do become anemic, you will be asked to take an iron tablet daily. Taking it with a little bit of Vitamin C (like orange juice) will help iron absorption.
If you don’t eat enough dairy, a calcium supplement is also recommended. Both pregnant and non-pregnant women require at least 1000mg of calcium daily.
Question #2: What Can I Do About Morning Sickness Without Taking Prescription Medications?
Most pregnant women get some nausea and/or vomiting during the first trimester of pregnancy. This occurs when HCG hormone, the same hormone that is detected in pregnancy tests, levels increase. If you don’t get nausea or vomiting, consider yourself lucky! It’s important to keep fluids and nutrients down, and if your vomiting is severe or frequent, you need to be seen by a doctor immediately. For those with mild symptoms, place some crackers on your nightstand and take a couple as soon as you wake up before getting out of bed. Carry crackers with you throughout the day, as well. Taking Vitamin B6 at a dose of 25mg three times a day with over-the-counter Unisom has been shown to minimize mild nausea/vomiting symptoms in pregnancy. Some patients report relief with ginger ale and wrist pressure bands. Don’t forget hydration – drink lots of fluids!
Question #3: Which Over-the-Counter Medications Can I Take?
If you are truly miserable, here are some treatments that are often advised by physicians and considered safe in pregnancy:
The common cold - chlorphenirmine, loratidine
Pain - acetaminophen (NO ibuprofen, aspirin, naproxen, or any other OTC pain meds)
Diarrhea - Immodium
Antacids - Maalox, famotidine
If you are ever unsure if a medication is safe to take during pregnancy, please ask your doctor or pharmacist.
Question #4: How Much Should I Eat Every Day?
Most pregnant women require about 300 extra calories a day. If you are underweight, you may need more. About 70 grams of protein with at least 3 servings of dairy are also required daily. Avoid undercooked meats and soft cheeses, like brie, feta, blue, and gorgonzola. Hard cheeses that are pasteurized are Ok. Most women gain somewhere between 25 to 35 pounds during the entire pregnancy, gaining about one pound a month for the first three month, and one pound a week for the last six months. Some women even end up losing weight during the first three months.
Question #5: Is it Ok to Eat Fish?
Eating fish during pregnancy is controversial due to the mercury levels of seafood, which may be harmful to the fetus. Cooking does not change the mercury’s harmfulness. Avoid fish with higher levels of mercury, such as mackerel, tile, swordfish, tuna, shark, crab, and lobster. Also avoid sushi. Otherwise, one serving a week of other cooked fish is considered acceptable during pregnancy.
Now that you’ve heard my answers to 5 of the 10 most common questions during pregnancy, you can use them as a reminder to meet with your obstetrician and discuss what is specifically right for you. Each person is different, and each pregnancy is different. My answers may not apply to everyone. Therefore, it’s really important to open up the dialogue with your own doctor and find out what is safest for you and your baby.
Please note that all content here is strictly for informational purposes only. This content does not substitute any medical advice, and does not replace any medical judgment or reasoning by your own personal health provider. Please always seek a licensed physician in your area regarding all health related questions and issues.