Here’s what you need to know to have a healthy nine months.
Many thanks to the following experts, who shared their knowledge and wisdom.
Audra Timmins, MD, OB/GYN at Baylor Clinic in Houston;
Susan Shi, MD, and Carla Ortique MD, physicians at an OB/GYN practice affiliated with Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston.
Elisa K. Ross, MD, clinical associate professor at the Institute of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Women’s Health at the Cleveland Clinic in Cleveland.
Mavis N. Schorn, PhD, CNM, associate professor at the Vanderbilt University School of Nursing in Nashville, Tennessee.
Dorothy Anoina, MD, OB/GYN at Advocate South Suburban Hospital in Hazel Crest, Illinois.
Can I exercise during pregnancy? Which activities are safe and which aren’t?
Timmins, Shi and Ortique: Exercise during pregnancy can offer great benefits to both you and your baby; however, the level and intensity of your workouts should be monitored carefully. It’s recommended that your heart rate not exceed 140 beats per minute during exercise, as a faster beat may decrease blood flow to your baby. Everything from running to abdominal workouts can be safe and beneficial by reducing stress levels, boosting energy levels, and strengthening your heart and other muscles (which can help ease—and perhaps even shorten—labor and delivery).
Is it safe to have sex while expecting—even in the third trimester?
Timmins, Shi and Ortique: If you are having a normal pregnancy—in other words, if you are low-risk for complications—it’s safe to have sex throughout your pregnancy until your water breaks or you go into labor, even in the third trimester. However, you need to be mindful of your body’s cues. If you have any pain, bleeding or other complications associated with your sexual activity, you should speak to your healthcare provider immediately.
How much swelling is common, and when is it cause for concern?
Ross: Fluid retention is a normal hazard of pregnancy and, most of the time, is just an annoying symptom. We worry, however, that swelling could signify something more if it affects one leg more than the other, is accompanied by calf pain or redness, or if it affects the hands and face. A visit to your practitioner can determine the severity.
I had a couple glasses of wine before I found out I was pregnant. Will my baby be OK?
Ross: Lots and lots of people are in your position. Although we’re not sure about what is a completely safe amount of alcohol consumption in pregnancy, we do know that fetal alcohol syndrome is found in women who consistently drink throughout their nine months. Stopping now should put you in the worry-free zone.
My former “innie” belly button is now an “outie.” Is that normal?
Ross: The whole architecture of your tummy has to change to allow the baby to grow, so the thinnest point, your navel, makes the most noticeable transformation. Don’t worry though, it will go back to its normal position after delivery.
I’ve had breast augmentation surgery. Will I still be able to nurse my baby?
Schorn: Current breast augmentation doesn’t commonly involve the nipple; the implant is often placed under the chest wall muscle, which decreases damage to breast glandular tissue and nerves and affects milk production less. However, if there was an incision around your nipples, the milk ducts were cut, or there was very little glandular tissue before your surgery, you may have more difficulty and should plan ahead by employing a lactation consultant, nursing early and often after birth, and closely watching for signs of insufficient milk.
What about breast reduction surgery?
Ross: If the surgeon was able to keep some of the milk ducts attached to the nipple, then yes, you can still nurse.
Be prepared for some uncomfortable moments while your breasts and baby find a connection. Keep in mind, too, that the segments of breast not hooked up to the nipple will still enlarge and make milk but, once they discover there’s no outlet, will stop producing and become comfortable again.
I feel like I’m riding an emotional roller coaster. Am I a crazy lunatic, or is there some scientific justification behind my behavior?
Anoina: You’re not crazy—you’re pregnant! Women can experience a wide range of emotions during pregnancy.Even when everything is going well, a mom-to-be can have mood swings because she is concerned about the changes in her body or her ability to be a good mother. A couple may also have worries about their baby’s health. Talk to your partner about these changes and create an environment of trust and understanding. It’s best that both of you take a step back and realize that this is a temporary situation and you won’t always feel like this.
With a baby in my belly, can I still take baths and occasional dips in the hot tub?
Timmins, Shi and Ortique: Hot tubs can cause hyperthermia, which is an abnormally high body temperature. It is recommended that a pregnant woman never let her core body temperature rise above 102.2