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"Is it safe to exercise during my pregnancy?"

Exercising during your pregnancy will help you feel good, and may make your labor and delivery easier. While gaining 25 to 30 pounds is healthy for most pregnant women, becoming seriously overweight can cause health issues for mothers and babies. To stay fit through pregnancy, here are a few things to keep in mind:

Most exercises are safe during pregnancy, as long as you exercise with caution and stop when you feel tired. The safest and most productive activities are those that carry little risk of injury, benefit your entire body, and can be continued until birth. These include swimming, brisk walking, indoor stationary cycling and elliptical machines, and low-impact aerobics.

Your developing baby and the other demands of pregnancy require more oxygen and energy. You may find that you become out of breath or easily fatigued.

Hormones produced during pregnancy cause the ligaments that support your joints to stretch, increasing the risk of injury.

Your center of gravity shifts during pregnancy, and the added weight of your uterus and baby puts stress on your joints and muscles in the lower back and pelvic area. It is easier to lose your balance, so you may wish to avoid exercises that require it. Tennis, squash, and other court sports requiring rapid movements may become risky as your pregnancy proceeds. Also avoid exercises in which you must twist at the waist while standing or, after your third month of pregnancy, that require lying on your back or right side for more than a few minutes.

Please note that if you have a medical problem, such as asthma, heart disease, or diabetes or if your pregnancy is the result of in vitro fertilization, your doctor may want you to limit your exercise program or monitor it closely. Your doctor may also wish to limit or monitor the exercise you do if you have an obstetric condition such as: bleeding or spotting, low placenta, threatened or recurrent miscarriage, previous premature births or history of early labor, and weak cervix

No hot tubs please! Whatever your chosen exercise, take care not to raise your core body temperature beyond the level at which your body can cool itself through sweat and fluids, as doing so will raise your baby's temperature and might be harmful. Ending your exercise routine with a spell in the sauna, hot tub, or steam room, therefore, is not safe during pregnancy.

Source: TPR Media

"Is it safe to eat fish while you're pregnant?"

While it is a great source of many of the nutrients you and your developing baby need, you may be avoiding it because of the Food and Drug Administration's recommendations to limit how much fish you eat because of high levels of a type of mercury found in some fish. The FDA has asked women and their young children to limit their weekly portion to 12 ounces of fish (about two servings, far more than most Americans actually eat each week), and to avoid shark, swordfish, king mackerel, tilefish (sometimes called golden or white snapper), orange roughy, marlin, grouper, Spanish mackerel (from the Gulf of Mexico), and tuna steaks. Canned light tuna (12 ounces per week) is safe to consume, while canned white tuna (albacore) is higher in mercury and should be avoided or limited to 6 ounces per week. Raw fish and shellfish can have high bacteria counts and viruses, and should be avoided during pregnancy. Reports do suggest fish that are low in mercury, such as smaller fish and farm-raised fish like salmon, pollock, and shrimp, are good for women and their babies, and can be eaten twice a week or more.

Fish remains an excellent source of protein, essential vitamins, and omega-3 fatty acids, all needed for healthy fetal development. In one study of 9,000 women, those who ate fish or seafood once a week during the first 16 weeks of pregnancy were less likely to give birth to low-birth-weight or premature babies than women who never ate fish or seafood. If you have given birth to a low-birth-weight or premature baby in the past, you may wish to discuss with your doctor the benefits of taking a daily fish oil supplement. While the reasons for its protection against premature birth are not fully understood, fish oil contains important omega-3 fatty acids, including the nutrient DHA, which has been shown to be essential for optimal brain and vision development in fetuses and infants.

Source: TPR Media

"Can I travel while pregnant?"

You can travel safely by car, boat, plane, or train through much of your pregnancy. After 36 weeks of pregnancy, airlines request that you not fly, and your doctor may ask you to stay within driving distance of the hospital. Before week 36, a few simple precautions will keep you safe on your journeys.

Always wear a seatbelt when driving or riding in a car. Pregnant women in a recent study who used a three-point restraint, with or without airbag deployment, reduced the risk of injury to the baby by 84%. Place the lap belt as low as possible across your abdomen, against your upper thighs, and the upper belt across your shoulder and between your breasts. Adjust both parts of the belt to fit snugly.

Traveling by air is safe until week 36. Metal detectors at the airport security checkpoints do not harm fetuses. When you fly, ask for an aisle seat so that you can stand up and walk around whenever possible and reach the bathroom easily. Avoid flying in small planes with unpressurized cabins at altitudes higher than 7,000 to 9,000 feet.

Discuss any long-distance traveling with your doctor as you near the end of your pregnancy. If you must travel in your second or third trimester, be sure that you will be able to stand up and walk around at least every two hours to reduce swelling in your feet and legs.

Carry light snacks with you to avoid nausea, and drink extra fluids (especially when flying). Do not take any over-the-counter motion-sickness or anti-nausea medications before flying or boating.

Schedule a prenatal appointment before you leave and take a copy of your medical records with you. If you plan to be away for more than a couple of weeks, ask your doctor for the name of a doctor in the area you are visiting, in case of emergency.

If you are traveling out of the country, talk to your doctor first. Depending on where you are going, you may need immunizations you can't have during pregnancy. Some places may expose you to contaminated water or food that can cause diarrhea and other illnesses of concern to pregnant women.

Source: TPR Media

"Is it okay to have sex while I'm pregnant?"

Making love when you are pregnant is limited only by your energy and desire. Many women find that their second trimester brings greater pleasure in sex. Unless your doctor says otherwise, it is safe to have sex, as long as you are comfortable, right up until your baby is born.

Source: TPR Media

"My baby has the hiccups! Is this normal?"

Have you felt a light, repetitive thump thump thump in your belly yet? Soon you may feel the odd sensation of your baby having hiccups. When babies swallow a little amniotic fluid, they sometimes get hiccups as a reflex. Some babies hiccup a lot during the second and third trimesters, often daily, while others do so only once in a while. Both are normal, and a charming reminder that yes, there really is a baby in there.

Source: TPR Media

"What is an MMS test?"

The MMS, or multiple marker screen, is a blood test that measures the levels of several different biochemicals in the mother's blood or serum. The test is often called the quadruple screen. They usually include four biochemicals: maternal serum alpha-fetoprotein, human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG), a hormone produced in the placenta; inhibin A, another hormone; and unconjugated estriol-an estrogen produced by both the fetus and the placenta. Among these individual biochemicals, a test for maternal serum alpha-fetoprotein (MSAFP), can sometimes be done separately or alone to screen for neural tube defects. To get the most accurate results of the triple screen, the test should be done between 15 and 20 weeks after the first day of your last menstrual period. The quadruple screen, or MMS, is performed to assess whether your fetus is at a greater risk for having chromosomal defect such as Down syndrome or a greater risk of having a a neural tube defect. Abnormal levels of AFP, both high and low, may indicate some sort of birth defect. A level that is high may indicate a neural tube defect (such as spina bifida), and a low level could indicate Down syndrome. The blood test is like any other maternal blood test and poses no harm to the mother or the fetus. The real risk is that a false-positive result may require further testing — such as amniocentesis — and a more invasive procedure.

Source: A.D.A.M.

"What is gestational diabetes?"

Gestational diabetes is the onset of diabetes during pregnancy in a woman who didn't have the condition before. With this type of diabetes, your body resists the effects of insulin, a hormone that controls the level of sugar (glucose) in your blood. Gestational diabetes is thought to result from metabolic changes brought about by one of the hormones produced by the placenta (the human placental lactogen).

What are the symptoms? Sometimes there are none, but you may experience excessive hunger and thirst, frequent urination, or recurrent vaginal yeast infections. Then again, you may have some or all of these signs and not have gestational diabetes.

How is it diagnosed? Between 24 and 28 weeks of pregnancy, you'll take a glucose loading test to screen for the condition. This entails slugging down a sweetened solution and getting your blood drawn an hour later. If you're among the 15 percent of pregnant women whose tests reveal abnormal blood glucose levels, you'll need a follow-up exam, called an oral three-hour glucose tolerance test. For this one, you'll fast overnight and then drink an even sweeter solution. Your blood will then be drawn at fasting and three times over a three-hour period to measure your glucose levels.

Who's at risk? Almost 50 percent of the women that get gestational diabetes have no risk factors, but the other 50% are more susceptible due to preexisting factors. Women who get pregnant after age 30 are at a higher risk than younger women. If diabetes runs in your family, you have an increased risk of getting it during pregnancy. Overweight women, those with a history of a previous pregnancy with the delivery of a large infant, and those who've had a baby with a birth defect or a stillborn delivery all have an increased risk for getting gestational diabetes.

Source: A.D.A.M.

"Who will care for me?"

Throughout your pregnancy, delivery, and the months after your baby is born, you will be cared for by one or more experts in helping mothers and babies stay healthy and get off to a good start.

  • Obstetrician-gynecologists (OB-GYNs) are doctors who specialize in the general medical care of women-including their needs during pregnancy, delivery, and the postpartum period-and have been certified by the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology. Doctors in family practice may also provide care for their pregnant patients.
  • Certified nurse-midwives (CNMs) are registered nurses who have received special training in caring for women through pregnancy and delivery, have a graduate degree in midwifery, and have passed a certification test given by the American College of Nurse-Midwives. The profession today is a highly modern and skilled one.
  • Nurse-practitioners (NPs) are registered nurses with advanced academic and clinical experience. NPs provide routine care-blood pressure checks, measurements, and more-during your prenatal visits.
  • Childbirth educators are trained to provide families with information and emotional support. Certified childbirth educators hold classes in hospitals or other settings to help you prepare for birth and parenthood.
  • Labor and delivery nurses are there for you once you are in labor and arrive at the hospital. They will monitor you and your baby's progress, provide comfort and support, and assist throughout your delivery. After your baby is born, postpartum or neonatal nurses, sometimes called mother-baby nurses, will take care of you and your baby, answer your questions, and help you feel comfortable caring for yourself and your baby once you leave the hospital.

Lactation consultants (LCs) are experts in lactation and helping mothers learn to breastfeed. They can be nurses, midwives, childbirth educators, obstetricians, pediatricians, or La Leche League leaders-anyone who has passed a rigorous certification exam offered by the International Lactation Consultant Association. An LC can help make the learning days of nursing as smooth as possible.

Source: TPR Media

"What should I consider when choosing child care?"

There are three main types of infant care: a sitter or relative in your home, home-based day care (with a small group in someone else's home), and center-based care. Research suggests that each of these options can be fine for your baby, provided they are high quality. Look for caregivers who are calm and attentive, and observe if the children in their care seem settled or stressed in the environment. In addition:

  • All child care settings should be licensed. Child care centers that are National Association for the Education of Young Children certified are preferred.
  • Research confirms that caregivers with education in child development or learning make a difference in your child's outcome. Also, it is important that the person who cares for your child shares your values and childrearing attitudes.
  • Your child care setting should be open to you at all times. You should feel free to drop in whenever you want.

A good child care program lays the foundation for later success in school. However, it's important to know that the right program for one child may not be right for another-even for two children in the same family. Begin the search by thinking about what kind of setting best suits your child and your family's needs.

When choosing a program, find out the size of the program, its location, the number of days and hours offered, the availability of extended hours, how different ages are grouped, class size, and cost. After deciding which type of program best meets your needs, visit more than one site so you can compare.

If looking at a child care center, the following detailed checklist may be helpful:

The program

  • Does the program have a clear, written statement of its goals and philosophy?
  • Does it consider a child's social, emotional, and physical needs?
  • Is the atmosphere warm, nurturing, and accepting?
  • Is there at least one caregiver for every three babies or six toddlers?
  • Does the school offer a balance of individual, small-group, and large-group activities?
  • Is there a balance between quiet periods and active times?
  • Is there a routine to most days?
  • Does the program have an up-to-date state license?

The teachers

  • What are teachers' qualifications?
  • What is the ratio of children to teachers?
  • Is there frequent staff turnover?
  • Do teachers encourage and respond to children's natural interests?
  • Are they cheerful and patient?
  • How do the adults interact with the children and with each other?

The setting

  • Does it look safe indoors and outdoors?
  • Can you imagine your child in this setting?
  • Are the children happy, relaxed, and engaged in meaningful play?
  • Does the setting foster productive interactions between children?
  • Is there a wide variety of materials? Are they orderly and easily accessible?
  • Do equipment and toys encourage individual and group play and improve gross and fine motor skills?

Parental involvement

  • Is parental involvement welcomed and encouraged? How?
  • Will the school's administration provide references to parents whose children have attended the program or are attending?

Source: TPR Media

"How do you know when labor has begun?"

Early labor-short, mild contractions 20 or more minutes apart-can last quite a while in a first pregnancy. Check with us at the hospital if you feel you are in early labor, and we can help you decide when to come in.

If labor begins at night, try to rest while your contractions progress. If labor begins in the day, find a quiet activity to distract yourself-take a walk, visit with a friend, read, or listen to music. Sleep if you can. Urinate often to be as comfortable as possible, and because a full bladder can slow the descent of your baby's head. A long, warm shower may feel wonderful and speed dilation. Labor will slow down your digestion, so eat light, easy-to-digest foods: broths, decaffeinated tea, and toast. Use your relaxation breathing as needed. Don't be surprised if you experience some nausea and vomiting during labor.

Source: TPR Media