You could have iron-deficiency anemia. This condition affects up to one-third of all pregnant women and is usually harmless, according to Joanna Stone, M.D., associate professor of obstetrics, gynecology and reproductive medicine at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York. Anemia is caused by an abnormally low concentration of red blood cells. These cells help carry hemoglobin, which in turn transports oxygen throughout the body; this explains why people who are anemic tend to feel fatigued and light-headed.
When you’re expecting, the “Big O” can be so intense you might find it unnerving. Orgasm, and sometimes also intercourse, should be avoided if you have any risk factors for preterm labor or certain other pregnancy complications. And you shouldn’t have sex if your water has broken. Otherwise, going at it poses no dangers to you or your baby, says Stacey Rees, a certified nurse-midwife at Clementine Midwifery in Brooklyn, N.Y.
Puffy eyes are the result of water retention caused by increased hormone levels during pregnancy, says dermatologist Diane Berson, M.D., of New York Presbyterian Hospital. If your shoes and rings are getting tighter, you’ll most likely experience water retention in the eye area, too. To help prevent swelling, avoid salty foods and carbonated drinks and sleep with an extra pillow under your head. If you wake up with puffy peepers, your best bet is to reach for something cold.
Even though you need to party smart while you’re expecting, you can still mingle, nibble and raise your glass to the holidays. To help, we’ve gathered some glamorous and tasty “mocktail” recipes from one of the country’s best mixologists; they’re so spirited, you’ll forget they’re made without spirits. Some even include good-for-you pregnancy nutrients such as calcium, fiber and folate.
Almost certainly. “To my knowledge, there have been no human studies on the safety of using tooth-whitening products in pregnancy,” says Christina Chambers, Ph.D., MPH, an associate professor in the departments of pediatrics and family and preventive medicine at the University of California, San Diego. “However, we don’t have any reason to think they would pose a risk to the developing fetus.”
For many active women, pregnancy is a time to slow down--but only a bit. Alison Ferguson, 41, was super-active before and during her pregnancy with daughter Quinn, who's now almost 2. Ferguson took advantage of her oceanside life in Ventura, Calif., by surfing and playing sand volleyball until the end of her first trimester, as well as taking long beach walks and doing weight training and prenatal yoga. "But knowing there was a baby inside me kept me from doing stupid things, like going out when the waves were too big," Ferguson says.
Walking was the only exercise Corina DuBois of Monterey, Calif., did before getting pregnant. "I've always been intimidated by sports and by the machines at gyms, so I shied away from working out during my first pregnancy," says DuBois, 30, mother of Holden, 2, and Nolan, 6 months. But three months after her first delivery, she discovered Stroller Strides, a mommy-and-child stroller-based walking and toning program. "With Stroller Strides, I found I could be fit without having to be coordinated or competitive," she says.
It's a good week to answer questions. I'll try to tackle a few. Amber wrote wondering when she should expect to start looking pregnant and when to go to the doctor. The doctor part is easy to answer. Call for an appointment as soon as you take a home-pregnancy test. They may have you come in right away if you have any medical conditions they're concerned about or, they may schedule for what they guess will be your 6-8th week of pregnancy. According to the March of Dimes, this is what you can expect for your prenatal schedule of appointments:
Now that you’re expecting, your immediate environment is more important than ever. Here’s how to steer clear of potentially harmful substances and make your space a healthier place. From the moment you find out you’re pregnant, your desire to keep yourself and your child as healthy as possible kicks into high gear. That means eating a balanced diet, exercising sensibly and making your surroundings safe. The most difficult part: protecting yourself and your unborn child from toxins present in the air we breathe, the food we eat, the water we drink and the household products we use.
It's late. You're starved. You see the closest pair of Golden Arches and make a beeline. When you’re pregnant and working, it’s tempting to zoom through a drive-through and pick up something fast, but such a meal probably wouldn’t offer the good nutrition you need.
By her second trimester, Elizabeth Lampert, then 34, was used to the seemingly endless prenatal tests. So when her obstetrician drew blood for a routine procedure called a maternal serum screening (also known as a double marker, triple marker or alphafetoprotein [AFP] test), Lampert didn’t think twice. Until she got the results, that is: The test indicated that her baby might have Down syndrome or another defect. “I was just destroyed,” she recalls.
Heat, humidity, the summer doldrums — not the best invitation to exercise, especially if you’re pregnant. But there’s a remedy: Get thee to a pool! Being in the water just plain feels good when you’re pregnant, and there are physiological reasons why. Water greatly reduces the usual stress on your musculoskeletal system and supports the weight of the fetus, thus taking a load off your lower back. Water also makes it easier for the heart to pump blood, reduces pregnancy-related swelling (edema) and takes pressure off your bladder.
When Kara Reibel learned she was expecting her first child, she promised herself that exercise would play a vital role in the following months. The one-time aerobics instructor from Indianapolis was determined to not use pregnancy as an excuse to let herself get out of shape. “Exercise has been a big part of my life since I was a teen-ager, and it never crossed my mind to stop,” says the 28-year-old Reibel.