The early weeks of pregnancy are fragile—and confusing. Here, the answers to your questions.
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When I hear the heartbeat, does that mean my baby is OK?
“It means the baby’s alive; it doesn’t tell you anything more than that,” says Poliakin. Most of the time the baby is fine, but to be certain, you need to undergo other tests. At the minimum, all pregnant women, regardless of age, should have an ultrasound to measure fetal development and help detect abnormalities.
What supplements should I take?
All pregnant women should take prenatal vitamins, preferably in prescription form, Poliakin says. Getting 1,000 milligrams of calcium and 600 micrograms of folate per day is especially important. If you don’t get enough of these nutrients from food sources (this is especially likely with folate), you will need a supplement.
What are these cramps that I feel?
You may experience round-ligament syndrome, or pains that extend down to the groin and result from the stretching of ligaments as the uterus grows. Braxton Hicks contractions begin late in pregnancy; they are mild cramps that last from two seconds to two minutes and can occur up to 100 times a day. They’re caused by the expansion of the uterus and are harmless. But if you have stronger contractions that last at least 45 seconds and occur fewer than 10 minutes apart, call your doctor.
Do I need to change my diet or try to gain weight?
Instead of focusing on weight gain, aim to eat a variety of foods that contain adequate protein, iron, calcium, vitamins and minerals. (See our nutrition quiz on page 54 for more information.) Typical weight gain in the first trimester can range from zero to 10 pounds, but don’t be overly concerned if you gain a bit more. Pregnant women require 100 additional calories per day in the first trimester and 300 extra calories daily in trimesters two and three.