Connie L. Agnew, M.D., answers your questions about pregnancy.
I'm pregnant with my first child and having terrible morning sickness. I've heard nausea is worse when you're carrying a boy. Is this true?
For centuries, expectant parents have been trying to determine the gender of their babies in utero by scrutinizing everything from morning sickness to how the mother is "carrying" to fetal heart rate. While looking for clues to this mystery may be part of the fun and excitement of pregnancy, none of these factors has been shown to accurately predict gender.
However, one thing that can be said about pregnancy-induced nausea is that the severity of a woman's symptoms tends to be fairly consistent from one pregnancy to the next. This tells us that each woman's physical response to her body's increased hormone production—not the baby's gender—helps determine if, and how severely, she will experience morning sickness.
In the meantime, remember that nausea is the most common complaint of early pregnancy, and it usually subsides without treatment within the first trimester.
I seem to be experiencing an increased amount of vaginal discharge as I go through my pregnancy. Is this normal?
All mucous membranes, including those in the vagina, produce more fluid in response to the increased estrogen of pregnancy. As long as the discharge is whitish and creamy in texture, you're probably fine. However, if the discharge has an unpleasant odor or is pinkish, or if you are experiencing vaginal itching or burning during urination, your doctor will need to make sure you don't have a vaginal infection. Also call your doctor if there is a sudden increase in discharge, regardless of its color or texture. Increased mucus production, particularly in the second and third trimesters, can be a symptom of a dilating cervix, which can lead to preterm labor.
I'm newly pregnant and concerned because I have inverted nipples. Will I be able to breastfeed my baby?
Many women with inverted or flat nipples are able to nurse with great success. In fact, this may not even be a concern for you when it comes time to breastfeed, as changes that occur in your breasts' contour during pregnancy may positively affect the shape of your nipples. Also, remember that your baby will be latching on to the areola (the dark skin circling the nipple) and not just the nipple itself, so inverted nipples may not be as much of a worry as you think.
If you still have concerns closer to your due date, consult a lactation consultant or La Leche League International. There are several ways to help draw out the nipple, including using breast shells and breast pumps. For more information, visit www.ilca.org or www.lalecheleague.org.