The early weeks of pregnancy are fragile—and confusing. Here, the answers to your questions.
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As long as your feta is made from pasteurized milk, feel free to eat as many Greek salads as you like. The concern is a condition called listeriosis, a bacterial infection that’s typically contracted through eating certain foods, including unpasteurized milk and cheeses, says Kelly Jackson, M.P.H., an epidemiologist with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Q: I’ve felt so tired during my pregnancy that even getting up for work every day is becoming difficult. Are there any safe, natural ways to boost my energy?
It seems counterintuitive, but researchers keep finding reasons to give morning sickness a high-five. The nausea and vomiting of pregnancy correlate with lower risks for miscarriage and, later in life, breast cancer. And in one recent study, the offspring of moms who had morning sickness scored higher on IQ tests. “Morning sickness indicates that proper hormones are being made by mom and baby, that the baby’s growing and developing,” says Laura Riley, M.D., a fetal/maternal medicine specialist at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. “I see it as a good sign.”
Your co-worker’s habit of talking too loud on the phone has always annoyed you; now it makes you want to throttle him. “What’s that all about?” you may wonder. The answer is simple: Hormone levels fluctuate throughout pregnancy, sometimes causing wild mood swings.
It’s very unlikely, says Portland, Ore., OB-GYN Desiree Bley, M.D. To avoid risking miscarriage, we delay nonemergency surgeries until the second trimester. Although preterm labor is a risk then and later, it’s a treatable one. We prefer regional or local anesthesia to
general, but even the latter won’t harm the fetus.
Though it won’t replace healthy eating, a prenatal supplement is essential. Here’s expert advice to help you choose a good one.
Q: How early in my pregnancy should I begin taking a prenatal vitamin?
Yes. Recent studies have shown that even small amounts of green and black tea may interfere with your intestine’s ability to absorb
folic acid. Since this B vitamin helps prevent neural-tube defects, you may want to avoid drinking tea while pregnant.
“Nosebleeds are a frequent occurrence among expectant women but are typically not something to worry about,” says San Diego OBGYN Suzanne Merrill-Nach, M.D. “We usually chalk them up to simply being an annoyance of pregnancy.
Pregnancy itself doesn’t put you at risk for urinary tract infections (UTIs), but your history does. According to the National Kidney and Urologic Diseases Information Clearinghouse, close to 20 percent of women who have one infection will suffer another. Of those, 30 percent will experience at least one more. “Women with predispositions to UTIs are the ones who tend to have them during pregnancy,” says Angelica Zaid, M.D., an OB-GYN at Women’s Integrative Health Center in Encinitas, Calif.
Since essential oils (the oils that give plants their distinctive smells) are the key ingredients in aromatherapy treatments and products, experts recommend not using them in the first trimester. Essential oils could cause uterine contractions or adversely affect your baby in his early developmental stages, explains Jill Edwards, N.D., an Oregon doctor of naturopathic medicine who specializes in prenatal care.
No. Botox hasn’t been tested for use during pregnancy, so we don’t know if it can harm a baby in utero, according to George Macones, M.D., chairman of obstetrics and gynecology at Washington University in St. Louis, Mo. Botox is a class C drug, which means it should only be used during pregnancy if its benefits outweigh the potential for risk. A form of the toxin created by the Clostridium botulinum bacterium, Botox works by blocking the chemicals that otherwise signal a muscle to contract.
Our inability to see ourselves as sexy during pregnancy may be due to the combination of mood swings, nausea and the omnipresent photos of too-thin celebrities. However, being sexy isn’t about your body; it is a state of mind. What did you do before to feel sexy? Go dancing? Get a massage? You can still do those things. In terms of dressing your changing body, maternity clothes are far more sophisticated and flattering these days. As for your husband, we often make assumptions about what our partners are feeling. But unless you have a conversation, you may never know.