The early weeks of pregnancy are fragile—and confusing. Here, the answers to your questions.
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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.
Hand, foot and mouth disease (HFMD) is a viral infection that’s most common among young children. It typically causes a fever, painful sores in the mouth, and a red, blisterlike rash on the palms and soles but is usually not serious.
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.
Yes. At 16 weeks gestation, your body starts to produce colostrum; this is the earliest form of breast milk, and it’s brimming with anti-infective properties to protect your baby right from birth. Some women do leak small amounts during pregnancy, but that’s no problem. “There’s not a finite amount of colostrum,” Wight explains. “Your body will continue to produce it after your baby is born.”
“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.
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.
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.
Limit your list. Use constraint so gift givers aren’t burdened with exhaustive printouts, and be sure to list both expensive and inexpensive items. Find out what you really need, too: “Study baby-product books and get honest feedback from experienced parents first,” advises Kate Ward, editor of TheBump.com.
Read the fine print. Determine each store’s privacy and gift-return policies. Web purchases may have to be returned by mail.
You wouldn’t dream of running a marathon without training first. Such an intense athletic event requires mental, physical and emotional preparation. The same is true for childbirth: Knowing what can happen during labor and delivery—and your options for pain relief—can alleviate your fears and boost your confidence. “Knowledge is power,” says Sheri Bayles, R.N., a certified Lamaze instructor who taught childbirth classes at New York-Presbyterian Hospital in New York City for more than 20 years.
1. Enroll your dog in an obedience class so he’ll be on his best behavior when the baby comes home.
2. Avoid major renovations if you’re living in an older home with layers of paint or varnish that could release harmful lead dust. (This is true throughout your pregnancy.)
3. Nix hot tubs and saunas; high temperatures can affect your baby’s development during the early months.
4. Get a dental checkup (gum disease is linked to premature delivery), but skip the X-rays.
They call it “momnesia”: those times you put the milk in the cupboard instead of the refrigerator; or you walk into a room, only to forget why you’re there. But “mommy brain” is more than a punch line, says Shoshana Bennett, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist in San Ramon, Calif., who specializes in prenatal and postpartum counseling. Experts say it’s a very real neurological issue resulting from powerful endocrine and brain chemistry changes. Fortunately, Bennett says, you can take steps to minimize the impact of mommy brain:
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.”