The early weeks of pregnancy are fragile—and confusing. Here, the answers to your questions.
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I was e-chatting with Sarah, a colleague of mine who works for CARE. I’m preparing to go the National CARE Convention in Washington DC next week, where I’ll be moderating a panel discussion on global maternal health issues. We had a laundry list of details to discuss. All we really wanted to talk about though was “doulas.”
The following is a summary of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists’ guidelines for exercising while pregnant:
1. In the absence of contraindications (see below), pregnant women are encouraged to engage in 30 minutes or more of moderate exercise a day on most, if not all, days of the week. (See “Don’t Exercise If ...” below.) As always, check with your doctor before beginning an exercise program.
Julie wrote with a special concern. She went to her 20-week ultrasound and got some worrisome news: her umbilical cord only has two vessels. Her placenta is very close to her cervix and her doctor said it had a "lip." Since Julie's writing me for information, it makes me wonder just how much her doctor explained when he dropped a worry-bomb on her.
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:
It goes with the territory: When you’re pregnant, you can’t help but worry about the health of your baby. Fortunately, there are a host of prenatal tests that can help ease your fears and make even a healthy pregnancy less stressful. Following is a rundown of the tests you’re most likely to undergo; see the chart at right for detailed information.
Wouldn’t it be great if someone you trust volunteered to be on hand — even sleep on your couch — in case you went into labor in the middle of the night? What if that same person offered to walk in the woods with you in the last weeks of your pregnancy or adjusted her vacation plans to be with you during your baby’s birth?
My doula (pronounced doo-lah), Sue Ann Higgens, did all this and more when I was expecting my first child.
now, more than ever, taking care of yourself is top priority. With your baby developing inside you, you know you should get the most out of what you’re eating. You also know that you need extra calories for your baby’s development. But there may be something you haven’t thought about: Avoiding foods that make you sick or that harm your growing baby is also an important part of the equation.
We were on our way to the auto-repair shop. My husband led the procession, his car freshly smashed from a minor spin-out. I was following closely behind in our second car. We stopped at a red light. When the light turned green, my husband hesitated for a moment. Because I was living in a separate universe I call “Planet Pregnant,” I didn’t. The front end of my car fused slowly into the rear end of his.
Although no one was hurt and the damage was slight, we ended up putting two cars in the shop that afternoon instead of just one.
Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) is a blood clot that forms in the venous system. The clot may stay in one area, such as the legs, causing pain and swelling; or it may migrate to another part of the body and become life threatening. Most serious of these scenarios is a pulmonary embolism, a blood clot that lodges in the lung. Since you have a history of DVT, you are at slightly greater risk of developing it during your pregnancy.
If you're not having any complications, you can and should exercise every day for about 30 minutes, according to the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology. You can exercise at a similar intensity to your prepregnancy level as long as you stay well-hydrated and avoid overheating. A good rule of thumb is to not increase intensity or duration beyond what you are used to doing so you don't overexert yourself. Stop immediately if you feel lightheaded or have contractions or bleeding. Using the "talk test" is an easy way to monitor your intensity while exercising.
"Yoga works on many levels--physical, energetic and spiritual--to bring about a profound transformation that is unmistakable and potent," says Patty Slote, a yoga instructor at The Movement Center in Portland, Ore., who specializes in prenatal yoga. The poses focus on pregnancy-related concerns: toning the pelvic-floor muscles, opening the hips and pelvis, increasing breathing capacity, improving postural alignment and encouraging relaxation.
While doing abdominal exercises now won't give you abs of steel, they will strengthen your core (and back) and make you aware of all the muscles you will use during the pushing phase of labor. Strengthening your core muscles also can help relieve pregnancy-related back pain.
After your first trimester, lying supine (on your back) can cause your enlarged uterus and baby to compress your vena cava, the major vessel that returns blood to your heart. This reduces the amount of blood your heart has to pump back out, which can lower your blood pressure and reduce blood flow to the placenta, Shashoua explains. It also can cause you to feel dizzy, lightheaded or nauseated.