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.
"Strength training is not only safe, it is actually very important during pregnancy," Shashoua says. "Women who stay fit and strong during pregnancy are able to get through the 1 to 3 hours of pushing that is sometimes required to deliver a baby better than those who aren't as strong," he explains. "It also helps women feel better about themselves." Regardless of her strength-training experience, a pregnant woman may initiate or continue a program, Shashoua adds.
"There's a big link between dehydration and uterine contractions," Shashoua says. "The hormone released during dehydration is very similar to one that causes contractions." He says experiencing contractions is the most common reason pregnant women stop exercising, so drink well before, during and after your workouts.
Pregnant women are at higher risk of suffering from pneumonia and other complications of the flu, so you are specifically encouraged to get the influenza vaccine (so are the elderly, health-care workers and people with compromised immune systems). Getting immunized also may help protect your baby: The antibodies generated by the vaccine cross the placenta, so it's likely that the baby will have some degree of protection following birth. Ask your doctor about thimerosal-free vaccines.
Yes, you can safely enjoy being outdoors, watching your child's first venture on the slopes. In fact, because most pregnant women's bodies run a bit hotter than before pregnancy, you may even be more comfortable than usual. Just be sure to drink plenty of water to head off dehydration and altitude sickness. And be extra careful while walking in the snow; your shifting center of balance makes it easier to take a tumble. You're also more susceptible to sunburn during pregnancy, so use plenty of sunscreen and avoid prolonged exposure to the sun. This goes for your child, too.
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.
Rh disease is a possibility only when a mothers blood is Rh-negative, the father is Rh-positive and their baby is Rh-positive. Under those circumstances, if a pregnant woman's circulating blood is exposed to fetal blood cells such as during a medical procedure, an abdominal trauma or, most likely, during delivery her immune system may respond by producing antibodies to destroy the Rh-positive cells. Without treatment, this could put a developing baby at risk for serious anemia and other complications.
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends that all pregnant women be offered a diagnostic, or level-3, ultrasound, and I heartily agree. This is the gold standard not only for confirming the age of your fetus, but also for evaluating its health--whether or not you want to know its gender. The optimum timing for a diagnostic ultrasound is 20 weeks, at which time the size and anatomy of the fetus can be well-visualized.
From the description of the precautions you took--wearing gloves and painting in a well-ventilated room--your baby is likely to be just fine. Although no studies specifically confirm this, experts believe that a pregnant woman's limited exposure to household or hobbyist paint (particularly acrylic paint--which, along with tempera or watercolor, is recommended over oil-based paint) shouldn't be a problem. My greater concern relative to paint is twofold:
Many women experience changes in their sex drive during pregnancy--increased and decreased libidos are both common. That said, take a look at any circumstances, past or present, that may be putting a damper on your desire. For instance, have you experienced any vaginal bleeding or been at risk for preterm labor? Did intercourse during your last pregnancy initiate contractions? Or how about the fact that this time around, you are the mother of a young child and are likely exhausted?
Experiencing a food craving during pregnancy often indicates that a woman is deficient in an essential nutrient. The classic "pickles and ice cream" craving is likely the result of a need for additional calcium, and perhaps a secondary need to satisfy the salty and sour taste buds. The nutrient most women lack is iron, and your craving for spinach--an iron-rich vegetable--certainly fits the bill. The cream in creamed spinach also may be soothing to a queasy stomach. As long as your craving is not an unhealthy one, pretty much any food is OK in moderation.
Pilates is a wonderful activity that you can continue throughout pregnancy with some modification. It offers gentle muscle strengthening while improving balance, which can be a real benefit as your body's shape and size evolves.
One of the most common reasons for decreased interest in sex on the part of either a pregnant woman or father-to-be is fear that intercourse will hurt the baby. I'm always happy to reassure my patients that with rare exceptions, a couple can enjoy sex throughout pregnancy. Natural lubrication should not be a problem, and orgasms are perfectly safe.
Hormones can affect your sex drive, too. Pregnancy triggers constant high levels of estrogen and progesterone, both of which suppress the production of testosterone, a vital hormone where libido is concerned.