While your aunt undoubtedly is thinking only of your best interests, swimming daily is a real gift to you and your unborn baby that poses no danger even as you approach your due date. If your water breaks while you are in the pool--or the bathtub, for that matter--you will feel the fluid leaking and should contact your doctor immediately. My real concern is that you take every precaution to steady yourself getting into and out of the pool or tub.
Yes, you can work with your doctor and a physical therapist to develop an exercise plan. Keep in mind, however, that this is not the time for aerobic workouts or muscle strengthening. The goal of exercise while on bed rest is to minimize the risk of developing blood clots in your extremities.
Two factors contribute to constipation in pregnancy. The first is the body's increased production of progesterone, which relaxes not only the smooth muscle of the uterine wall but also of the intestinal wall and stomach, thereby making digestion sluggish. The second is the body's tendency to become underhydrated as it adjusts to an increasing blood volume. To help prevent constipation, drink at least eight glasses of water a day. Also exercise daily and eat more vegetables and dried fruits.
The weight of your uterus increases throughout pregnancy, so if you were to spend time lying flat on your back, that extra weight might compress the vena cava, the large blood vessel that runs along your spine and carries blood to the heart. Compression of this vein may cause you to become dizzy, lightheaded, nauseated or sweaty, and it may briefly reduce blood flow to your baby.
No. "It takes at least three to six months for your genitals to get back to normal," says Laura Berman, Ph.D., director of the Berman Center in Chicago and co-author of For Women Only (Henry Holt & Co.). A perineal tear or episiotomy can cause a tight feeling in the vagina, which can persist even after the site has healed (usually four to six weeks after a vaginal birth). To help combat the tightness, you or your partner can gently stretch the area using fingers that have been well lubricated with K-Y Ultragel or Astroglide (available at drugstores).
Although you should check with your OB to rule out an allergic reaction or other problem, the itching you describe may be a symptom of intrahepatic cholestasis of pregnancy (ICP). This condition occurs when liver function becomes impaired, resulting in increased levels of bile salts in the bloodstream. As the blood circulates, these salts are deposited in the skin, causing intense itching, particularly at night. ICP typically occurs in the third trimester and will resolve on its own once the baby is delivered.
Rest assured that excessive fetal activity is not associated with any complications that could affect your baby's health. If, on the other hand, you were to perceive a decrease in fetal activity, you should immediately alert your doctor.
Just Give Me a List
Week 1: If you haven't started already, you should be taking a prenatal multivitamin with folic acid daily (bump it up to 600 micrograms folic acid once you know for sure you're pregnant).
Week 2: You should be eating the healthiest diet possible for the next nine months. For some simple guidelines, check out "Tell Me What to Eat"
Q: Is mineral makeup safe?
A: Mineral makeup is a good choice during pregnancy, when skin may react unexpectedly, says Joanna Schlip, a Los Angeles makeup artist. That's because it doesn't contain ingredients that can irritate skin, such as fragrance or preservatives. Mineral makeup also contains titanium and zinc, which act as a natural SPF to protect your skin from the sun's harmful rays.
Q: Now that I'm pregnant, should I switch to organic skin-care products?
Caring for a new baby
"I had major worries about not knowing what to do with a baby. I also worried that I wouldn't be a good mom."
— Maureen Simmons, El Dorado Hills, Calif., mother of Meghan, 12, and Cameron, 7
Though the thought of caring for a newborn 24/7 may be daunting, soon enough, it will become second nature. "So much of parenting is trial and error, but you'll figure it all out," pediatrician Jennifer Shu says. "Strive to be the best parent you can be, but give up on the notion of perfection."
I don't think so. Though most pediatricians have privileges at several hospitals, typically only pediatricians in very rural areas will travel long distances to see a newborn. Most pediatricians count on each other to perform newborn exams and order discharges when necessary. Your OB can help you find a doctor to see your baby in the hospital.