What can I expect at my first prenatal visit to my doctor or midwife?
Expect to discuss your medical history with your health care provider during the first visit, which will help him or her determine the possibility of any complications during pregnancy. You will be weighed and your blood presure will be taken. Your doctor or midwife will do a pelvic exam and a Pap test. You may also be asked to take a urine test.
During one of your early prenatal visits, you will have a complete profile done. You will be tested for hepatitis, German measles, and syphilis, and a complete blood count will be done to assess your overall health. In addition, African-American women are tested for sickle cell anemia.
How often will I need an ultrasound? Are there any other tests that I may need?
An ultrasound is done at 18 weeks (approximately four months into the pregnancy). No other tests are usually needed, unless there are symptoms or questions that need to be addressed.
How much weight can I expect to gain?
A healthy woman of normal weight should gain about 25 to 35 pounds during the course of her pregnancy. If you are underweight, you should gain more, but the general recommendation is no more than 40 pounds total. Women who are overweight should gain somewhere between 15 and 25 pounds.
What happens if I get sick while I’m pregnant? Can I take any over-the-counter or prescription medicines?
Some over-the-counter medications can be taken while you are pregnant, but always talk to your doctor or midwife first before taking anything. Acetaminophen, allergy medications, and cold/sore throat medications are generally safe to take during pregnancy, but many health care providers will advise you to avoid pain relievers such as ibuprofen and aspirin. If you take prescription medications, talk to your doctor, midwife or pharmacist before taking anything while you are pregnant.
How will my sleep patterns be affected while I’m pregnant?
Like any other major life event or change, pregnancy can affect your sleep patterns. Early in the pregnancy, you shouldn’t notice a change. But later, as the fetus grows and the uterus enlarges, you may feel an uncomfortable pressure on your back. You may also find it difficult, if not impossible, to sleep on your stomach. Other factors, such as the normal aches and pains of pregnancy and the combination of the enlarged uterus pressing on the bladder and increased blood flow to the kidneys, which cause more frequent urination, may interfere with sleep.
What physical and emotional changes can I expect?
Each stage of pregnancy will bring about physical and emotional changes.
Some of the most common physical changes include backache, hemorrhoids, frequent urination, spider veins, tiredness, constipation, nausea or vomiting, and skin blotches or discoloration. Most of these changes are temporary and should go away after you have given birth. Emotional changes are very individual. Hormonal changes may cause “mood swings” that range from joy to sadness. These are all normal emotional changes that happen during pregnancy.
Can I exercise while I’m pregnant, and if so, what are the general recommendations?
You should definitely incorporate some exercise into your daily routine while pregnant. However, talk to your doctor or midwife first to make sure the specific exercise will not injure you or your baby. Walking and swimming are good options, and some fitness clubs even have classes that cater to pregnant women. (Crozer-Keystone offers its own Moms in Motion program) If you experience any discomfort while exercising, stop and rest. Talk to your doctor or midwife if it happens again.
Is it safe to travel while I’m pregnant?
Generally, traveling is fine. If you must travel in the last month of your pregnancy, be mentally prepared with the idea that you can go into labor. Ask your doctor or midwife for a copy of your chart and bring it with you. If you do not have a copy of your chart and you go into labor, go to the nearest health care facility and ask the staff to contact your provider’s office and have them fax your chart to the facility.
If you must travel to a foreign country, be careful about what you drink and eat. Food and water in some areas of the world are not safe, and there also may be a risk for infectious diseases, depending upon where you are traveling. Research the area before you leave for your trip, and find out about vaccine and health recommendations.
Can I have loved ones in the delivery room with me?
We know that the birth of your baby is a family event. If you choose, you may have support people to help you through the labor or present for the baby’s birth. Just outside the Labor/Delivery/Recovery Suite, other loved ones may wait in a comfortable, convenient atmosphere. Postpartum Unit visiting hours are flexible.
What are the visiting hours for parents?
We welcome parents at most times of the day or night. Parents whose infants are in DCMH’s NICU or Crozer’s ICN can visit their babies 24 hours a day. There may be short periods of time when parents will be asked to step out of the hospital’s NICU/ICN so that staff can provide the necessary care for your infant.