Congratulations! You’ve successfully achieved a pregnancy. Here are our tips for ensuring your baby has the best possible chance to develop and grow in a healthy environment—and for managing some of the changes you may experience:
Iron: Pregnant women are prone to anemia, so it is important to eat plenty of iron-rich foods (green leafy vegetables, meats). Iron is necessary for red blood cell development, and you will be making many new red blood cells during pregnancy.
Vitamin C, commonly found in citrus products such as oranges, helps with the absorption of iron. Taking an iron supplement with orange juice or squeezing lemon on a salad is a good way to boost your absorption.
Fiber: You should increase the fiber or “roughage” in your diet (whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables), and try to drink at least eight 8oz glasses of fluids per day. Prenatal
vitamins, the weight of the growing uterus and the increased hormone production of pregnancy can slow your digestion and lead to constipation.
Caffeine: Limit your caffeine consumption (coffee, tea, sodas) and high-calorie fluid intake (sodas.) One to two caffeinated drinks per day are safe.
Limit Exposure to Potential Pathogen Sources:
Don’t Restrict Calories: Although this is not the time to diet, eat wisely, and avoid empty calories. If you are overweight, ask your physician about a referral to meet with a dietitian to develop a healthy eating plan.
If these suggestions do not improve your symptoms, call your doctor to discuss the use of prescription medications that help minimize nausea and vomiting.
Staying healthy during pregnancy is important. However, if you did not exercise regularly prior to pregnancy, now is not the time to start an intense new program. Below are some helpful hints for exercising. It is recommended that you not resume exercise until a pregnancy ultrasound reveals a fetus with a heartbeat. If you have any questions, consult with your physician.
At the start of your pregnancy, you will notice that you become short of breath faster than you are used to. This is a normal change in pregnancy. Try to exercise so that you don't tire out too quickly. A good rule of thumb is to make sure that you are able to carry on a conversation while exercising. If you become too short of breath to talk normally, you're probably overdoing it.
Many forms of exercise are safe during pregnancy. Things to avoid include lying flat on your back after the first trimester. Any sport that risks falls or injury to your abdomen should be avoided.
If you are traveling in a car, train or airplane for an extended period of time, you should get up and stretch your legs at least every 2 hours. This will decrease the risk of blood clots, which are more common during pregnancy.
The following is an introduction to some of the more common prenatal tests that may be offered to you by your obstetrician. You should discuss the pros and cons of these tests with your obstetrician at your first prenatal visit.
The BUN exam includes blood tests and an ultrasound exam. It is performed between 11 and 14 weeks of pregnancy to detect the risk of Down syndrome and some other chromosome abnormalities, such as Trisomy 18.
An ultrasound exam, called a nuchal translucency screening, is used to measure the skin thickness at the back of the neck of the fetus. This helps determine the risk of a chromosomal abnormality.
The results of the nuchal translucency screening are then combined with those of the blood tests and the mother's age to assess the risk for the fetus. In the first trimester this combined test detects Down syndrome in about 85% of cases. When the nuchal translucency thickness is increased, the fetus may have a heart defect or a genetic condition. In this case, your doctor may suggest further testing such as a level II ultrasound, amniocentesis, or chorionic villus sampling.
This test may be somewhat less accurate if you are pregnant with multiples.
If you are pregnant with the assistance of a donor egg, you should let your physician know the age of the egg donor for the BUN test result to be accurate.
This test poses no risk to the fetus.
In the second trimester, a test called a "multiple marker screening" is offered to screen for Down syndrome, trisomy-18, and neural tube defects. This test measures the level of three or four substances in your blood. It is usually performed between 15 and 20 weeks of pregnancy. The stage of pregnancy at the time of the test is important, because levels of the substances measured change during pregnancy. These tests can pick up 70-80% of fetuses affected by Down syndrome, and 80% of fetuses with neural tube defects.
These tests are used to actually diagnose a pregnancy with an abnormality, whereas screening tests can only provide a percentage chance that an abnormality exists.
Diagnostic tests include:
Both amniocentesis and CVS carry a small risk of miscarriage. This risk will be discussed with by your physician prior to performing either of these tests.
For more information regarding early pregnancy, please see: