FAQ's During Pregnancy

Here's a list of commonly asked pregnancy questions:

Q. When should I begin taking prenatal vitamins?
One of the most important things you can do to help prevent serious birth defects in your baby is to get enough folic acid every day — especially before conception and during early pregnancy. Folic acid, sometimes called folate, is a B vitamin (B9) found mostly in leafy green vegetables like kale and spinach, orange juice, and enriched grains. Repeated studies have shown that women who get 800 micrograms (0.8 milligrams) daily, prior to conception and during early pregnancy reduce the risk that their baby will be born with a serious neural tube defect (a birth defect involving incomplete development of the brain and spinal cord) by up to 70%. The most common neural tube defects are spina bifida (an incomplete closure of the spinal cord and spinal column), anencephaly (severe underdevelopment of the brain), and encephalocele (when brain tissue protrudes out to the skin from an abnormal opening in the skull).

All of these defects occur during the first 28 days of pregnancy — usually before a woman even knows she's pregnant! That's why it's so important for all women of childbearing age to get enough folic acid — not just those who are planning to become pregnant. Only 50% of pregnancies are planned, so any woman who could become pregnant should make sure she's getting enough folic acid.


Q. Can I dye my hair or perm it while I'm pregnant?
It is perfectly safe to dye your hair and get perms while pregnant. There's no proof that it harms the baby. Just make sure you are in a well ventilated room.


Q. Can I eat fish?
Certain types of fish that carry more mercury (swordfish, shark, king mackerel and tile fish) should be avoided. Store-bought fish sticks and fast-food fish sandwiches are low in mercury, as well as shrimp, light tuna, Pollock, and catfish. These are safe to eat up to 12 oz. per week.


Q. Are deli meats safe to eat?
Yes, they are. Even though most online references say you should boil them or microwave them to kill bacteria, our doctors and women's health specialists say there is no harm in eating deli meats. Of course, you need to check your sources... make sure that you are buying meat from stores that are clean and that keep meats properly cooled in deli cases and/or packaged properly.


Q. Is it ok to continue my exercise routine?
It is safe to continue the same workouts you're used to, as long as your doctor approves it. Do not go above and beyond what your body can handle. Eating well and exercising should always be a general part of your overall health and it's also a great way to stay fit during your pregnancy. Horseback riding, downhill skiing, mountain biking, etc. are exercises to avoid. With these sports, there are always risk factors you may not be able to control. As always, talk to your doctor before starting any exercise program.


Q. Is it normal to be exhausted during pregnancy?
This is totally normal, especially during the first trimester. Your body is going through so many changes and pregnancy puts a strain on your entire body. Hormonal changes, such as a dramatic rise in progesterone, can also be contributing to your feeling of being tired. If you're nauseated or vomiting and/or having trouble sleeping at night, those can also contribute to fatigue. Most women regain energy by the second trimester and then the fatigue can set in again around 7 months. To ease this, eat a healthy diet, get moderate exercise, and take time to relax.


Q. Is there anything I can do to avoid stretch marks?
Unfortunately, there isn't much you can do to avoid getting them. Not gaining more weight than the recommended amount (usually 25-35 pounds) can help. There isn't any proof that lotions or oils can prevent stretch marks, but they do help keep your belly moisturized and may ease itching as your belly grows. Stretch marks do become less noticeable after about 6 months after childbirth (postpartum) and the pigmentation fades to a more natural skin tone, rather than the purplish/red color they appear at first.


Q. How can I sleep more comfortably?
Always make sure you're not sleeping on your back. When you lie on your back, your uterus may put pressure on your vena cava – a large blood vessel that runs up your back returning blood to your heart. This may make you feel dizzy and faint, and may reduce the flow of blood to your baby. Lying on your side with your knees bent is likely to be the most comfortable position as your pregnancy progresses. Try placing a pillow between your legs for added support.


Q. When will I feel the baby move?
If this is your first pregnancy, you'll most likely feel your baby move around 16-22 weeks, even though he/she has been moving around since about 7 or 8 weeks. Mothers who have been pregnant before may notice the movement sooner since she's familiar with the feeling. Some women have compared the feeling to a bubble popping in their stomach or butterflies fluttering. As pregnancy progresses, the kicks and movement will get stronger and more regular.