All information provided in these FAQ’s is presented for educational purposes only. We believe that the information published is accurate but is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Please take the help of a qualified doctor if you have any health concerns.
However, once a woman reaches the age of 35, it is harder for her to conceive, and if she is trying to have her first child after 35, chances of it being born with Down’s Syndrome are greater. All this really means is that the mother will have to take more care during her pregnancy, and if she is careful, she can give birth to a happy, healthy baby at any age. Older pregnant women have a higher risk of pregnancy induced hypertension (preeclampsia) and diabetes (gestational diabetes). Also, the chances of a woman giving birth to twins, peak between the ages of 35 to 39!
Remember, if he uses the steam bath now, his sperm count will affected adversely for around three months after that. It takes sperm 10 to 11 weeks to be produced, so bear that in mind. Also, tell your husband to switch to cool and loose boxers instead of wearing tight underwear. He should also avoid wearing biker shorts for at least two months prior to when you plan to conceive.
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.
Is it okay to just take a regular multivitamin instead of a prenatal vitamin if you can’t afford it or don’t tolerate it?
It is probably fine. It may be a little lower in folic acid and iron. But if you are eating healthy, your needs will be met. Use the food tracker to get an idea of your iron and folic acid intake daily, then add on the amount in your supplement. You want to be consistently reaching the goal of
27 milligrams of iron 600 micrograms of folic acid
Limited research suggests that many women with perinatal depression improve when treated with anti-depressant medicine. Your doctor can help you learn more about these options and decide which approach is best for you and your baby.
Speak to your doctor or midwife if you are having symptoms of depression while you are pregnant or after you deliver your baby. Your doctor or midwife can refer you to a mental health professional who specializes in treating depression.
Here are some other helpful tips:
- Try to get as much rest as you can. Try to nap when the baby naps.
- Stop putting pressure on yourself to do everything. Do as much as you can and leave the rest!
- Ask for help with household chores and nighttime feedings. Ask your husband or partner to bring the baby to you so you can
breastfeed. If you can, have a friend, family member, or professional support person help you in the home for part of the day.
- Talk to your husband, partner, family, and friends about how you are feeling.
- Do not spend a lot of time alone. Get dressed and leave the house. Run an errand or take a short walk.
- Spend time alone with your husband or partner.
- Talk with other mothers, so you can learn from their experiences.
- Don’t make any major life changes during pregnancy. Major changes can cause unneeded stress. Sometimes big changes cannot be avoided. When that happens, try to arrange support and help in your new situation ahead of time.
There are two common types of treatment for depression.
Talk therapy This involves talking to a therapist, psychologist, or social worker to learn to change how depression makes you think, feel, and act.
Medicine Your doctor can give you an antidepressant medicine to help you. These medicines can help relieve the symptoms of depression.
Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should talk with their doctors about the advantages and risks of taking antidepressant medicines. Some women are concerned that taking these medicines may harm the baby. A mother’s depression can affect her baby’s development, so getting treatment is important for both mother and baby. The risks of taking medicine have to be weighed against the risks of depression. It is a decision that women need to discuss carefully with their doctors. Women who decide to take antidepressant medicines should talk to their doctors about which antidepressant medicines are safer to take while pregnant or breastfeeding.
Depression not only hurts the mother, but also affects her family. Some researchers have found that depression during pregnancy can raise the risk of delivering an underweight baby or a premature infant. Some women with depression have difficulty caring for themselves during pregnancy. They may have trouble eating and won’t gain enough weight during the pregnancy; have trouble sleeping; may miss prenatal visits; may not follow medical instructions; have a poor diet; or may use harmful substances, like tobacco, alcohol, or illegal drugs.
Postpartum depression can affect a mother’s ability to parent. She may lack energy, have trouble concentrating, be irritable, and not be able to meet her child’s needs for love and affection. As a result, she may feel guilty and lose confidence in herself as a mother, which can worsen the depression. Researchers believe that postpartum depression can affect the infant by causing delays in language development, problems with emotional bonding to others, behavioral problems, lower activity levels, sleep problems, and distress. It helps if the father or another caregiver can assist in meeting the needs of the baby and other children in the family while mom is depressed.
All children deserve the chance to have a healthy mom. All moms deserve the chance to enjoy their life and their children. Don’t suffer alone. If you are experiencing symptoms of depression during pregnancy or after having a baby, please tell a loved one and call you doctor or midwife right away.
Pregnancy and Pica Non-Food Cravings Pica is the practice of craving substances with little or no nutritional value. Most pica cravings involve non-food substances such as dirt or chalk. The word pica is Latin for magpie, which is a bird notorious for eating almost anything.
It is true that the majority of women will experience cravings during pregnancy; however, most of these cravings are for things like pickles and ice cream. Pica cravings are most commonly seen in children and occur in approximately 25-30% of all children; pica cravings in pregnant women are even less common.
Some speculate that pica cravings are the body’s attempt to obtain vitamins or minerals that are missing through normal food consumption. Sometimes pica cravings may be related to an underlying physical or mental illness.
Don’t panic; it happens and is not abnormal. The most important thing is to inform your doctor to make sure you have a complete understanding of the specific risks associated with your cravings. Here are some suggestions to help you deal with pica cravings:
Inform your doctor and review your prenatal health records
Monitor your iron status along with other vitamin and mineral intake
Consider potential substitutes for the cravings such as chewing sugarless gum
Inform a friend of your craving who can help you
What are the first changes that happen to a woman when she becomes pregnant, even before she realises she's pregnant?
Other early changes occur in the skin. There are some ever-so-slight pigment changes in the face or all over the body. Some women can get increased oil production and acne as well in early pregnancy.
Morning sickness occurs not just in the morning but actually all through the day. It usually ends at about 14 to 16 weeks. One thing that triggers morning sickness is an empty stomach. One way to battle that would be to actually keep food in the belly every two to three hours. There have also been reports showing that vitamin B-6 and calcium can help as well. You can alleviate the symptoms by consuming small, frequent meals, low fat/non oily foods and drinking plenty of fluids.
During pregnancy, the uterus grows from about the size of my fist and even smaller in some people, to the size of a large orange or grapefruit, then to the size of a cantaloupe, and then, of course, to the size of a small watermelon at the end.
Around nine to 12 weeks the uterus actually goes from being a pelvic organ to being an abdominal organ. We can feel it in the abdominal exam after about 12 weeks or a little bit earlier.
What happens to the abdominal organs later on in pregnancy as the uterus grows higher and higher into the abdomen?
It is said that pregnancy puts added stress on your heart. What cardiovascular changes occur during pregnancy and how is the heart able to deal with them?
The lungs also go through many changes. The diaphragm actually rises. The diameter of your chest increases outwardly. Despite those adjustments, though, you often feel out of breath and you may feel that you can’t take a deep breath or that you feel a little bit more out of breath. The hormones again have a big role to play in that and cause those changes and the compensating mechanisms as well.
I've read that the lungs actually work more efficiently in pregnancy. How is it that they're able to work more efficiently for that brief period in a woman's life?
In early pregnancy, nutrition has a big impact on fetal development. Amazingly, the body compensates and takes the fats, carbohydrates and proteins from whatever you give it, but if you have a healthier, balanced diet there are fewer problems in development. There’s an increased need of folic acid this has been in the media for quite a while. Studies have shown that folic acid actually decreases spinal problems and genetic problems.Since nutrition is so critical, especially during the early stages of pregnancy, women need to actually start on prenatal vitamins even before conception, and to continue that all the way through pregnancy. But it’s very vital in the very early stages of pregnancy, during the first four to eight weeks of early fetal development.
We've heard a lot about the dangers of smoking and drinking to the growing fetus. What are the dangers of those to the mother's body during pregnancy?
Smoking can affect the mother’s cardiovascular system as well, including how efficiently the heart is pumping. It can also affect skin changes and general well- being or mood. Smoke affects the weight of the fetus as well, causing a lot of low- birth-weight babies. Even though some women may think, “OK, I don’t want to gain a lot of weight during pregnancy” and keep smoking, it actually affects the fetus, not just the mother’s weight.
Alcohol has been well studied. Even small amounts and regular doses can cause fetal alcohol syndrome, which is a horrible outcome for the baby. These are two drugs that are so dangerous to moms and babies.
Adequate protein may also play a role in preventing pregnancy induced hypertension (PIH) or preeclampsia.
- At least four servings of fruits and vegetables. This is important for making sure you consume enough vitamins and minerals through food, in addition to any prenatal vitamins your doctor has suggested during your pregnancy.
- At least four servings of whole-grain or enriched bread and cereal to ensure you have enough energy during your pregnancy.
- At least four or more serving of milk and dairy products (not including butter, ghee or margarine) for the calcium you need during pregnancy.
- You’ll also need to consume at least three servings of meat, fish, chicken, eggs, nuts, dried beans, legumes or peas to ensure an adequate level of protein in your diet.
- A well-balanced diet during pregnant helps ensure that both you and your baby are healthy.
- The only necessary recommended daily allowance or RDA that is difficult to achieve through diet is iron. In most cases, your physician will prescribe an iron supplement during pregnancy. Also, be sure to follow any additional diet or vitamin supplementations recommendations that your personal physician recommends during your pregnancy.
Some of the most noticeable skin changes during pregnancy involve pigmentation. The “mask of pregnancy” is one that is often written about. It’s a darkening of the skin usually around the sides of the face and the forehead.
There can also be a change of the line down the abdomen. It’s usually called a linea alba, which is a white line. During pregnancy it can become a dark line, called the linea nigra. This change sometimes occurs as early as the beginning of the second trimester, and increases and then disappears probably three to four months after delivery.
Some other common changes include little spider veins that pop up in the legs and sometimes on the arms and the abdomen. The reasons why these happen are not quite clear. We know that in many women, these spider veins disappear after delivery.
The pigment changes are probably due to the increase in the melanocyte- stimulating hormone during early pregnancy, as early as the first month, which then usually drops off after delivery. We don’t know what levels are associated with women who get a lot of pigmentation.
Another common skin change during pregnancy is definitely acne. You’ll notice outbreaks mostly on the face, but sometimes the shoulders and the backs of the arms. Again, there aren’t any specific hormones that cause these, but increases in both estrogen and progesterone are known to cause acne throughout life.
If you notice that one hour goes by and you have six contractions, and then the next hour goes by and you have 10 contractions, and you’re noticing that there is actually a pattern every 10 minutes or every five minutes that’s when we have you call the doctor just to let them know what’s going on.Some other things that you can look for are mucus changes. You might notice bloody mucus or the mucus plug, which is a large amount of mucus that actually passes out some time between two weeks and a few days before actual labor starts. Sometimes the water breaks before contractions begin, either as a small trickle of fluid or a large gush. Usually when that happens, women are aware and they call us right away.
Sometimes a little bit of bleeding can occur after normal activity or sex. Usually this is not dangerous, but it’s very alarming to a newly pregnant woman. Another change that can happen due to hormonal changes is that the cervical opening can become a
What happens in many cases is that the pelvic bones are just not large enough to allow the passage of a certain size baby. If that’s the case, the cervix may open to a certain number, say, to 4 to 5 centimeters, and just stop and stay at that number for two hours.
Usually a first-time mom who is experiencing good, strong labor contractions with no progress for several hours would be a candidate for a C-section. Another case would be if the cervix dilated to 10 centimeters and the mom was pushing for a certain amount of time without the baby appearing, we’d assume that the baby’s just not going to be able to come out through the pelvic outlet. We allow a shorter amount of time for somebody without an epidural.
But there are two big reasons that C-sections happen. One big one would be where the fetal heartbeat would drop suddenly and stay down rather than recovering after a contraction. That would be an emergency and we would have to get the baby out.
The other situation would be if the fetal heart tracing just does not look normal regardless of the resuscitation that we’re doing oxygen and position change or putting some fluid back up inside the uterus. If things are just not looking healthy or safe for the baby or the mother, that would necessitate a C-section.
Few other factors include: Failure to progress with good labour pains; cervix does not dilate; disproportionate size of the pelvis and the baby; big baby and foetal distress.
- missed period
- breast tenderness
- nausea, vomiting or morning sickness
During pregnancy, these factors may increase a woman’s chance of depression:
- History of depression or substance abuse
- Family history of mental illness
- Little support from family and friends
- Anxiety about the fetus
- Problems with previous pregnancy or birth
- Marital or financial problem
- Young age (of mother)
Depression after pregnancy is called postpartum depression or peripartum depression. After pregnancy, hormonal changes in a woman’s body may trigger symptoms of depression. During pregnancy, the amount of two female hormones, estrogen and progesterone, in a woman’s body increases greatly. In the first 24 hours after childbirth, the amount of these hormones rapidly drops back down to their normal non-pregnant levels. Researchers think the fast change in hormone levels may lead to depression, just as smaller changes in hormones can affect a woman’s moods before she gets her menstrual period.
Occasionally, levels of thyroid hormones may also drop after giving birth. The thyroid is a small gland in the neck that helps to regulate your metabolism (how your body uses and stores energy from food). Low thyroid levels can cause symptoms of depression including depressed mood, decreased interest in things, irritability, fatigue, difficulty concentrating, sleep problems, and weight gain. A simple blood test can tell if this condition is causing a woman’s depression. If so, thyroid medicine can be prescribed by a doctor.
Other factors that may contribute to postpartum depression include:
- Feeling tired after delivery, broken sleep patterns, and not enough rest often keeps a new mother from regaining her full strength for weeks.
- Feeling overwhelmed with a new, or another, baby to take care of and doubting your ability to be a good mother.
- Feeling stress from changes in work and home routines. Sometimes, women think they have to be “super mom” or perfect, which is not realistic and can add stress.
- Having feelings of loss loss of identity of who you are, or were, before having the baby, loss of control, loss of your pre-pregnancy figure, and feeling less attractive.
- Having less free time and less control over time. Having to stay home indoors for longer periods of time and having less time to spend with the your partner and loved ones.
Any of these symptoms during and after pregnancy that last longer than two weeks are signs of depression:
- Feeling restless or irritable
- Feeling sad, hopeless, and overwhelmed
- Crying a lot
- Having no energy or motivation
- Eating too little or too much
- Sleeping too little or too much
- Trouble focusing, remembering, or making decisions
- Feeling worthless and guilty
- Loss of interest or pleasure in activities
- Withdrawal from friends and family
- Having headaches, chest pains, heart palpitations (the heart beating fast and feeling like it is skipping beats), or hyperventilation (fast and shallow breathing)
- After pregnancy, signs of depression may also include being afraid of hurting the baby or oneself and not having any interest in the baby.