Ten Pregnancy Questions You Wanted To Ask

Pregnancy Questions

1. How accurate is an ultrasound in determining the sex of the baby?

Ultrasounds are not 100% accurate at telling if you are having a boy or a girl. They are probably more like 90 to 95% accurate in telling the sex of the baby. There are a lot of things that can affect how accurate the ultrasound is and include things like how cooperative the baby is in showing their genitalia, the position of the baby, how far along your pregnancy is, and how experienced the person doing the ultrasound is. The best time to have your ultrasound is between 18 and 20 weeks gestation because at this time, the baby’s genitals are developed enough that you should be able to easily tell the difference between a boy and a girl.

Read more about this here.

2. Since I got pregnant, I have been tired all the time and want to know if there is anything I can do to boost my energy?

It is very common to feel tired during pregnancy, especially during the first 13 weeks of pregnancy and again towards the end of the pregnancy. There really isn’t anything that you can do to change this, so the best thing to do is to get extra rest whenever you can. If you have the luxury of adjusting your schedule so you aren’t as busy, this really helps as well. Eating a well-balanced, healthy diet can help ease the fatigue a bit and getting out for regular, moderate exercise, like a 30 minute walk, despite your exhaustion, can really help improve your energy level. Most women notice an increase in their energy level during the second trimester that typically continues into the first half of the third trimester.

3. How much weight should I gain in pregnancy?

The amount of healthy weight gain during pregnancy depends on your pre-pregnancy weight. You first need to calculate your BMI.

Based on your pre-pregnancy BMI, the following weight gain is recommended:

BMI                                                                   Weight Gain

< 18.5 (Underweight)                                     28 to 40 lb.

18.5 – 24.9 (Healthy weight)                        25 to 35 lb.

25 – 29.9 (Overweight)                                  15 – 25 lb.

> 30 (Obese)                                                    11 – 20 lb.

If you are pregnant with twins then you should gain 37 to 54 pounds if you had a normal BMI before pregnancy, 31 to 50 pounds if you were overweight, and 25 to 42 pounds if you were obese.

It is generally best if you can keep your weight gain within these target ranges. If you gain too much weight you are more likely to have complications of pregnancy, such as gestational diabetes or high blood pressure of pregnancy. You will also tend to feel more tired and have more body aches like back pain or hip pain. If you don’t gain enough weight you may be at higher risk for the baby not growing big enough or preterm labor. You may also have a harder time breastfeeding because the weight you gain during pregnancy helps you make milk for the baby.

Read more about this here.

4. Can my partner hurt the baby when we have sex?

Hurting the baby during intercourse is a common fear among couples. As long as you are having a normal, healthy pregnancy, intercourse is completely safe for both you and the baby. However, if you are having pregnancy complications like preterm labor, placenta previa, or are on bed rest for any reason you should ask your health care provider if sex is safe for you.

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5. Is vaginal discharge normal in pregnancy?

Many women will notice an increase in their vaginal discharge during pregnancy. It is very common to get a heavier, clear or milky white discharge that is caused by the increase in pregnancy hormones. However, discharge that is itchy, smells fishy or foul, or is yellow to green should be checked out by your health care provider because it may be a sign of an infection. Also, if you think it looks more like water and it seems to be heavier than your normal pregnancy discharge you should verify with your health care provider that your water hasn’t broken.

Read more about this here.

6. How much more should I eat while I am pregnant?

Sadly, the notion that you are eating for two, and can therefore eat whatever you want, is not accurate. You really don’t need to eat that much more when you are pregnant.  During the first trimester, you actually don’t need to eat any extra calories at all. However, many women find eating helps with the nausea of pregnancy and end up consuming more calories during this part of pregnancy than they did before they were pregnant. Sometimes you just have to do what is necessary to make it through this part of pregnancy. When possible, make sure to pick healthy options and avoid empty calories whenever you can.

The second and third trimesters require an additional 300 calories per day. To put 300 calories into perspective a plain bagel has 245 calories, a plain bagel with 1 tablespoon of cream cheese has 320 calories, and 5.3 ounces of mixed berry Greek yogurt has 150 calories. Pregnant women are not eating for two.

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7. What foods should I eat and which ones should I avoid during pregnancy?

During pregnancy, you want to eat a well-balanced diet. Eat plenty of whole grains, green-leafy vegetables, protein, and dairy.

There are a few food considerations that should be considered when you are pregnant, which are discussed below.

– Fish with high mercury content should be avoided because mercury has been linked to several birth defects. However, you don’t want to completely exclude fish from your diet because the omega-3 fatty acids they contain have been linked to healthy brain development before and after birth. It is recommended to eat 8 – 12 ounces of low mercury fish per week.

Click here to get more information about which fish are low in mercury.

– Some studies have linked high caffeine intake to increased miscarriage risk. It is recommended to limit caffeine intake to less than 200 mg per day from all sources including coffee, soda, chocolate, and tea.

– Pregnant women are at higher risk for Listeria infections, which may lead to serious complications for the developing baby. To limit the chances of getting Listeria avoid the following foods:

  • Unpasteurized milk and any food with unpasteurized milk including soft cheeses like feta, queso blanco, queso fresco, Camembert, brie, or blue-veined cheeses
  • Hot dogs, luncheon meats, and cold cuts unless they are heated to steaming
  • Refrigerated pate and meat spreads
  • Refrigerated smoked seafood
  • All raw and undercooked seafood (i.e. sushi, sashimi), eggs, and meat

8. Is it okay to exercise during pregnancy?

If you are healthy and having a normal pregnancy then exercise is safe during pregnancy and highly recommended. It has a number of health benefits and can help you feel better throughout your pregnancy. It helps prevent back pain, makes you feel happier, improves sleep, prevents excess weight gain, and helps ease delivery. If you are not sure if you are healthy enough to exercise while pregnant just ask your health care provider.

If you were exercising before pregnancy you can generally continue with the same exercise routine. You need to limit any sports than increase your chance of falling or being hit (i.e. mountain biking, down-hill skiing, ice hockey, soccer). Good choices during pregnancy include swimming, yoga, walking, low-impact aerobics, or cycling on a stationary bike. Strength training is even ok to do while you are pregnant as long as you don’t lift heavy weights, usually anything more than 20 pounds during pregnancy.

Ideally, you should aim for at least 30 minutes of exercise per day. If you were not exercising before you got pregnant, then you will need to build up to this. While you are exercising, it is important to stay well hydrated and to listen to your body. If you begin to feel too out of breath, dizzy, or light-headed you need to stop exercising. If you don’t feel better after you rest for a few minutes then you should call your health care provider.

Read more about this here.

9. How can I treat common pain during pregnancy?

Round ligament pain

This topic has been covered in a previous blog post which can be found here. Round ligament pain is very common, especially during the second trimester. It occurs when the round ligament, a ligament that connects the uterus to the groin area, is stretched by the growing uterus. It usually feels like a sharp or stabbing pain in the lower abdomen or groin area that tends to last for only a few minutes. However, some women will experience more of a dull pain, especially if it occurs after a long day. When the pain happens, you should stop doing whatever it is you are doing or change positions to alleviate it. Tylenol can be taken but since the pain doesn’t tend to last very long, it really isn’t likely to help much. Some people may notice they get the pain every time they do a certain movement. If this happens, then either avoid the movement or perform it slower to help prevent the pain from occurring.

Read more about this here.

Vaginal pain

Sharp or stabbing pain in the vagina, not accompanied by contractions or bleeding, is especially common during the third trimester. The pain is caused by the baby’s head pushing down on nerves in the pelvis as the head gets lower. You can try changing positions or resting for a while to relieve the pain.

Hip pain

The hormones of pregnancy cause the pelvis to relax and widen, creating more room for the baby to pass through the birth canal. Unfortunately, this means that hip pain is very common during the third trimester. The pain may occur in both hips or in just one, depending on how the baby is positioned. If possible, stay active and move to help prevent the pain from becoming unmanageable. Sitting on a birthing ball and avoiding standing for long periods of time may help. You can also try getting on your hands and knees and gently rocking back and forth to ease the pain when it gets bad. If these things don’t help, then wearing a pregnancy support belt or visiting a physical therapist may work better.

Back pain

The same hormones of pregnancy that cause the hips to relax also cause the joints in the spinal column to relax. The growing belly also throws off your center of gravity and causes your lower back to curve more than usual to support the weight of your growing uterus. This leads to muscle aches in the lower back. If you are having a sharp pain that starts in the lower back and shoots down the back of one of your legs, this is sciatica pain.

There are a number of things that you can try to help with all types of back pain. If one doesn’t work for you just try another exercise.

  • Don’t stay in any position too long, including sitting. When you do sit, make sure you are in a good supportive chair and put your feet up on a footrest.
  • Avoid lifting heavy items (anything more than 20 pounds).
  • Try to gain only the recommended amount of weight. If you gain too much weight, it makes your back and joints work even harder than they have to, causing more pain.
  • Wear shoes that have good support and a 1-2 inch heal, not flat shoes or high heels.
  • Take a warm bath or get a massage to help relax the muscles.
  • Apply a cold compress to sore muscles and then follow it with a warm compress for 15 minutes
  • Use a body pillow at night to help support the weight of your growing belly
  • Use a crisscross support belt
  • Strengthen your core muscles. You can find safe exercises online to do while you are pregnant.

Read more about this here.

10. Is a tubal ligation done with my c-section or right after I have the baby just as effective as a tubal ligation done later on?

Yes, tubal ligations that are done at the time of a c-section or shortly after a vaginal delivery, also called postpartum tubal ligations, are very effective. Their failure rates are less than 1% which are lower than failure rates from tubal ligations done at other times.

If you think that you want to have a postpartum tubal ligation, it is important to talk with your doctor about it before you have the baby. This is because some insurance companies require you to sign a special consent form at least 30 days before you have the surgery. If this consent is not signed you cannot have the procedure.

It is also important to know that the most common ‘complication’ of the procedure is regret for having had your tubes tied. So if your Ob/Gyn thinks that you are not 100% committed to not having any more children, they won’t do it. You really need to make sure that your family is complete before committing to a permanent form of birth control. Many women find out too late that tubal ligation reversals are very expensive, rarely covered by health insurance, and often have low pregnancy success rates after the reversal is performed.

Carrie Noriega
Dr. Carrie Noriega is a board certified obstetrician/gynecologist who has practiced medicine for more than 11 years. She is Pregistry's Medical Director and a medical writer. Carrie loves spending time with her husband and daughter, mountain biking, and outdoor adventures.

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