Pregnancy FAQ

Q?Is it normal to have painful breasts?
A.

Yes, in fact, this symptom is even more common than morning sickness. You may also leak fluid from the nipples beginning at any time during your pregnancy. However, if the fluid is bloody, green or associated with a mass; please let your doctor know. It is also normal not to have any breast leakage until after the baby is born.

Q?When will the morning sickness stop and is it OK if it occurs at other times of day?
A.

Morning sickness may occur all day or intermittently throughout the day or night. At this stage, food probably tastes different and you may be very sensitive to smells. Usually, the morning sickness resolves by the end of the first trimester, approximately 12-14 weeks. See the handout on nausea and vomiting for further tips on improving the symptoms.

Q?When will I feel the baby move?
A.

You should feel the first flutters of movement sometime in the 15-20 week range. Usually, first time moms feel the movement closer to the 20 week mark and women who have had babies before tend to feel the movement a little earlier. Early movements feel like a gas bubble or like the flutter of butterfly wings.

Q?What will be done when I see the doctor for my office visits?
A.

For the first visit, you will have a complete physical exam, including blood work and a pap smear (unless you have had one recently). Most visits thereafter are much simpler consisting of checking your weight, blood pressure and urine. Then the provider will measure your abdomen and listen for the baby’s heartbeat. If you are having problems or the doctor detects something concerning, then further exams or testing may need to be performed. During the last month of visits, you will also have a vaginal exam to check the cervix for dilation. You will be seen more frequently during the later part of your pregnancy, as pregnancy-related complications occur more frequently at that time. It may seem as though not much is done during your visits, but the providers are looking for any warning signs of problems. If it’s any easy visit, be thankful that there aren’t any serious concerns.

Q?How many ultrasounds are done during my pregnancy?
A.

The routine ultrasound, performed at 20 weeks of pregnancy, is to survey the fetal anatomy to look for any potential developmental problems. Any other ultrasounds will be ordered at your doctor’s discretion depending on any concerns she may have where an ultrasound may be necessary for diagnostic reasons.

Q?What tests are done during my pregnancy?
A.

Routine screening tests are performed at the time of your visit, such as a blood count, pap smear, urinalysis and STD (sexually transmitted disease) testing. There are optional screening tests for disorders such as Down Syndrome, Cystic Fibrosis and Spina Bifida. You will be tested for gestational diabetes around 26-28 weeks, which involves you consuming a sugary drink. Your blood will be drawn one hour later. Finally, near the end of your pregnancy approximately 35-36 weeks, you will be tested for GBBS (group B Beta strep) which is a swab of the vagina that detects the presence of bacteria that is normally present in many women. However, some babies may develop an infection if they pass through the vagina colonized with beta strep. This can be serious for the baby, so women who test positive will be given antibiotics during labor to decrease the chance of transmission.

Q?When do I have to undress?
A.

You will only need to undress for the first visit and the last month of visits, unless you are having problems at other times of your pregnancy which may require a pelvic exam.

Q?What does a contraction feel like?
A.

A contraction may be experienced differently by each woman. Generally, a contraction feels like a painful tightening involving your entire abdomen that comes and goes. Early labor, however, may just feel like a persistent menstrual cramp. Some women may also experience contractions in their low back. Labor is when you are having strong enough contractions to result in cervical dilation. Many women will contract frequently throughout much of their pregnancy, but typically these contractions (Braxton Hicks contractions) are not painful or persistent. They may occur more frequently when you are dehydrated, active, have a full bladder, or in the evening. They may be noticed only occasionally and should resolve with rest and hydration. If you are preterm and have 4-6 contractions per hour that don’t improve with rest and drinking water, please present to labor and delivery at the hospital.

Q?What do I do if my water breaks?
A.

Your water may break at any time during your pregnancy, but usually doesn’t occur until you are near your due date. It may feel like a large gush of fluid or may be only a persistent trickle. It may be difficult to discern between discharge and urine, if it is only a small amount. It is not uncommon to have a more mucousy discharge during your pregnancy, especially near the end, or to leak urine on occasion. However, when your water breaks, the fluid usually is clear and odorless. You may feel the need to change your underwear frequently. Losing your mucous plug is OK and does not need to be reported to your physician. If your water breaks, however, please go to labor and delivery at the hospital as soon as possible, even if you are not having contractions.

Q?Will my baby’s cord get wrapped around his/her neck if I lift my arms above my head?
A.

No, this is an old wives’ tale.

Q?Is it normal for my baby’s heart rate to change from visit to visit?
A.

Yes, just like us, a baby’s heart rate needs to change to compensate for increased or decreased need for blood throughout the body. The normal range is 120-160 beats per minute. However, early in pregnancy the rate may be even higher. As your pregnancy progresses, the baseline heart rate will likely decrease from what it was early in the pregnancy. As the baby’s system matures, there will be more variation in the heart rate due to adjustments in needs.

Q?Will drinking castor oil induce labor?
A.

It may, but we don’t advise it. You will spend time being miserable on the toilet and the uterus could be over stimulated, which sometimes results in the baby not tolerating contractions. Again, please don’t do this, it is not worth risking harm to the baby.