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Frequently Asked Questions about Pregnancy

Congratulations, mom-to-be! No doubt you have questions about what your pregnancy will be like, and you might even be a little nervous about what lies ahead. Speaking with your doctor and learning as much as possible about pregnancy will empower you to be the best mother you can. The following answers to some frequently asked pregnancy questions will help you get started.

Help! I’m feeling nervous about my pregnancy. What can I do?

Don’t be afraid to reach out to others and express your concerns. “Talk with your partner, family or friends about how you are feeling. Keeping your feelings bottled up will only make you feel worse,” says the Office on Women’s Health (womenshealth.gov). Take time to speak to your partner, your family and friends and let them know you’re nervous. Building a support network now will help you throughout your pregnancy. Share your questions, concerns and excitement with your support network and you may be surprised how many mom friends and family members felt the same way you do now. And, chances are, those moms-in-the-know have advice you can use, too.

Also, learn as much as you can about pregnancy. Check out books from your library, explore reputable medical resources online, and be sure to speak with your doctor. “By educating yourself, you will know what to expect and feel more in control,” assures the OWH.

Do I really need to take a prenatal vitamin?

This is a good question for you and your doctor to discuss. But most OB-GYNs and pediatricians suggestion expectant moms take a prenatal vitamin containing folic acid throughout their pregnancy. As the U.S. Public Health Service explains, “all women capable of becoming pregnant (should) consume 400 micrograms of folic acid daily to prevent neural tube defects (NTDs).”

How many appointments will I need throughout my pregnancy?

Prenatal care during pregnancy is absolutely essential. “This consistent care can help keep you and your baby healthy, spot problems if they occur, and prevent problems during delivery,” explains the OWH.

Routine checkups usually occur:

  • Once each month, from week four through week 28

  • Twice a month, from week 28 through week 36

  • Weekly from week 36 until you give birth.

The above schedule may change slightly, depending on your pregnancy and your OB-GYN’s practice policies. Be sure to speak with you doctor for a complete schedule of your prenatal appointments.

How many ultrasounds will I have?

Ultrasound exams can be performed at any point during pregnancy, but they aren’t always considered a routine prenatal test. Most OB-GYNs suggest moms-to-be have at least two:

  • The first test usually occurs during your first trimester as part of a biophysical profile (a prenatal ultrasound evaluation).

  • The second is typically scheduled between 18 and 20 weeks, “to look for signs of problems with the baby's organs and body systems and confirm the age of the fetus and proper growth,” says the OWH.

When can I find out the gender of my baby?

During your second-trimester ultrasound appointment, you may be able to learn the gender of your baby; generally between 18 and 20 weeks, according to the OWH.

Can I still exercise during my pregnancy?

The Office of Women’s Health reports that you can indeed exercise throughout your pregnancy. “Unless your doctor tells you not to, try to get at least two hours and 30 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity a week,” the OWH advises.

To maximize the health benefits of working out during pregnancy, and to keep you and your baby safe, spread out your workouts throughout the week. “If you worked out regularly before pregnancy, you can keep up your activity level as long as your health doesn’t change and you talk to your doctor about your activity level throughout your pregnancy,” adds the OWH.

How much weight should I gain during pregnancy?

“You should gain weight gradually during your pregnancy, with most of the weight gained in the last three months,” according to the USDA Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion.

The government agency suggests women gain weight at the following rate:

  • 1 to 4 pounds total during the first three months (first trimester)

  • 2 to 4 pounds per month during the fourth to ninth months (second and third trimesters)

The total amount you gain during pregnancy depends on your weight at the time of conception. For women who maintained a healthy preconception weight, the USDA suggests gaining between 25 and 35 pounds. Be sure to speak with you doctor to find out what rate and amount of weight gain are right for you.

How will I know when it's time to go to the hospital?

Clock your contractions to track when they start, how long they last and time between each. This is a good indicator of how soon the first stages of labor will start. “With true labor, contractions become regular, stronger and more frequent,” says the OWH. These contractions will also establish a regular pattern and not taper off or go away, even if you change position or alter your activity.

“If you ever are unsure if contractions are true labor, call your doctor,” recommends the OWH. A quick phone chat will ease your mind and help you understand if you need to stay home and wait a bit longer, or jump in the car and head to the hospital.

About Our Experts

Office on Women’s Health (womenshealth.gov)

Part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the Office on Women's Health provides leadership and coordination to improve the health of women and girls through policy, education and model programs.

American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP.org)

The AAP is medical organization composed of over 60,000 pediatricians committed to supporting and educating families with infants through young adults to better develop and maintain optimal physical, mental and social health and well-being.

U.S. Public Health Service (usphs.gov)

The Public Health Service is a government organization overseen by the Surgeon General that focuses on providing education and services to protect, promote and advance the health of U.S. citizens.

USDA Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion (choosemyplate.gov)

The CNPP was established in 1994 to improve the nutrition and well-being of Americans; the USDA Food Guidance System is one of this government agency’s core programs.

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