Ask Dr.Helliwell: First Time Pregnancy Questions | Advanced Women’s Health Center

I had the opportunity to sit down with Advanced Women’s Health Center’s Dr. Jason Helliwell again and ask a few questions first-time Mamas are asking their doctors. If you are wanting to become or have recently become pregnant, continue to read this article for insightful answers to the questions we all have the first time around.

What should I do as soon as I find out I’m pregnant?

Generally speaking, stay calm. After you have notified your spouse, you should continue to live a healthy life and make a doctors appointment to confirm the Pregnancy is normal and get an accurate due date by ultrasound. You should stop any toxic habits such as consumption of alcohol, smoking of any kind, and of course any drugs or medications that are not okayed by your OB Doctor. Once you see you doctor you can bring a list of any medications that you were taking before you were pregnant to see if they are safe to continue or should be switched. Mild to moderate exercise and sex are ok to continue unless you are at risk for a miscarriage diagnosed by your doctor. In this case, you doctor will likely put you on bed and pelvic rest.

When will I feel my baby kick/move?

The first time might be around 17 weeks. This is called ‘quickening’ and is usually just once or not very regular. Mothers-To-Be usually start to feel regular, daily movements between 20-24weeks. Most OB doctors will instruct patients to check for 10 kicks in an hour or less, once a day, starting at 28 weeks. This is called the ‘Fetal Kick Count’ and helps assure fetal well-being and decrease risk for fetal death due to Fetal Distress that can go unrecognized.

How often do I have Dr. Appointments?

From the first time you find out you are pregnant to about 24 weeks, appointments with your doctor are every 4 weeks unless there is concern or high-risk issues to monitor more often. After 24 weeks it’s every 2 weeks until about 35 weeks, which at that point goes to once a week until the baby is born. Of course when there is a high-risk situation or medical complications the visits can and usually are more often.

When will I be able to find out the sex?

By ultrasound usually by 16 weeks. But if indicated (certain high-risk factors need to apply) your doctor can order a maternal blood test that checks the chromosomes of you baby, which will tell you the sex. This test can be done as early as 10 weeks.

What Medicines are okay to take?

Generally, you need to check out all medicine with your OB doctor before taking because many are safe but others are not even within classes of medications. For example, there are certain high blood pressure medications that are safe and certain ones that are not, your doctor just needs to know all you will be taking. If you’re currently pregnant and using meds, you should stop use until you check them with a doctor.

Most over the counter medications are safe.  For example, Tylenol or acetaminophen is the safest pain or headache medicine. Zertec, Claritin, and Benadryl are safe allergy medication and Robitussin is safe for a cough.

Careful, one should avoid Aspirin, Motrin, Naproxen, or other NSAID medication for pain. These can cause a shunt to close earlier that it should in your baby’s heart possibly resulting in complications.

When will my morning sickness go away?

Usually by the 2nd trimester or 12 weeks. Some unfortunate patients have nausea and vomiting through all or most of their pregnancy. A severe form of this cause Hyperemesis Gravidarum and the patient may need daily IV medication and fluids that could require her to be off work and on bed rest.

How will I know if I’ve had a miscarriage? How common are they? Can I prevent that?

Bleeding, cramping, and pain can be signs of a miscarriage. It’s important to note that these signs don’t always mean a miscarriage. Some miscarriages occur with no bleeding or cramping and is only diagnosed by ultrasound. Overall, the rate of miscarriage is about 15% in the 1st trimester and about 5 % in the 2nd and 3rd trimester.

In general, no,  there isn’t much one can do to prevent a miscarriage. Mainly because the most common cause of miscarriage is due to abnormal pregnancy (chromosome abnormality). But in reoccurring miscarriages (usually more than 3) there are some medical conditions such as low Progesterone, and Lupus Anticoagulant Syndrome (a blood clotting disorder) that can be treated to help prevent miscarriage.

What is considered abnormal and merits a call?

In early pregnancy,  a patient should call if she has pain or bleeding.In mid to late pregnancy, a patient should call for bleeding, leakage or fluid, contractions, pain, or decrease fetal movements. In general, it is difficult to say all scenarios when to call but if you think there could be something wrong or are concerned, it does not hurt to call your doctor. We don’t mind a phone call. It is always better to be safe rather than sorry. We are here to serve you.

What should I avoid eating or eat more of?

It’s a myth that you should complete avoid eating any one kind of food or drink other than alcoholic beverages. There some foods that are best to eat in moderation such as sushi or tuna because of the small amounts of mercury in the fish that could potentially be a problem for the baby if you ingest large amounts daily.

Other foods to eat in moderation are hotdogs or cured meats as they contain small amounts of nitrates as a preservative which could also be a problem of ingested daily and large amounts. Pregnant patients should avoid eating unpastured cheeses such as cheese purchased in other countries like Mexico as this could put the patient at risk for a disease called Listeriosis.

Is there really a difference between Folic Acid and Folate?


Can you suggest a good prenatal pill? There’s so many to choose from.

I think they are all essentially the same. But I do recommend taking one with DHA. This is a type of fish oil that is thought to help fetal brain development. Other than that, some prenatal vitamins are large (generic prenatal’s) and can be hard to take when you having morning sickness. If this is happening to you ask your OB doctor for an alternative that is easier to take and may cause less nausea. These are usually not generic and may cost more.

Can I have sex while pregnant? Does the baby feel it?

Yes, in general sex is ok during all trimesters unless you are in preterm labor or have a shortened cervix. In these cases or other medical conditions, your OB doctor will tell you not to have sex and likely put you at bed rest. So if your doc hasn’t told you this, sex is ok. No, the baby does no feel it.

How active can I/should I be?

Normally mild to moderate activity is ok and good to do during your pregnancy. It helps to keep weight down and keep you in shape for the delivery which is a very physically demanding event. If your OB doctor puts you on bed rest due to preterm labor or other medical conditions you should not be active at that time.

What are some common symptoms to watch for?

Anytime you don’t feel good or have a feeling something is not tight you should let your OB doc know. Like, decrease fetal movement, contractions, leakage of water (your bag of water might have broke), bleeding or pain. Let us know.

Whats the difference in trimesters?

It’s just a way to divide the pregnancy into thirds. The first trimester is when the baby is developing his or her organs and this is where abnormalities can result if the mother is taking toxic substances. The 2nd and 3rd trimesters are mostly about growth for the baby. The baby goes from the size of a walnut to 6-7lb baby.

I just want to grow a healthy baby, give me the road map!

Become as healthy as you can before you getting pregnant. Don’t smoke, drink alcohol and try not to be overweight. If you have any medical conditions like diabetes, get them under control with your primary care doctor before you become pregnant.

During your Pregnancy take care of yourself, be healthy, exercise and do not gain too much weight (the normal is 20-25lbs). See your OB doctor regularly, this will allow your doc to catch any problems early.

Anything else you’d like us to know about a first-time pregnancy?

It’s a joyful time in a mother’s life and for the whole family. Don’t get to stress about myths or should and should not’s. Just check with your OB to help guide you through, then relax and enjoy this unique time your life.

Please share this article with a friend or on your facebook if you know of anyone we could help inform for the betterment of their pregnancy and baby!

If you have recently  become pregnant and are without an OB Doctor, please contact Advanced Women’s Health Center!

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