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Pregnancy Q&As

  1. Expert: Dr. Jennifer Shu
    June 17th, 2011
    Is my newborn eating enough?

    Newborn infants typically feed around eight to 12 times per day and will be able to go longer in between meals as they grow. By 10 weeks, most babies will take four to six ounces of breast milk or formula at a time–sometimes even more.

    But remember that a baby's stomach is about the size of her fist, so she shouldn't be expected to eat too much at each feeding. By about four months, many babies do the majority of their feeding in the day and the bulk of their sleeping at night, so short daytime naps are not unusual. 

    For infants who seem to eat small amounts very frequently through the day, here are some things to consider:

    1. Could there be a problem with the baby's digestive tract? Talk to your pediatrician and make sure your baby is growing normally. Let your doctor know if your baby vomits or has problems with urinating or bowel movements.

    2. Are you feeding the baby at times when she's not truly hungry? A fussy baby who wants to sleep more may still take a bottle if offered. This could interrupt longer naps and might make her less hungry when it's time for a real feeding. Avoid the temptation to feed your baby just because she is crying. A pacifier or clean finger (yours or the baby's) might do the trick.

    3. Some babies (usually newborns) fall asleep easily at the breast or bottle and need a little encouragement to continue. Techniques to keep baby awake include gently stroking her feet, changing her clothes or diaper, and (if drastic measures are needed) giving her a bath before finishing off the meal.

    4. Patterns of short feeds and naps can be normal in many babies who are transitioning from the newborn period to a more "grown-up" routine. Keep following your baby's cues: feed her when she's hungry and allow her to sleep when she's not and eventually she will settle into a better pattern.

     

    Jennifer Shu, M.D., F.A.A.P. is a board-certified pediatrician in Atlanta. Her passion is educating parents on all topics relating to children. Dr. Shu is editor-in-chief of the American Academy of Pediatrics' Baby & Child Health: The Essential Guide from Birth to 11 Years and co-author of the award-winning book Heading Home with Your Newborn and Food Fights, both published by the AAP. www.jennifershu.com

  2. Expert: Joanne Saab, RD
    June 1st, 2011
    Are herbal teas safe during pregnancy?

    The list of herbal teas that are safe to drink during pregnancy is short, simply because not enough studies have been done.

    Chamomile tea, however, is definitely not safe during pregnancy. Despite its soothing properties, chamomile may act as a uterine stimulant and was traditionally used to induce abortion and should be avoided.

    Safe herbal teas you can enjoy while pregnant include: citrus peel, ginger, lemon balm and rose hip–and you can have up to two to three cups a day of any of them.

    Other foods to avoid during pregnancy include: raw meat, pâté, raw fish (including oysters and sushi) and soft, unpasteurized cheeses, which contain the bacteria Listeria monocytogenes. Cheeses to avoid include: Brie, Camembert and blue-veined cheeses, such as Roquefort. Some pre-packaged soft cheeses, such as feta or chèvre, may be pasteurized, but just check the labels to make sure and avoid buying them fresh from a deli counter.

    If you're ever unsure about what is safe during pregnancy, a great resource is Motherisk (motherisk.org) at Toronto's Hospital for Sick Children.

    Joanne Saab is a registered dietitian who practices in pediatrics at McMaster Children's Hospital in Hamilton and has co-authored three books in conjunction with the Hospital for Sick Children: Better Food for Kids, Better Food for Pregnancy and the best-selling Better Baby Food.



  3. Expert: Andrea Grace
    May 18th, 2011
    Is running during pregnancy safe?

    Running or jogging during pregnancy can be a great aerobic exercise, as long as you take a few precautions.

    First, it's important to check with your doctor or midwife so they can give you the "all clear." 

    Usually, if you ran regularly before getting pregnant, it's fine to continue as long as you're still feeling okay. The key is to listen to your body and, at the first sign of discomfort, to slow things down.

    The first trimester is a crucial time when the baby's major organs are forming and overheating is an issue. If your core temperature gets too high, it could cause problems with the baby, so be sure to take it slowly on hot days and drink plenty of fluids. 

    You may find that you're short of breath in the first and third trimesters and will have to modify your exercise routine accordingly. Eventually, your new shape may make running or jogging uncomfortable, in which case walking or power walking are great alternatives.

    It's not a good idea to start running if you weren't running on a consistent basis before getting pregnant. Pregnancy is also not such a great time to start training for a marathon or any other race–save that for after the baby is born when you're ready to work toward getting back in shape.

    Andrea Grace is the president and creator of Mommy and Baby Fitness pre- and post-natal fitness programs with locations across North America. She is a CanFitPro and ACE certified fitness professional with specialty certifications in pre-and post-natal and children's fitness.mommyandbabyfitness.com

  4. Expert: Tracey Mallett
    February 21st, 2011
    Is downward dog safe during pregnancy?

    Any exercise where your head is lower than your heart should be practiced in moderation after the first trimester because additional blood volume can lead to nausea and/or loss of breath. Downward dog can be done in moderation, but don't hold the position for extended periods of time.

    If you decide to do the pose throughout your pregnancy, listen to your body and stop if you feel uncomfortable in any way. Also, modify the pose by keeping your knees bent and your heels lifted off the floor to reduce stress on your lower spine. Your arms should also be positioned a little further apart than in your regular practice. The modification means your body weight will be supported predominantly by your upper body to reduce compression of your abdomen.

    Safe alternates:

    Exercises that give similar benefits to downward dog are the cat-cow yoga pose and standing hamstring stretches with your foot resting on a chair.

    Tracey Mallett is a certified personal trainer and sports nutritionist. She is the author of Sexy in 6:  Sculpt Your Body with the 6-Minute Quick Blast Workout, as well as the creator and star of the 3-In-1 Pregnancy System for pre- and post-natal mothers. Her newest videos are Renew You and Super Body Boot Camp. A proud mother of two, Tracey lives in Los Angeles, California. (www.TraceyMallett.com)

  5. Expert: Dr. Marjorie Greenfield
    October 13th, 2010
    Is it safe to fly when you're pregnant?

    For most women with a normal, healthy and low-risk pregnancy, travel is fine and is a fact of life. But there are a few things you should know before packing your bags:

    1. The most stable part of pregnancy is from approximately 12 weeks to about 20 to 24 weeks and it's also when you're most likely to be feeling your best-so this is usually a good time to plan a trip. Just remember to check in with your doctor or midwife before going away, just so they're aware that you're leaving and can give you the all-clear.

    2. On long trips when you're not moving, there's an increased risk of blood clots in your legs so it's important to get up and take a 10-minute walk every two or three hours. (And, if you're driving, that means getting out of the car for 10 minutes every two to three hours-usually your bladder requires that you do that anyway!)

    3. People sometimes worry about radiation exposure when traveling by plane. If you're doing a tremendous amount of flying, there may be some amount of radiation exposure, but for most people it isn't an issue.

    4. You may not want to be too far from home in your first trimester if you haven't seen your pregnancy on ultrasound or heard a heartbeat. (Early on, most women have a 15 to 30 percent chance of miscarriage, depending on their age and other risk factors, so they may not want to travel somewhere where there is less guarantee of finding quality medical care.)

    5. You may also not want to be too far from home in your third trimester, especially if you're showing signs of preterm labor or have any risk factors for early delivery. If you end up going into labor early, you could be stuck in a foreign city with a newborn who needs to spend a few weeks in intensive care. It's important to talk to your doctor about whether it's advisable for you to go away and, if you do decide to travel, take a copy of your medical records with you.

    6. If you need to travel later in your pregnancy, be sure to contact the airline regarding its cutoff policy. (For instance, all American Airlines and Air Canada flights allow pregnant women to fly up to and including 36 weeks, after which air travel is only allowed for short flights, under special circumstances and must be cleared by the airline's medical desk with a note from your doctor saying that you're fit to travel.)

    7. If you're planning a visit to an exotic location, make sure your immunizations are up to date and be sure to check with your doctor and consult a travel medical specialist well in advance of your trip.


    Marjorie Greenfield, M.D. is a practicing board-certified obstetrician-gynecologist and is currently associate professor on the  full-time faculty at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine. Her new book, The Working Woman's Pregnancy Book, hit the bookshelves in May. marjoriegreenfield.com

     

  6. Expert: Dr. Lisa Kellett, M.D., F.R.C.P.(C), D.A.B.D.
    September 13th, 2010
    What can I do about pregnancy mask?

    Chloasma, or pregnancy mask, usually occurs as a darkening of the skin on your cheeks, upper lip or forehead–it resembles a mask because the brown discoloration is often symmetrical, appearing on both sides of your face. (On darker skinned women, the patches are light in colour.)

    Chloasma is caused by the increased production of melanin (the tanning hormone) during pregnancy, which is why sun exposure can make the patches appear even darker and more obvious. Pregnancy mask usually fades on its own, but some people continue to experience it post-pregnancy. Bleaching creams, chemical peels and light treatments, such as lasers, can help lighten your skin, but are only safe after the birth of your baby. In the meantime, your best bet is to invest in a good-quality foundation to even out your skin tone.

    To help prevent pregnancy mask, the best thing you can do is protect yourself from the sun by using a broad spectrum SPF of 30 or higher every day. If you're pregnant during the summer, it’s also a good idea to wear a hat broad-brimmed hat.

    Dermatologist Dr. Lisa Kellett is a Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians of Canada, a Diplomat of the American Board of Dermatology, a member of the Canadian Dermatology Association, the Canadian Laser Aesthetic Surgery Society, and the Toronto Dermatological Society. For more information and skincare advice from Dr. Kellett, check out www.dlkonavenue.com and www.skinlibrary.com

  7. Expert: Andrea Grace
    August 31st, 2010
    Is it safe to exercise during pregnancy?

    If you followed a regular exercise program before getting pregnant, you should be able to maintain that program to some degree during your pregnancy. The key is to listen to your body as it changes. Here are some things to keep in mind when exercising during pregnancy:

    • Your body will naturally give you signals that it's time to reduce your level of exercise. Never exercise to the point of exhaustion or breathlessness–this is a sign that your body (and your baby) can't get the oxygen supply they need.
    • Wear comfortable footwear with strong ankle and arch support.
    • Take frequent breaks and drink plenty of fluids.
    • Avoid exercise in extremely hot weather.
    • Avoid rocky terrain or unstable ground when jogging. Contact sports and those with a potential for hard falls (such as horseback riding and skiing) should be avoided, while stationary cycling is recommend to reduce the risk of falls associated with regular cycling.
    • Weight training should emphasize improving tone–so increase the repetitions and decrease the weight. Avoid lifting weights above your head and using weights that strain the lower back muscles.
    • Due to the increase in your resting heart rate and decrease in maximal heart rate during pregnancy, don't use target heart rate to determine intensity of exercise.
    • Great exercises for moms-to-be include: any form of swimming or water exercise, walking and yoga, which can help your body prepare for the birthing process.


    Precautions: See your health care provider if you experience any of these symptoms during or after intense exercise: nausea, dizziness, shortness of breath, vaginal bleeding, sudden swelling of hands, ankles or face, headache, high heart rate, amniotic fluid leaking, back or pelvic pain.

    Some information provided by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists

    Meet our expert:

    Andrea Grace is the president and creator of Mommy and Baby Fitness, pre- and post-natal fitness programs with locations across North America. She is a CanFitPro and ACE certified fitness professional with 20 years of teaching experience and specialty certifications in pre-and post-natal and children's fitness. mommyandbabyfitness.com


  8. Expert: Jennifer Wise, B.H. Sc., D.C.
    May 24th, 2010
    My baby is breech. Is it true she might flip with the Webster technique?

    The Webster technique is a chiropractic method that was developed to help the fetus move freely–and it can be used to prevent and convert breech-birthing positions.

    The technique tends to be most effective when used earlier in pregnancy, but it’s never too late to try. (The Webster technique has been successful in turning a breech baby as late as 39 weeks.)  

    A chiropractor trained in the technique can assess your situation to determine whether there are imbalances in the bones, ligaments and muscles in your pelvis that may be causing a breech position. If these imbalances are found, your chiropractor will then use chiropractic adjustments to restore balance, which may give your baby the room she needs to flip.

    Visit www.icpa4kids.org to find a chiropractor trained in the Webster technique in your area.

     

  9. Expert: Dr. Peter Doubilet and Dr. Carol B. Benson
    May 10th, 2010
    How early can a woman take a pregnancy test?

    Pregnancy tests come in two varieties: urine and blood tests. Both of these check for the presence of a chemical called human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) that is produced by the pregnancy and enters into the mother’s bloodstream and urine.

    HCG is first detectable in the woman’s blood or urine approximately two weeks after conception. Since conception occurs at the midpoint of the four-week menstrual cycle, pregnancy tests first become positive at about the time a woman misses her period and first suspects that she might be pregnant.

    A woman can take a pregnancy test to see if she is pregnant as soon as she misses her period. But it’s a little more complicated than that, for the following reasons:

    Not all women’s bodies are exactly the same, so pregnancy tests in some women may not become positive until about a week after the missed period.

    Blood tests are more accurate than urine tests, especially early in pregnancy. So, in the first few days after the missed period, a urine test might be negative when a blood test is already positive.

    A positive pregnancy test (blood or urine) means that a woman is pregnant, but does not tell where the pregnancy is located (in the uterus, where it should be, or an ectopic pregnancy in the fallopian tube), or whether the pregnancy is developing normally. Ultrasound can provide this information one to two weeks after a missed period by showing where the pregnancy is developing and whether or not the embryo’s heart is beating.

  10. Expert: Dr. Peter Doubilet and Dr. Carol B. Benson
    February 16th, 2010
    When can I hear my baby's heartbeat?

    By the time you are about six weeks pregnant, your baby’s heartbeat will already be visible on ultrasound. Then, at around 10 weeks, a Doppler ultrasound will allow you to hear your baby's heartbeat.

    The first time you see or hear your baby’s heartbeat is a joyous and exciting moment–and also very reassuring as it is a sign that the pregnancy is going well and that the fetus is developing.

    When you first hear your baby's heartbeat, you may notice that it sounds very fast, but don’t worry because that is completely normal. At six weeks, your baby's heart beats at about 100 to 120 beats per minute, speeding up to about 160 to 180 beats per minute at 10 weeks, then slowing to 130 to160 beats per minute by the beginning of your second trimester. 

    Dr. Peter Doubilet and Dr. Carol B. Benson are Harvard Medical School professors of Radiology. They teach and see patients at the Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston and are co-authors of Your Developing Baby (McGraw-Hill, 2008), a pregnancy guidebook that takes readers through every stage of a baby's development, using 2D and 3D ultrasound images, original explanatory diagrams and reader-friendly prose. Yourdevelopingbaby.com