Whether you’re trying or you’re on baby number three, you’re bound to have a few questions regarding the process of pregnancy and birth. One of our very own, Dr. Jeffrey Thurston, dedicated quite some time to writing his book, 1000 Questions About Your Pregnancy—and we’ve compiled ten of the most common questions—and answers—here just for you (some have been shortened to fit this post).
When should I worry if I’ve been trying to get pregnant, but can’t?
Infertility has been defined as the condition that results when a couple has unprotected sex at or around midcycle for the period of a year without conception. Many people find this to be a very long time when their best friends got pregnant on the first try. But remember that each ejaculate has an average of at least twenty million sperm per cubic centimeter headed for only one egg. This ratio occurs because most of the sperm don’t get near the target. They are either lost in the abdomen or genital tract, trapped in cervical mucus, destroyed by vaginal fluids, or end up as a wet spot on the sheets!
If, however, your periods are irregular (varying by more than forty-eight hours each month) or you’re not having periods at all, you may not be ovulating and should consult your physician either when planning to conceive or after six months of trying.
Can I drink alcohol while pregnant?
It probably isn’t a big deal. But the operative word here is probably. The official position of both the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) is that no safe level of alcohol has been established.
Alcohol has been associated with fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS), in which the baby is born with an unusual (atypical) facial appearance, and is destined to develop mental retardation, growth deficiency, and behavioral disturbances. It was first described in 1973, but has subsequently been confirmed by many other studies. Data is inconclusive about the effects of one to two alcoholic drinks a day. Even women who drink more than six drinks of hard liquor a day are only at a 40 percent risk of their fetus developing FAS… However, the fact remains that no safe minimal level of alcohol consumption is known. The best advice is to avoid alcohol completely during your pregnancy.
Are there activities I should avoid in the first trimester of pregnancy?
Very few. Scuba diving, water-skiing, and skydiving are forbidden because of the possibility of serious injury, or even death. Otherwise, essentially all exercises, including jogging, stair-climbing, swimming, NordicTrack, Power/Health Riders, and sex are permissible. None of these activities is associated with miscarriage in a normal pregnancy.
Is lovemaking safe during pregnancy?
You bet! Historically, sex has continued virtually unabated despite pregnancy. Only in the presence of a threatened miscarriage, placenta previa, and premature rupture of the membranes, threatened preterm labor, or preeclampsia can sex really be said to be contraindicated.
I feel so tired. How can I help myself feel better?
Fatigue is normal and particularly marked in the first and early second trimesters. The hormonal changes associated with pregnancy that lead to massively increased cardiac output are probably responsible. By ten to twelve weeks your heart may be pumping an extra liter of blood per minute. This combined with the huge energy requirements of enlarging the uterine muscle just flat out make you tired!
I’ve had breast implants. Can I still breastfeed my baby?
There are two aspects of this issue. In most cases, whether your implants are saline or silicone, or above or below the muscle, breast-feeding is not hindered. Whether breast-feeding with silicone breast implants poses a risk to the fetus is still debated. At this time, the great preponderance of belief is that the potential benefits far outweigh any theoretical risks.
How long should I be allowed to go past my due date?
Usually about ten days. One of the meanest tricks ever played on womankind was instilling in her the belief that there is such a thing as a due date. Pregnancy is two hundred eighty days, or forty weeks, from the last menstrual period, or two hundred sixty-six days from conception. However, “term” is considered thirty-eight to forty-two weeks.
What are the stages of labor?
You may feel like defining the stages of labor as panic, the long haul, and finished—but they are a little better defined in medical terms. Labor means the regular, repetitive contraction of the uterus leading to the successive effacement and dilation of the cervix. The first stage occurs from the onset of these regular contractions to four to five centimeters of dilation. This stage may take many hours and averages about nine hours in a first labor.
The second stage occurs from four to five centimeters to complete dilation and is accompanied by the descent of the presenting part to about halfway or more down the birth canal. Usually, dilation occurs more rapidly in this stage than the first. The cervix usually opens at least one to two centimeters per hour during this stage, so that whole second stage is two and a half to five hours. The third stage of labor is the expulsion of the placenta, or afterbirth, which can take five minutes to a half-hour after delivery.
Should I get an epidural or not?
It is impossible to answer that question until you are in labor. Asking it beforehand demonstrates a misunderstanding of the process and the inherent variation from one woman to another. There is no doubt that the vast majority of women would successfully deliver babies without epidurals. They’ve done so for millennia.
Is it safe? Absolutely. Is it common? In our tertiary care facility with about five thousand deliveries per year, well over 80 percent of women choose epidural anesthesia.
How long does it take to push the baby all the way out?
That varies tremendously. On average, you can expect to push about one and a half to three hours with a first baby. Subsequent babies may take as little as one push over a two-minute period to just as long as your first labor. In general, pushing without an epidural may take a little less time than with an epidural.
Pregnancy is kind of a big deal—and these ten questions barely scratch the surface of the concerns you may have. If you can’t wait to read more, don’t—Dr. Thurston’s book is available on Amazon, Kindle, Nook Books, and iBooks.
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If reading isn’t your style, come in and talk to us in person—we’d love to help you on your journey to parenthood!