Pregnancy can be one of the most exciting and one of the most worrisome times in a woman's life. Excitement about your new arrival is often accompanied by concerns about your health and the health of your unborn child. At Novant Health Piedmont Women's Care, we work to address concerns quickly and give you the information you need to make informed decisions about your pregnancy.
Prenatal care schedule
One of the best things you can do for yourself and your baby is to start prenatal care as early as possible. If you are pregnant or you think you might be, call our office to schedule an appointment. After your initial appointment to confirm pregnancy, you will typically see a provider:
- Once a month during the first two trimesters (up to 27 weeks).
- Once every two weeks from week 28 to week 34.
- Once a week from week 35 until delivery.
In some cases or if certain complications arise, your provider might want to see you more frequently.
Typical prenatal visits include:
- Weight and blood pressure checks.
- A urine test.
- A measurement of the growth of your uterus.
- Monitoring of your baby's heartbeat.
- Time to ask questions about your pregnancy.
Ultrasounds are typically done once per trimester. At your ultrasound at or around 18 weeks, gender can be determined if you want to know before delivery.
The following testing is done at specific points during pregnancy to ensure your health and the health of your unborn baby:
- A Pap test will be done at your first prenatal visit if you are due for one.
- Gonorrhea and chlamydia testing will be done at your first prenatal visit so these infections can be treated to prevent the risk of infection of the baby and preterm delivery. This testing will be repeated at week 36, and is required by state law.
- Blood typing. A blood test to determine your blood type is important as some maternal blood types pose a risk to an unborn baby. For Rh negative women, this testing can be repeated later in pregnancy.
- Blood antibody screens. If a mother has been exposed to certain blood antibodies, that could put an unborn baby at risk of low blood counts.
- A test for rubella immunity. If a mother is not immune to rubella, she risks passing a rubella infection to her baby.
- Hepatitis B Surface Antigen (HBSAg) testing. If a mother is a hepatitis B carrier, it is recommended a baby get special immunizations at birth to prevent infection.
- Complete blood count. This blood test can identify anemia in the mother.
- Urine culture. Pregnancy increases the risk of urinary tract infections.
- HIV testing. This testing is strongly encouraged so steps can be taken to prevent the passing of the infection to the baby.
- Syphilis testing. Required by state law at week 28, this testing allows your provider to treat the infection in a mother and so lessen the chances of passing the infection to the baby.
- Diabetes screening. In high-risk patients, this is completed in the first trimester. All patients receive this testing at week 28 to identify an increased risk of gestational diabetes.
- Group B strep testing. This test is completed close to delivery so the risk of passing the infection to a baby at delivery can be minimized.
Pregnancy diet and behavior
Healthy eating and behavior during pregnancy is important to both you and your unborn baby. Here are some things to keep in mind while pregnant:
- Drink plenty of water.
- Avoid alcohol, tobacco and recreational drugs.
- Limit caffeine to one serving per day.
- Continue your exercise routine, but do not start new exercise programs without consulting your provider first.
- Avoid fish with high levels of mercury.
- Do not eat raw fish or meat.
- Do not drink any unpasteurized juice or milk.
Medications during pregnancy
You can take Tylenol when needed, but avoid aspirin and other non-steroidal pain relievers. Other medications safe to take, listed by ailment, include:
- Common cold, congestion and seasonal allergies: Tylenol, Sudafed, Dimetapp, Triaminic, Coricidin, Theraflu, Allegra, Cold-Eeze, Zyrtec, Claritin, Benadryl, Mucinex
- Diarrhea: Immodium AD, Kaopectate
- Nausea: Dramamine
- Indigestion/heartburn: Mylanta, Pepcid AC, Rolaids, Zantac, Tums, Gaviscon, Maalox
- Hemorrhoids: Anusol ointment, Preparation H (cream, ointment or pads), Tucks pads
- Contact dermatitis/rash: Benadryl cream or tablets, Calamine lotion, 1% hydrocortisone cream, Aveeno products (avoid hot baths)
- Cough: Robitussin, Dimetapp, Triaminic, Coricidin, Benylin, cough drops
- Sore throat: Tylenol, Chloraseptic spray, Cepacol or Halls lozenges, warm water salt gargles, Cold-Eeze
- Sleep/Insomnia: Tylenol PM, Benadryl
- Headache/fever:Tylenol PM, Tylenol
- Constipation: Colace, Citrucel, FiberCon, Metamucil, Milk of Magnesia, Hydrocil, Dulcolax suppositories, Dialose plus Penefiber
- Gas: Mylicon, Mylanta, Gas-X, Phazyme, Lactaid
- Leg cramps: Tums, Benadryl
Changes associated with pregnancy
Hormonal fluctuations during pregnancy can lead to many physical changes in your body. The following symptoms can be expected during pregnancy. Not all women will experience all symptoms:
- Nausea and vomiting. This is particularly common during the first trimester. If you experience nausea: Eat smaller, more frequent meals; eat dry foods such as crackers or toast; avoid greasy, fatty or fried foods; limit dairy intake; avoid strong odors; and avoid lying down immediately after eating.
- Frequent need to urinate. This is common throughout pregnancy.
- Increased breast size.
- Headaches, nosebleeds and vaginal discharge. These are common throughout pregnancy.
- Faintness and tiredness. These are common during early and late pregnancy.
- Contractions. These can happen as early as month four, but most women won't notice them until month seven or eight.
- Heartburn, indigestion, backache, breast leakage, hemorrhoids, constipation, bleeding or swelling gums, heart palpitations, leg cramps, pelvic pain or discomfort, excessive salivation, shortness of breath, blotchy or discolored skin, stretch marks, swollen hands and feet, and varicose veins. These are common later in pregnancy.
IF YOU EXPERIENCE BLEEDING, SPOTTING, SHARP ONE-SIDED PAIN OR PAIN THAT DOES NOT GO AWAY WITH MOVING, CALL YOUR PROVIDER.