Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Pregnancy — 1st trimester
- Q: I am nauseated all the time—what can I do?
A: Read about nausea in pregnancy.
- Q: I don’t know how far along I am. Do I need an ultrasound? How do I know when to come in?
A: If you have been having regular 28-30 day menstrual cycles, you probably conceived on day 14 of your cycle. If you are uncertain when your last menstrual period was or have irregular cycles, call to speak with one of our nurses, and she can get you set up for an ultrasound at 7-8 weeks to help determine a due date.
- Q: I am having brown vaginal discharge. Should I be concerned?
A: Brownish vaginal discharge is usually from older blood, not current bleeding. It can happen if you’ve had recent excessive or strenuous activity including sports, exercise, stair climbing, or recent intercourse. You don’t need to be concerned unless it becomes bright red or is actively flowing.
- Q: Is it normal to experience some cramping?
A: Some women experience cramping very early in pregnancy. This may be due to uterine growth, stretching of ligaments, or dehydration.
- Q: I have a history of miscarriage. Do I need to be seen sooner?
A: If you have a history of repetitive miscarriages, you should call as soon as you get a positive pregnancy test. Sometimes, your doctor may order lab work or an early ultrasound around weeks 7-8.
- Q: When does my risk of miscarrying decrease?
A: The risk for miscarriage is highest in the first trimester. Approximately 20% of all pregnancies end in miscarriage, the majority during the first trimester.
- Q: Can I continue my usual exercise regimen?
A: If you were exercising prior to your pregnancy, you should be able to continue. You should not overexert yourself. Do not exercise to the point of becoming breathless. Stop exercising if you feel pain.
- Q: Why don’t I see my doctor until I’m 10-12 weeks?
A: Ten to 12 weeks is the earliest providers can hear a baby’s heartbeat with the abdominal Doppler. You will be seen sooner if you are having problems and/or complications prior to that.
Pregnancy — 2nd trimester
- Q: I’m having some cramping — should I be worried?
A: Cramping can be due to the baby growing and the round ligaments stretching. It can also be due to dehydration or overexertion. Decreasing your activity level, rest, Tylenol, tub soaks, and avoiding heavy lifting can help. If uterine cramps are accompanied by spotting or bleeding, call the clinic.
- Q: How do I know if I’m having contractions?
A: Your uterus is a muscle. If it contracts, your entire abdomen will feel firm all over. If it feels firm only in one area, this could be the baby’s head, back, or bottom. Contractions can occur with positional changes, overexertion, or dehydration. It is not worrisome if contractions occur sporadically and occasionally. Call the clinic if you are having repetitive tightening or more than 6 contractions per hour.
- Q: What can I do for headaches? Tylenol is not taking them away.
A: If Tylenol isn’t helping, you may need to lie down in a dark quiet room with a cool cloth on your forehead. Try to avoid any stimuli (no telephone or TV). Avoid straining your eyes. You may also try taking small sips of a caffeinated beverage. Call if you are seeing spots, having blurred vision, or vomiting with headache.
- Q: My ankles are getting swollen — should I be concerned?
A: Swelling can be due to the increased blood volume you have while pregnant or from prolonged standing or sitting. It can also worsen in hot, humid weather or with high salt intake. Try elevating your legs as much as possible, wearing support hose and drinking 8-10 glasses of fluids per day. Call if you have a sudden increase in swelling, visual changes, nausea, or vomiting.
- Q: I feel lightheaded — what should I do?
A: Lower blood pressures during pregnancy cause dizziness or lightheadedness. Avoid sudden changes in position by getting up slowly. You should also drink plenty of fluids and avoid skipping meals. Sometimes, wearing compression tights will help if you feel lightheaded while standing for prolonged periods.
Pregnancy — 3rd trimester
- Q: Should I take prenatal classes at the hospital?
A: We encourage 1st-time moms and dads to take prenatal classes. They help prepare you for labor and your delivery and eliminate some of the fears of the unknown.
- Q: How do I know if my water has broken?
A: You may experience a large gush of fluids or possibly a slow and steady leak. If you are uncertain, you should call.
- Q: It feels like I’m contracting — should I be concerned?
A: If you are not yet 37 weeks and are having frequent contractions (greater than 6 or more per hour), we will want to try to stop or slow your contractions. Call to come in to be evaluated, either at the clinic or at the hospital.
- Q: I have a severe headache and nothing is helping — should I come in?
A: If you’ve tried Tylenol every 4 hours and rested with a cool cloth to your forehead with no relief, we need to check your blood pressure either in the clinic or hospital.
- Q: I just had a pelvic exam in the clinic and now I’m having some bleeding.
A: During the final weeks of pregnancy, many women have some bleeding or bloody discharge for approximately 24 hours after a pelvic exam. This is because your cervix is quite vascular and engorged. Call if you see flowing red blood.
- Q: What does it mean that I have a positive Group B Strep (GBS) culture result?
A: GBS is checked between 35-37 weeks. If you are positive, you will be given an IV antibiotic during labor. Approximately 25% of all pregnant women carry GBS in the genital and GI tract. You cannot get sick from GBS, but babies can get quite sick if they contract it during a vaginal birth.
- Q: I’m having some shortness of breath and can’t sleep very well. What can I do?
A: Some women feel heartbeat irregularities or shortness of breath due to the increased blood volume during pregnancy. Lying on your back may worsen your symptoms. Also the increased size of your baby pushes up on your diaphragm, making it harder to breathe. Try sleeping in a recliner or propped up with pillows, or lie on your left side for best results.
- Q: My baby’s movements have slowed way down — should I be worried?
A: If you believe your baby’s activity has decreased, try doing fetal kick counts. Lie quietly and count your baby’s movements and be sure to eat and take in some fluids first. – you should feel 10 movements within 2 consecutive hours. Remember: movements in the third trimester are often less vigorous but should still be frequent. Call the clinic if you are concerned.
- Q: How do I know when I’m in real labor?
A: Early contractions tend to be irregular. Labor contractions are usually more frequent and stronger. Call when your contractions are 5 minutes apart, lasting for 1 minute, and continuing for more than 1 hour.
- Q: There's fluid leaking from my surgical scars — should I be worried?
A: There may be a small amount of bloody fluid coming from the incision sites. This is okay. There may also be some black and blue discoloration surrounding the incisions. This will resolve on its own.
- Q: Why do my scars feel hard?
A: Under each incision you may feel hardness. This is the normal process of healing and represents scar tissue, which will soften over time.
- Q: When can I resume physcial activity?
A: Use common sense and let your pain limit your activity.
- Q: I have pain in my upper body. What causes this?
A: You may experience shoulder or rib cage pain, especially on the right side. This is due to diaphragm irritation caused by CO2 gas used for laparoscopic procedures. It should dissipate within 1-2 days.
- Q: Why am I still feeling pain?
A: It is common to feel pain in a variety of locations. This is usually mild and most likely due to your position on the operating table.
- Q: I have a sore throat; is this normal?
A: A sore throat is common after general anesthesia and will resolve on its own.
- Q: I'm experiening nausea and constipation. What can I do?
A: Pain medication may cause nausea and constipation. For nausea, try to reduce the amount of narcotic pain medications and/or avoid taking them on an empty stomach. For constipation, try a fiber laxative such as Citrucel, Benefiber, or Miralax, or a stool softner such as Colace. These can be purchased over the counter.