FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Sometimes people are too embarrassed, too busy, or just don’t know the right questions. The questions on this page should cover a lot of aspects of what you need to know though.

Frequently Asked Questions About Pregnancy

Answers

Is cramping during pregnancy normal?

Early in pregnancy, uterine cramping can indicate normal changes of pregnancy initiated by hormonal changes; later in pregnancy, it can indicate a growing uterus. Cramping that is different from previous pregnancies, worsening cramping, or cramping associated with any vaginal bleeding may be a sign of ectopic pregnancy, threatened abortion, or missed abortion.

Other physical effects that are normal during pregnancy, and not necessarily signs of disease, include nausea, vomiting, increase in abdominal girth, changes in bowel habits, increased urinary frequency, palpitations or more rapid heartbeat, upheaving of the chest (particularly with breathing), heart murmurs, swelling of the ankles, and shortness of breath.

Will douching help to prevent pregnancy after coitus interruptus?

No not all, however it is far better to bathe and make sure that anything with ejaculate on it does not get near the vagina within one to six hours, their known lifespan outside the body.

Why do pregnant women feel tired?

Fatigue in early pregnancy is very normal. Many changes are occurring as the new pregnancy develops, and women experience this as fatigue and an increased need for sleep. Lower blood pressure level, lower blood sugar levels, hormonal changes due to the soporific effects of progesterone, metabolic changes, and the physiologic anemia of pregnancy all contribute to fatigue. Women should check with their health care provider to determine if an additional work up, prenatal vitamin changes, and/or supplemental iron would be beneficial.

What are the first symptoms of pregnancy?

Missing a period is usually the first signal of a new pregnancy, although women with irregular periods may not initially recognize a missed period as pregnancy. During this time, many women experience a need to urinate frequently, extreme fatigue, nausea and/or vomiting, and increased breast tenderness. All of these symptoms can be normal. Most over-the-counter pregnancy tests are sensitive 9-12 days after conception, and they are readily available at most drug stores. Performing these tests early helps to allay confusion and guesswork. A serum pregnancy test (performed in a provider's office or laboratory facility) can detect pregnancy 8-11 days after conception.

How can stretch marks be prevented?

Unfortunately, striae (stretch marks) cannot be prevented. The degree to which a woman experiences stretch marks is determined genetically. Stretch marks usually occur when weight is lost or gained quickly. Using creams and gels rarely make a difference. Fortunately, stria fades with time and marks become silvery white, but they do not tan.

You can't get pregnant while breastfeeding, can you?

There is still a very widespread misconception (that has already provided many a baby with a little brother or sister) that women can't get pregnant while breastfeeding. Breastfeeding does actually have an inhibitory effect on fertility/ovulation. But it is only possible with hindsight for a nursing mother to know for sure whether or not she has ovulated, i.e. when she has her first period.

And once solids are introduced (when you start to give your baby other foods in addition to breast milk), there is an increased likelihood of you starting to ovulate again, with a return to fertility. If you don't wish to take any risks, then you should also use contraception while breastfeeding. Your gynecologist will tell you which methods of contraception are appropriate for you.

I have been taking the pill but did not get my period this month. Am I pregnant?

If you are regularly taking the pills, you are very unlikely to be pregnant. The pill is highly effective. If your period does not come, it does not necessarily mean that you are pregnant as long as you did take it as directed. It could be that the lining of your womb has not built up very much and is therefore not being expelled. If menstruation does not come for more than two months in a row talk to your doctor or healthcare provider before you start taking the new strip.

When will the uterus return to normal size?

The uterus returns to pre-pregnancy size after approximately 6 weeks. This is accomplished through a process called involution. During this process, the uterus has contractions that women may be able to feel, especially with breastfeeding.

Does pregnancy place women at increased risk of becoming infected with HIV?

Current evidence is conflicting as to whether pregnancy increases a woman's chances of infection if exposed to HIV. If she does become infected with HIV during pregnancy, however, the chances that HIV will be transmitted to her baby during pregnancy, delivery, and childbirth may be at their highest because she will have a high level of virus in her blood. Thus, it is important for pregnant women to protect themselves from HIV and other STIs through condom use. If a pregnant woman thinks that she may have HIV, she should seek HIV testing. Resources may be available to help her prevent transmitting HIV to her baby during pregnancy, delivery, and childbirth.

WHAT DO I DO IF…

I FORGOT MY PILL

THE CONDOM BROKE

WE HAD UNPROTECTED SEX