Pregnancy FAQs

When should I schedule my first prenatal visit?

We like to see our patients around their 7th or 8th week of pregnancy. You should calculate your number of weeks from the first day of your LAST menstrual period. If you have any concerns or a history of ectopic pregnancy or miscarriage please call our office.

Tdap Information

What is pertussis?

Pertussis (also called whooping cough) is a highly contagious disease that causes severe coughing and difficulty breathing. People with pertussis may make a “whooping” sound when they try to breathe and gasp for air. Pertussis can affect people of all ages, and can be very serious, even deadly, for babies less than a year old. In recent out-breaks, babies younger than 3 months have had the highest risk of severe disease and of dying from pertussis.

What is Tdap?

The tetanus toxoid, reduced diphtheria toxoid, and acellular pertussis (Tdap) vaccine is used to prevent three infections: 1) tetanus, 2) diphtheria, and 3) pertussis.

I am pregnant. Should I get a Tdap shot?

Yes. All pregnant women should get a Tdap shot in the third trimester, preferably between 27 weeks and 36 weeks of gestation. The Tdap shot is a safe and effective way to protect you and your baby from serious illness and complications of pertussis.

When should I get the Tdap shot?

Experts recommend that you get the Tdap shot during the third trimester (preferably between 27 weeks and 36 weeks) of every pregnancy. The shot will help you make protective antibodies against pertussis. These antibodies are passed to your fetus and protect your baby until he or she begins to get vaccines against pertussis at 2 months of age. Receiving the shot early in the 27–36-weeks-of-gestation window is best be-cause it maximizes the antibodies present at birth and will provide the most protection to the newborn.

I got a Tdap shot during a past pregnancy. Do I need to get the shot again during this pregnancy?

Yes. All pregnant women should get a Tdap shot during each pregnancy, preferably between 27 weeks and 36 weeks of gestation. Receiving the vaccine as early as possible in the 27–36-weeks-of-gestation window is best. This is important to make sure that each new-born receives the highest possible protection against pertussis at birth.

Can newborns be vaccinated against pertussis?

No. Newborns cannot start their vaccine series against pertussis until they are 2 months of age because the vaccine does not work in the first few weeks of life. This is one reason why newborns are at a high risk of getting pertussis and becoming very ill.

What else can I do to protect my newborn against pertussis?

Getting your Tdap shot during pregnancy is the most important step in protecting yourself and your baby against pertussis. It also is important that all family members and caregivers are up-to-date with their vac-cines. Adolescent family members or caregivers should receive the Tdap vaccine at 11–12 years of age. If an adult (older than 18 years) family member or caregiver has never received the Tdap vaccine, he or she should get it at least 2 weeks before having contact with your baby. This makes a safety “cocoon” of vaccinated caregivers around your baby.

Can I get the Tdap shot and influenza shot at the same time?

Yes. You can get these two shots, Tdap and influenza, in the same visit. Receiving these vaccinations at the same time is safe.

What is the difference between DTaP, Tdap, and Td?

Children receive the diphtheria and tetanus toxoids and acellular pertussis (DTaP) vaccine. Adolescents and adults are given the Tdap vaccine as a booster to the vaccines they had as children. Adults receive the tetanus and diphtheria (Td) vaccine every 10 years to protect against tetanus and diphtheria. The Td vaccine does not protect against pertussis.

Is it safe to exercise during pregnancy?

If you are healthy and your pregnancy is normal, it is safe to continue or start most types of exercise, but you may need to make a few changes. Physical activity does not increase your risk of miscarriage, low birth weight or early delivery. However, it is important to discuss exercise with your obstetrician or other member of your healthcare team during your early prenatal visits. If your healthcare professional gives you the OK to exercise, together you can decide on an exercise routine that fits your needs and is safe during pregnancy.

How much should I exercise during pregnancy?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend that pregnant women get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity every week. An aerobic activity is one in which you move large muscles of the body (like those in the legs and arms) in a rhythmic way. Moderate intensity means you are moving enough to raise your heart rate and start sweating. You still can talk normally, but you cannot sing.

Examples of moderate-intensity aerobic activity include brisk walking and general gardening (raking, weeding, or digging). You can divide the 150 minutes into 30-minute workouts 5 days of the week or into smaller 10-minute workouts throughout each day.

If you are new to exercise, start out slowly and gradually increase your activity. Begin with as little as 5 minutes a day.  Add 5 minutes each week until you can stay active for 30 minutes a day.

If you were very active before pregnancy, you can keep doing the same workouts with your healthcare professional’s approval. However, if you start to lose weight, you may need to increase the number of calories that you eat.

What precautions should I take when exercising during pregnancy?

There are a few precautions that pregnant women should keep in mind during exercise:

  • Drink plenty of water before, during, and after your workout. Signs of dehydration include dizziness, a racing or pounding heart, and urinating only small amounts or having urine that is dark yellow.
  • Wear a sports bra that gives lots of support to help protect your breasts. Later in pregnancy, a belly support belt may reduce discomfort while walking or running.
  • Avoid becoming overheated, especially in the first trimester. Drink plenty of water, wear loose-fitting clothing, and exercise in a temperature-controlled room. Do not exercise outside when it is very hot or humid.
  • Avoid standing still or lying flat on your back as much as possible. When you lie on your back, your uterus presses on a large vein that returns blood to the heart. Standing motionless can cause blood to pool in your legs and feet. Both of these positions can decrease the amount of blood returning to your heart and may cause your blood pressure to decrease for a short time.

What are some safe exercises I can do during pregnancy?

Whether you are new to exercise or it already is part of your weekly routine, choose activities that experts agree are safest for pregnant women:

  • Walking—Brisk walking gives a total body workout and is easy on the joints and muscles.
  • Swimming and water workouts—Water workouts use many of the body’s muscles. The water supports your weight so you avoid injury and muscle strain. If you find brisk walking difficult because of low back pain, water exercise is a good way to stay active.
  • Stationary bicycling—Because your growing belly can affect your balance and make you more prone to falls, riding a standard bicycle during pregnancy can be risky. Cycling on a stationary bike is a better choice.
  • Modified yoga and modified Pilates—Yoga reduces stress, improves flexibility, and encourages stretching and focused breathing. There are even prenatal yoga and Pilates classes designed for pregnant women. These classes often teach modified poses that accommodate a pregnant woman’s shifting balance. You also should avoid poses that require you to be still or lie on your back for long periods.

If you are an experienced runner, jogger, or racquet-sports player, you may be able to keep doing these activities during pregnancy. Discuss these activities with your healthcare professional.

What exercises should I avoid during pregnancy?

While pregnant, avoid activities that put you at increased risk of injury, such as:

  • Contact sports and sports that put you at risk of getting hit in the abdomen, including ice hockey, boxing, soccer, and basketball
  • Skydiving
  • Activities that may result in a fall, such as downhill snow skiing, water skiing, surfing, off-road cycling, gymnastics and horseback riding
  • “Hot yoga” or “hot Pilates,” which may cause you to become overheated
  • Scuba diving
  • Activities performed above 6,000 feet (if you do not already live at a high altitude)

What are warning signs that I should stop exercising?

Stop exercising and call your obstetrician or other member of your healthcare team if you have any of these signs or symptoms:

  • Bleeding from the vagina
  • Feeling dizzy or faint
  • Shortness of breath before starting exercise
  • Chest pain
  • Headache
  • Muscle weakness
  • Calf pain or swelling
  • Regular, painful contractions of the uterus
  • Fluid leaking from the vagina

Why is it important to keep exercising after my baby is born?

Exercising after your baby is born may help improve your mood and decreases the risk of deep vein thrombosis, a condition that can occur more frequently in women in the weeks after childbirth. In addition to these health benefits, exercise after pregnancy can help you lose the extra pounds that you may have gained during pregnancy.

Should I stop using herbal products before becoming pregnant?

First tell your healthcare provider about all the products you use. Most herbal products have not been well studied during pregnancy, so it is not always possible to know how they might affect the ability to get pregnant or a future pregnancy. A pregnant woman or a woman planning a pregnancy may wish to consider other therapies for which more reproductive data is available.

Some herbal supplements have been shown to cause changes in hormones important for getting pregnant, and some products have been shown to cause hormone imbalance or uterine contractions that could lead to pregnancy loss. Each product’s ingredients should be looked at carefully.

Can I continue straightening/coloring my hair into pregnancy?

There are no good studies on using hair dye, hair perms, or hair relaxers during human pregnancy. Specific to hair dye, in animal studies with exposure levels 100 times higher than what would normally be used in humans, experts did not identify a risk to human pregnancy. It is thought that only a small amount of any product applied to your scalp would be absorbed into your blood and therefore, little would be able to get to the developing baby. The data in animals, along with the poor absorption through the skin, makes hair treatment in pregnancy unlikely to be of high concern.

A study in pregnant women looked at the use of hair straighteners. The use of these products was not found to increase the chance of low birth weight or preterm delivery. The study did not address the chance of other outcomes (such as birth defects). Again, it is likely that only a small amount of hair straightening products are absorbed into your system, so the developing baby would only be exposed to small amounts. Many obstetricians have their own opinion about using hair color and perms during pregnancy. We encourage you to ask your doctor for their opinion.

Am I at risk for Zika Virus?

What we know

  • Zika virus can be passed from a pregnant woman to her fetus
  • Infection during pregnancy can cause a birth defect called microcephaly and other severe fetal brain defects
  • Zika primarily spreads through infected mosquitoes. You can also get Zika through sex without a condom with someone infected by Zika, even if that person does not show symptoms of Zika.
  • There is no vaccine to prevent or medicine to treat Zika.

What we do not know

  • How likely it is that Zika infection will affect your pregnancy
  • If your baby will have birth defects if you are infected while pregnant
  • The full range of health effects that Zika virus infection during pregnancy might lead to

Pregnant women should NOT travel to an area with risk of Zika

  • Pregnant women should not travel to areas with risk of Zika (i.e., with documented or likely Zika virus transmission).
  • Pregnant women should consider postponing travel to yellow cautionary areas in the United States. For information on domestic travel, see CDC’s guidance.

During travel or while living in an area with risk of Zika

After travel

  • Talk to a doctor or other healthcare provider after travel to an area with risk of Zika.
  • If you develop a fever with a rash, headache, joint pain, red eyes, or muscle pain talk to your doctor immediately and tell him or her about your travel.
  • Take steps to prevent mosquito bites for 3 weeks after returning.
  • Take steps to prevent passing Zika through sex by using condoms from start to finish every time you have sex (oral, vaginal, or anal) or by not having sex.

For the most current information please visit the CDC website.

Should I get a flu shot?

The flu is a serious illness, especially when you are pregnant.

Getting the flu can cause serious problems when you are pregnant. Even if you are generally healthy, changes in immune, heart, and lung functions during pregnancy make you more likely to get severely ill from the flu. Pregnant women who get the flu are at higher risk of hospitalization, and even death, than non-pregnant women. Severe illness during your pregnancy can also be dangerous to your developing baby because it increases the chance for significant problems, such as premature labor and delivery.

The flu shot is the best protection for you – and your baby.

When you get your flu shot, your body starts to make antibodies that help protect you against the flu. Antibodies can be passed on to your developing baby, and help protect the baby several months after he or she is born. This is important because babies younger than 6 months of age are too young to get a flu vaccine. If you breastfeed your infant, antibodies may also be passed through breast milk. It takes about two weeks to make antibodies after getting a flu vaccine. Talk to your doctor, nurse, or clinic about getting vaccinated by October of each season, if possible.

The flu shot is safe for pregnant and breastfeeding women and their infants.

You can get the flu shot at any time, during any trimester, while you are pregnant. Millions of pregnant women have gotten a flu shot. Flu shots have not been shown to cause harm to pregnant women or their developing babies. If you have your baby before getting your flu shot, you still need to get vaccinated. The flu is spread from person to person. You, or others who care for your baby, may get the flu, and pass it to the baby. Because babies younger than 6 months are too young to receive the vaccine, it is important that everyone who cares for your baby get a flu vaccine, including other household members, relatives and babysitters.