First of all, congratulations! We hope that this is good news for you; please talk with us if you are having difficulty with the discovery that you are pregnant. We look forward to helping you get through your pregnancy in an informative, supportive and confidence-inspiring way…thank you for choosing us! If you have non-emergency questions, please give us a call at 729-6300 or message us via MyChart.
While the information is still fresh please jot down the following:
- when your last menstrual period started
- how many days it usually is between periods (start of one to the start of another)
- when you feel you may have conceived
- when you first had a positive pregnancy test.
- Home pregnancy tests are generally very reliable; this does not need to be repeated in our office.
Here are some frequent questions that come up after learning you are pregnant:
How and when should I schedule my first appointment?
Please call our office at (608) 729-6300 as soon as possible to schedule your “First OB” visit. We generally try to see you around 8 weeks from the start of your last period. (Obstetrics tradition is odd, in that everything is calculated from the start of your last menstrual period, even though you generally don’t conceive until 2 weeks after that; you get credit for two weeks when you’re not even pregnant yet!) Your due date will be calculated and confirmed after reviewing your history and performing an ultrasound using an internal (vaginal) probe that will get a very good picture of your developing baby. Ultrasounds done very early in pregnancy are extremely accurate in determining or confirming the age of the pregnancy, and we feel it is very important to try to clarify this at your first visit. A normal due date is 40 weeks from the first day of the last menstrual period (or, 38 weeks after conception.) To calculate an estimated due date visit http://www.perinatology.com/calculators/Due-Date.htm.
When you call to schedule your First OB appointment, your call will be transferred to one of our nurses, who can review some basic information for you and answer any immediate questions. We will also plan to send you some information about healthy habits during pregnancy, test options that may be discussed with you, medication questions that you might have, and we will direct you to our website, where other forms and information may be found before your first visit. You will have your consistent care provided by the same physician at each visit. However, since we all share coverage at Meriter Hospital, you will have a chance to meet the other physicians during your visits near the end of your pregnancy, in case they participate in your labor or birth care.
What are common early pregnancy symptoms?
Common early pregnancy symptoms may include: breast tenderness and enlargement; nausea/queasiness or dislike of certain foods or smells; vomiting; fatigue, sleepiness and need for more sleep; urinary frequency; slight odd pelvic sensations such as “twinges,” dull aches or other feelings. If nausea and vomiting are severe, there may be a medication that we can prescribe for you. Constipation may be noticeable for some. Some women will have some minimal pink vaginal discharge or slight spotting in early pregnancy. Severe pain or cramping, bleeding as heavy as a menstrual period, and severe dizziness or lightheadedness are not normal early pregnancy signs; you should contact us at 729-6300 if you are experiencing any of these symptoms.
What should I avoid during pregnancy?
We ask that you avoid exposure to as soon as you suspect that you might be pregnant:
- recreational drugs
If you smoke cigarettes, please try to stop or at least cut down significantly. See below for what foods to avoid.
Your prescription and non-prescription medications will be reviewed with you, and suggestions made if any medications need to be stopped or altered.
How should my nutrition and diet change during pregnancy?
As far as nutritional intake, this is the time to “make what you eat count.” A balanced and varied diet that includes fruits and vegetables, calcium sources, protein and whole grains is the best. In early pregnancy, some foods may not be appetizing. Foods with strong odors may not be well-tolerated by some women; meat and vegetables also seem to be difficult for early pregnancy sometimes. Choosing blander versions, foods that are cold, or non-traditional meals (cereal for lunch!) may be the easiest way to go. Many women do better with several small meals (grazing) during the day, and many also notice that too much food or too long of time between eating may not work out. Be creative; if you’re having trouble tolerating food, then eat whatever you can, whenever you can—it will be fine for the first few months. Especially in early pregnancy, you only need about 100 extra calories a day beyond what you were normally eating before pregnancy…that’s not much!
We hope you have already been on a folic acid (folate) supplement prior to conceiving. If you have not, you should start taking a supplement with at least 800 micrograms (mcg) or 0.8 milligrams (mg) of folic acid. Adequate folic acid helps prevent Neural Tube Defects (NTD’s, a spine-development defect of the fetus.) We can prescribe a prenatal vitamin for you, or it is generally easier to purchase an “over-the-counter” prenatal vitamin to start immediately. If these vitamins are not well tolerated in early pregnancy, please consider trying 2 Flintstones Complete chewable vitamins, Gummy Vits, or anything else you can tolerate. We can also give you a prescription for Folic Acid alone, which is sometimes better tolerated. If you do not have at least 1000mg of calcium in your diet, it may be helpful to take a calcium supplement separately from your vitamin (so it doesn’t cancel out the iron).
In general, 1-2 servings of caffeine a day has not been shown to cause any significant harm in pregnancy. Likewise, a few servings of NutraSweet, Splenda or Sunnett artificial sweeteners per day appear to be safe. Please avoid foods that may pose an increased risk of Listeriosis (a bacterial infection that can harm the fetus) or Mercury exposure. For more information:
What kind of exercise can I do during pregnancy?
We offer a prenatal fitness class at MWH. For the full schedule, visit Fitness@MWH.
Any exercise or physical activity that you have been accustomed to may be continued in early pregnancy. If fatigue or nausea make it hard for you to exercise as much, using small hand weights to continue muscle conditioning and walking outside are very nice alternatives. Please let us know at your first visit if you participate regularly in any exercise program/activities, so that we can discuss any limitations you may need. There are several prenatal exercise classes and yoga classes available in the area that are appropriate and enjoyable.
Can I continue sexual activity in pregnancy?
Sexual activity may be continued as much as you are comfortable. Having sex will not cause a miscarriage or hurt a developing baby. Because of uterine growth and increased blood flow, sometimes sexual activity will cause some slight pink/red/brown spotting. If this is not heavy and is not accompanied by severe pain or severe cramping, it is not anything to worry about. Some conditions later on in pregnancy may carry a recommendation to avoid vaginal intercourse for the safety of the pregnancy.
Are there times when I shouldn’t travel out of town during pregnancy?
Travel is generally fine for much of pregnancy; please let us know of any travel plans involving air travel or prolonged car travel after 24 weeks of pregnancy. After 34 to 35 weeks we recommend that you are within an hour of UnityPoint Health–Meriter Hospital.
What causes a miscarriage? Can I do anything to prevent it?
Most pregnancies grow and progress normally. Occasionally, a pregnancy will not progress as planned, and may end up being a “non-viable” pregnancy. The term “miscarriage” is used to describe early pregnancy loss. While not uncommon (15-25% of conceptions may end in non-progression of the pregnancy), this situation is obviously very difficult for those experiencing it. Unfortunately, there is little to no control over nature in these situations; practically nothing you do will cause a miscarriage, and very little that you or we do can prevent this from happening if it is destined to do so. If you are having both significant bleeding and cramping together in early pregnancy before your first visit, please call to speak to one of our nurses about further evaluation.
Can my partner come to my appointments?
You are welcome to bring your partner, your spouse, or any other support person with you to your first appointment. We will ask or confirm your health history, ask about any previous pregnancy history, possibly do a physical examination, and do an internal ultrasound. We will also give you some instructional information for the rest of your pregnancy, and perform some laboratory tests. This appointment may take up to an hour and a half.
Is there a book for fathers to guide during pregnancy?
Patients have recommended The Guy’s Guide to Surviving Pregnancy, Childbirth, and the First Year of Fatherhood.
Where do we deliver your babies?
UnityPoint Health–Meriter Hospital, 202 S. Park St. Madison, WI 53715