Questions for Your OB
Arrive at your first prenatal visit armed with these key questions
Question: Can I have caffeine?
Your doctor may have strong opinions about the use of caffeine found in coffee, soft drinks, and chocolate (yes, chocolate). If you are one who must have her latte every morning, this may be a shock to the system to give up caffeinated drinks. If you are a cola-with-meals woman, this question should be one you ask on that very first visit. Don’t be surprised if you have religiously cut out all caffeine during your pregnancy only to be confronted with a 9-month-pregnant soon-to-be mom toting her bottle of Pepsi to the birthing seminar at the hospital.
Question: Do I have to stop smoking?
Decades ago you might see a pregnant woman with a lit cigarette dangling from her lips, but today that picture is scarce. Smoking is a subject that has become controversial over the past few years. Not only is it unusual in many cities and states to see a pregnant woman smoking, but it has become increasingly rare to see anyone smoking. With businesses, restaurants, and even bars going smoke free, a smoker tends to hide behind a building in the alley when smoking.
Of course, smoking has been proven to cause health issues for everyone. So if you are a smoker who might have difficulty giving up the puffing, discuss this issue with your doctor. He will probably only give you the cons with no pros to this subject, but he may also give you suggestions for making quitting easier if that is your choice.
Question: Is an occasional drink OK?
Fetal alcohol syndrome has become a well-documented issue in pregnancy. But does that mean absolutely no alcohol? Some are surprised to find a few pregnancy books may recommend a glass of wine to relax during the beginning of contractions. So when is alcohol OK? Or is it? This is an important subject to discuss with your doctor.
Question: What is gestational diabetes?
First-time expectant moms may be surprised to discover a test for diabetes is a normal occurrence during prenatal visits. Gestational diabetes affects about 3 to 5 percent of pregnant women. Of those women who have gestational diabetes, half will have no signs of diabetes after the delivery. But the other half may develop diabetes later in life.
If you are one of those pregnant women who tests positive for this condition, expect your doctor to recommend a regulated diet that limits or eliminates sugars (and you thought you could eat anything you wanted when pregnant!). This diet will most likely include eating smaller meals more frequently as well as an exercise program. There is the possibility your doctor may recommend taking insulin to treat this condition depending on the severity of your diabetes.
Question: How much weight should I gain?
Weight gain is probably the first question asked by many first-time mom-to-bes. It may depend on your pre-pregnancy weight, height, and family history. There are many factors involved in this recommendation. Ask your doctor what a healthy weight gain would be for you. Should a woman be concerned about a healthy diet during pregnancy or can you believe the picture often portrayed of pregnant women eating anything and everything?
Question: Can I continue to exercise?
Exercise can be another issue that varies. If you have been very active before your pregnancy, your doctor may give you the go ahead to continue. If you have been inactive, it may not be wise to start a strenuous program during pregnancy. But in most cases some type of exercise is healthy. When asking about exercise, be sure to tell your doctor exactly what type of exercise and how much you are used to doing. There may be some activities that are inappropriate for you to continue—sky diving and bungee jumping are two that come to mind.
Question: What does a negative Rh Factor mean?
One of the conditions tested by those oh-so-many blood tests during your prenatal exam is a negative Rh factor in the blood. The majority of people are Rh positive. Whether you are negative or positive is only a problem when pregnancy comes into play. Years ago before this factor was determined and tested, a positive Rh factor baby born to a negative Rh factor mother might be called a “blue baby.” The mother with a negative factor will create antibodies to fight the positive intruder in her body.
These days this condition is easily determined with a simple blood test. Shots for the Rh negative mother during pregnancy and after the delivery will eliminate these antibodies from forming. It is, however, a question a pregnant woman should discuss with her doctor.
Question: Can STDs affect pregnancy?
If you have a sexually transmitted disease (STD) or are at risk for an STD during pregnancy, this is another question a doctor may need to address. What are the complications for the baby and is there a risk in choosing certain birthing plans if you have an STD?
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