Pregnancy tips

Prenatal appointments

You will see your health care provider a lot during your pregnancy. That is why it is important you choose someone you enjoy and trust. Most pregnant women have 10 to 15 prenatal visits.

Usually an expecting mother will visit her health care provider every four weeks during the first 28 weeks, then once every two weeks until 36 weeks, and then weekly until the baby is born. However, the number of times you visit your health care provider may vary because of your medical history or pregnancy complications.

Prenatal breast care

It is important if you plan to breastfeed to learn as much as you can. As natural as breastfeeding is, the proper technique is a learned art. Women with any breast shape and nipple size can nurse, but women with flat or inverted nipples should prepare them before baby is born. The nipples can be assessed around the sixth month of pregnancy.

It was once thought prenatal nipple preparation would toughen the nipples and prevent soreness. We now know this supple tissue cannot be toughened and with appropriate latch-on skills after delivery a mom can lessen and often eliminate nipple soreness.

Some mothers who begin nursing their babies have problems. St. Luke's Prenatal Breastfeeding Class, books and talking with other women who have nursed are great resources for learning about breastfeeding and hopefully avoiding these problems.

What to look for during pregnancy in preparation for breastfeeding:

Common nipple -

about 90 percent of pregnant women do not need to do any special preparation.

Flat nipple -

a flat nipple does not always "stick out," although it may when the woman is cold or sexually aroused. Although pregnancy helps to get this kind of nipple ready, many mothers find their babies can grasp hold of the nipple more easily if the mothers have done the Hoffman Technique and worn a breast shell.

Hoffman technique -

place the thumbs at the right and left edges of the areola. While pressing inward slightly, the thumbs are pulled firmly apart. This maneuver is repeated at least four times and then again with the thumbs at the top and bottom of the areola. There is some leakage of colostrum during Hoffman maneuvers - this is normal. If uterine irritability/cramping occur, stop using this technique.

Inverted nipple -

an inverted nipple looks like a slit or fold. A partly inverted nipple folds in at one side only. A woman can tell if she has an inverted nipple by gently pinching the nipple at the base using the thumb and forefinger. If the nipple shrinks back, it is an "inverted nipple." Many women with inverted nipples have successfully breastfed, but special preparation is helpful.

Breast shells -

breast shells can be worn prenatally and are for women with flat or inverted nipples. Contact St. Luke's Lactation Services at (319) 369-8944.

Nursing bra -

the best time for a woman to be fitted for a nursing bra is around week 34 of pregnancy. Cotton flaps, non - elastic straps and no underwires are important features of a nursing bra. Try the bra on before you buy it, you should be able to open the flaps with one hand. The bra should have at least two rows of hooks.

Food

Heat up luncheon meat before you eat it to prevent Listeriosis, an illness caused by bacteria. Pregnant women are 20 times more likely than healthy adults to get Listeriosis. Avoid raw meat and foods made with unpasteurized milk, including soft cheeses such as feta, brie, camembert, blue-veined cheeses and Mexican-style cheese such as queso blanco fresco. (Source - You & Your Baby: Pregnancy by Dr. Laura Riley, OB/GYN)

FDA/EPA recommends pregnant women avoid fish that contains high levels of mercury such as:

    Shark
    Swordfish
    King mackerel
    Tilefish (also known as golden or white bass or snapper)
    Marlin
    Grouper
    Spanish mackerel (from Gulf of Mexico)

Pregnant women can consume up to two servings per week of fish that are lower in mercury. These include:

    Shrimp - avoid raw fish and shellfish
    Canned light tuna - avoid white albacore tuna
    Pollock

Caffeine

Limit to 300mg per day, about 2 cups (total) of coffee, tea or pop. Some studies show caffeine is associated with low birth-weight babies when more than 2-3 cups is consumed.

Medications

Many women worry about taking prescription drugs while trying to conceive, or during the early stages of pregnancy. However, you should never stop taking prescription medications without consulting your health care provider first. Speak to your health care provider immediately about your medications.

Exercise

Before you start exercising, get your health care provider's approval. Your health care provider will probably say yes, unless your pregnancy is considered high risk. If you already exercise, stick to the routine you followed before you became pregnant. If you haven't exercised recently, start slowly and choose an activity that won't be too strenuous on your body.