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Pregnancy fears laid to rest
Shilpa Shet
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June 27, 2007

Will it go alright?

This is the first question every woman asks herself when she learns she is pregnant. Expecting a child is a joyous experience, but it also a time when a mother-to-be must take the utmost care of herself and her unborn child.

It is therefore necessary to get all your questions regarding pregnancy answered, either by your obstetrician, or any other reliable, trusted source.

Dr Meenakshi Rao, a Mumbai-based consulting gynaecologist and obstetrician, says, "When it comes to pregnancy, general awareness has increased greatly, as compared to a few years ago. However, I still like to stress that good antenatal care is essential for all pregnant women."

Here, Dr Rao lays some common pregnancy-related fears she often comes across, to rest:

~ What does bleeding during pregnancy indicate? Is it a cause for concern?

Mild spotting during the first month of pregnancy is called 'implantation bleeding', and is not a cause for worry, but you should inform your doctor about it. "Bleeding could indicate a low-lying or displaced placenta, and in extreme cases, a serious problem with the foetus. It should be reported immediately to your doctor," Dr Rao advises.

~ Should an expectant mother be alarmed about abdominal pain?

Mild abdominal pain during pregnancy could be due to gas. "However, intense abdominal pain like the pain one feels during menstruation should not be ignored," says Dr Rao. "Especially if the pain is accompanied by a hardening of the uterus. It could be an indication that labour is coming on. And this need not happen only in the ninth month, it can happen prematurely too." Once again, contact your doctor immediately.

~ For how long does the morning sickness phase last?

The morning sickness routine varies among women. For some, it lasts for the whole of the first trimester. Others experience it for only a few weeks, or for as little as a few days. Many women do not feel any kind of sickness at all.

~ Will a past history of miscarriages and abortions affect my current pregnancy?

"You do need to be careful if you have a history of past miscarriages and/or abortions," says Dr Rao. Adequate antenatal care is especially required for the first few months. "The first six weeks are critical," she asserts, "We need to be careful in today's fast-paced world. However, there is no need to panic -- if necessary measures are taken, you have very little to worry about."

~ Do ultra sonographies (USGs) affect the baby's growth?

"Research indicates that a USG or sonography is not harmful," says Dr Rao. "It is an important tool that helps us examine signs like bleeding, and the progress of the baby. Normally, 2-3 USGs are just fine -- one in the first trimester, the next in the fifth month of pregnancy, and the last in the third trimester."

~ Expectant mothers should not eat oily and/ or spicy foods. Is this true?

Spicy and oily foods should definitely be avoided during the first trimester of pregnancy. "Such foods bring on nausea," says Dr Rao. "You should eat healthy foods throughout your pregnancy. Avoid eating out, since contaminated meals can cause diarrhoea or worse. Generally, remain aware of health risks, and act accordingly."

~ Is food cooked or heated in a microwave safe for a pregnant woman?

Yes, microwave food is rather safe. "In fact, you tend to use less oil when cooking in a microwave," says Dr Rao.

~ Can expectant mothers indulge in sex during pregnancy?

"Sex is not advised during the first trimester of pregnancy," says Rao. "After that, depending on what your doctor says, you can start having sex -- but the hygiene and comfort of the mother should be looked to at all times."

~ Can a pregnant woman sleep on her stomach? 

It is not advisable to sleep on your stomach during pregnancy, specifically during the first and third trimesters. "Experts recommend lying on your side," says Dr Rao. "Lying on your left side increases blood circulation to the baby, and is hence advisable."

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