Pregnancy Questions

How early can I have a pregnancy test?
At Austin Pregnancy Resource Center, we offer free and confidential pregnancy tests that can detect results as soon as 7 to 10 days after conception, which is even before a missed period. When a woman is pregnant, her body produces a hormone called HCG, which is found in her urine and in her blood. A pregnancy test yields a positive result when this hormone is present. After a positive test result, see your doctor for confirmation of pregnancy.

What are some of the symptoms of pregnancy?
* a missed menstrual period
* nausea or vomiting
* fatigue
* tender or swollen breasts
* darkening of areola (breast nipple)
* frequent urination
* frequent headaches
* backaches
* food cravings
* appetite changes
* weight gain or loss

Symptoms alone, however, cannot confirm a pregnancy. If you have exhibited any of these symptoms or if you think you might be pregnant, call or contact Austin Pregnancy Resource Center to schedule an appointment for a free and confidential pregnancy test.

What should I know about fetal development?
Conception: The egg is fertilized by a sperm and they form one cell smaller than a grain of sugar. This one cell contains the plans for every detail of the baby’s development, including sex, hair and eye color, height and skin tone.

Day 5-9: New individual burrows into the wall of the womb. Sex can be determined.

Day 24: The baby’s heart begins to beat.

Week 3: The brain, spinal cord and nervous system develop.

Week 8: All body systems are present. The lungs are forming, brain waves are recorded, muscles work together, and reflexes are present. The baby begins to respond to touch, can feel pain, and can move, kick, swim, jump & stretch.

Week 10: The body is complete. Changes after this are primarily in size, rather than appearance.

Month 3: Shows the lung and brain growth largely completed. The baby can hear, suck her thumb, and her fingers can grasp objects. Her fingerprints are already evident. The baby can even wrinkle her forehead!

By End of Month 4: The baby is 8 to 10 inches long and weighs a half-pound or more. Her heart pumps 16 gallons of blood every day and her mother can now feel her moving.

Months 5-6: The baby grows to be about 12 inches long and has a chance to survive outside the womb.

Months 7, 8 & 9: The baby uses the 4 senses of vision, hearing, taste and touch. She can recognize her mother’s voice. Eyelids open and close, eyes look around.

By End of Month 9: The baby normally weighs 6-9 lbs. and is now ready for birth.

Call your doctor immediately if…

* persistent abdominal pain or cramping
* vaginal bleeding
* constant severe headaches
* persistent vomiting or diarrhea
* a gush or leaking of fluid from the vagina
* excessive swelling of the hands or face

The information provided on this website is not intended to diagnose any condition or pregnancy and should not take the place of your medical practitioner. Consult your physician with any medical questions you might have. The information and services are provided with the understanding that neither Austin Pregnancy Resource Center nor its suppliers or users are engaged in rendering legal, medical, counseling or other professional services or advice.

How to stay healthy during pregnancy.
Prenatal Care

Prenatal care is the care you get while you are pregnant. This care can be provided by a doctor, midwife or other health care professional. The goal of prenatal care is to monitor the progress of a pregnancy and to identify potential problems before they become serious for either mom or baby. As soon as you think you are pregnant:

Call your health care provider to find out when you should come in for your first prenatal care appointment. During your pregnancy, make sure you attend all of your prenatal care appointments, even if you’re feeling fine. Sometimes getting to an appointment may be difficult or it may seem like a waste of time. For the sake of your baby, though, make getting prenatal care a priority.

Eating for Two

A new baby! What better reason to make some changes in your diet? If you were eating a well-balanced diet before you became pregnant, you probably won’t need to make big changes. But some little changes can make a big difference in ensuring that you and your baby get all the vitamins, minerals and calories needed for a healthy pregnancy. Rely on ingredients from the five healthy food groups: grain products, vegetables, fruits, protein foods, and milk and milk products. To get the nutrients you and your baby need, choose these foods every day:

Grain products provide carbohydrates, your body’s main source of energy. Choose 6-11 servings of whole-grain or fortified products such as whole-wheat bread, cereals, brown rice or pasta. One serving is a slice of bread, or a cup of cooked rice or pasta. Fruits and vegetables provide important vitamins and minerals, as well as fiber to aid digestion. Choose at least three vegetables and two fruits every day, including a juice or fruit rich in vitamin C, such as an orange. One serving is a cup of raw, leafy vegetables or 1/2 cup raw or cooked non-leafy vegetables, one whole raw fruit, or 1/2 cup cooked or chopped fruit.

Protein foods, such as meat, fish and dried beans, are crucial for your baby’s growth. Choose 3-4 servings per day. One serving equals 2-3 ounces of lean meat, poultry or fish, or one egg. If you are a vegetarian, be sure to eat eggs, tofu and other soy products, dried beans and nuts, as well as a wide variety of grains every day.

Milk and milk products (including calcium-fortified soy milk) help build your baby’s bones and teeth. Choose 3-4 servings a day of low-fat milk, yogurt or cheese. A serving is one cup of milk or yogurt or two 1-inch cubes of cheese. If you have trouble digesting lactose (the natural sugar found in milk), lactose-reduced milk products and calcium-fortified orange juice can help you get enough calcium.

Limit the amount of fat that you eat to no more than 30 percent of your daily calories. You should use high-fat foods (such as butter, sour cream, salad dressings and gravies) sparingly. Also, try to limit sweets. You don’t have to eliminate them but, when possible, make healthier choices.

Fluids You also need to drink plenty of healthy fluids-6 to 8 cups a day. While water is best, you do get some water from juice. But keep in mind that juice is high in calories, while water has none. Avoid or limit caffeine-containing beverages such as coffee, tea and colas.

Sizing Up Your Portions

The recommended servings on the food guide pyramid may sound like a lot of food, especially the 6-11 grain servings. However, serving sizes are often less than you normally eat.

Crucial Vitamins and Minerals

Eat foods that include folic acid like orange juice, leafy green vegetables and fortified breakfast cereals. When taken before pregnancy and in the early weeks of pregnancy, adequate amounts of folic acid may help reduce the risk of birth defects of the brain and spinal cord.

Most health care providers recommend that pregnant women take a prenatal multivitamin containing the recommended amounts of vitamins, including folic acid. Your prenatal vitamin is crucial throughout pregnancy to support the growth of the baby, so be sure you take it every day. Your need for iron doubles during pregnancy, and you may not be able to get enough from your diet. Some pregnant women need to take a 30-milligram iron supplement during their second and third trimesters to help prevent anemia. Your health care provider will recommend one if you need it. Your provider also may recommend a calcium supplement if you are unable to consume dairy products. Never take a supplement that contains more than the Daily Value (DV) of vitamins and minerals without talking to your health care provider, because large doses of certain vitamins (such as vitamin A) may harm your baby.

Dangerous Cravings

Nearly all pregnant women have cravings during pregnancy. The most common cravings are for sweets and dairy products. But some women crave nonfood items such as clay, cornstarch, laundry starch, dry milk of magnesia, paraffin, coffee grounds or ice. This kind of nonfood craving is called “pica.” Pica can cause serious problems for pregnant women and their babies. These problems include severe constipation, blocked bowels and nutritional deficiencies. If you have cravings for any nonfood substances, tell your health care provider.

Some women believe that pica is normal, or are encouraged to eat substances like clay by well-meaning friends and family members. Other women believe that, if they eat clay or cornstarch, their baby will have a light complexion or they will have an easy birth. Some people believe that chewing clay or starch relieves tension. Unfortunately, none of this is true-it’s better to take a walk or talk with a friend to relieve tension.

Say No to Alcohol

If you drink alcohol, your baby does, too. Even small amounts of alcohol can harm your unborn baby-there is no “safe” level of alcohol consumption when you’re pregnant. Women who drink heavily during pregnancy can have a baby with a group of birth defects called fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS). FAS is the leading preventable cause of mental retardation. Many more babies whose mothers drink lightly or moderately are born with lesser degrees of alcohol-related problems. If you drink during pregnancy, you also increase your risk of having a miscarriage or a stillborn baby.

Food Safety

Not all foods are safe for pregnant women. Some contain high levels of chemicals that can affect your baby’s development. Others put you at risk for getting an infection that can hurt your baby.

Use common sense when preparing and selecting foods. Avoid the following:

Swordfish, shark, king mackerel and tile fish. These fish can contain potentially risky levels of mercury. Mercury can be transferred to the growing fetus and cause serious health problems. An expert panel of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has advised pregnant women to eat no more than 12 ounces of canned tuna per week. Also avoid eating any game fish without first checking its safety with your local health department. Raw fish, especially shellfish (oysters, clams)

Undercooked meat, poultry, seafood and hot dogs. Cook all meat, poultry and seafood thoroughly to kill bacteria. Cook hot dogs until they are steaming hot. Deli meats (such as ham, salami, and bologna) are an occasional cause of food poisoning; pregnant women may choose to avoid them or reheat them before eating.

Soft-scrambled eggs and all foods made with raw or lightly cooked eggs

Soft cheeses such as Brie, feta, Camembert, Roquefort and Mexican-style

Unpasteurized milk and any foods made from it

Unpasteurized juices

Raw sprouts, especially alfalfa sprouts

Herbal supplements and teas

Some studies indicate that your baby may be at increased risk of developing a food allergy in later life if you, your partner or a family member has a food allergy. You may wish to consult a food allergy specialist for help in planning your diet during pregnancy and breastfeeding.

Weight Gain

Here are the recommended weight gain guidelines for pregnant women:

If you are normal weight prior to pregnancy: Gain 25 to 35 pounds during pregnancy.

If you are overweight prior to pregnancy: Gain 15 to 25 pounds during pregnancy.

If you are underweight prior to pregnancy: Gain 28 to 40 pounds during pregnancy (depending on your pre-pregnancy weight).

If you have a multiple pregnancy (twins, triplets or more): See your health care provider. You will need to gain more weight during pregnancy depending on the number of babies you are carrying.

Gaining the right amount of weight will make it easier to shed pounds after delivery and will prepare your body for breastfeeding.

See your health care provider if you are concerned about your weight. She or he can help you determine the weight gain that is right for you.

If you are already pregnant and are overweight, do not try to diet.

If you need help planning a healthy diet that will help you gain the proper amount of weight, ask about seeing a dietitian or nutritionist.

Exercise

Unless there are medical reasons to avoid it, pregnant women can and should exercise moderately for at least 30 minutes on most, if not all, days. Exercise helps women feel better. The calories burned help prevent too much weight gain. Exercise can help pregnant women avoid gestational diabetes, a form of diabetes that sometimes develops during pregnancy. It can help build the stamina needed for labor and delivery. Exercise enhances well-being and promotes early recovery after labor and delivery. Important: Before doing any exercise, check with your health care provider.

Consider brisk walking, dancing, swimming, biking, or aerobics.

Avoid activities that put you at high risk for injury, such as horseback riding or downhill skiing. Avoid sports in which you could get hit in the abdomen. Especially after the third month, avoid exercises that require you to lie flat on your back. Never scuba dive because it can cause dangerous gas bubbles in the baby’s circulatory system. Source:

Caffeine

Research suggests that:

Low to moderate caffeine consumption probably does not affect your fertility or increase your risk of miscarriage or preterm labor.

Moderate caffeine consumption is probably okay during pregnancy. (“Moderate” means less than 300 mg of caffeine per day, or about the amount in 2 to 2-1/2 standard 8-ounce cups of coffee. Remember, the stronger the coffee, the more caffeine it contains. There is also caffeine in chocolate, tea, cola, some carbonated beverages other than cola, coffee ice cream and some non-prescription medications.)

Limit the amount of caffeine you consume to no more than two cups of coffee per day. It’s better for your body and your baby if you drink water, milk and fruit juice during your pregnancy. You can drink decaffeinated colas, coffee and tea, too.