You have allergies. Or migraines. Perhaps you suffer from an underactive thyroid, or high blood pressure. Or you are suffering from generalized aches and pains during pregnancy. Now that you are pregnant, you may be wondering what medications are safe to take during pregnancy.
The most important thing to know is that you should take as little medication as possible! Obviously, if you have any existing health problems that you take medication for on a daily basis, it is important to talk to your healthcare provider. Sometimes, they will change the medication you are on or the dosage, advise you to stop taking it or give you the green-light to continue treatment and just monitor your condition.
When it comes to over-the-counter medications, it ALWAYS important to check with a pharmacist, or your doctor before taking anything. Generally speaking however there are certain medications deemed low risk for pregnant women.
For stomach upset, medications such as Tums, Mylanta and Maalox are considered safe. Just don’t use over the recommended dosing, and consider that stomach upset and heartburn is often just part of pregnancy. Avoid indigestions medications containing salicylates, such as Pepto Bismol.
If you have a cold, the following medications are considered safe to use:
Guaifenesin, an expectorant (Hytuss, Mucinex, Naldecon Senior EX, Robitussin)
Dextromethorphan, a cough suppressant (Benylin Adult, Robitussin Maximum Strength Cough, Scot-Tussin DM, Vicks 44 Cough Relief)
Guaifenesin plus dextromethorphan (Benylin Expectorant, Robitussin DM, Vicks 44E)
Again, before buying a non-name brand, check with a pharmacist on duty and ALWAYS read the ingredients before taking any cold medications. You should avoid any medicines that contain alcohol at any time, and should start with lowest recommended dose when taking medicine.
For generalized aches and pains or headaches – the only medication you should take is acetaminophen (Paracetamol). It is important to avoid any medications that include aspirin or aspirin derivatives.
If you have other problems such as constipation, yeast infections, insomnia, the flu, or a bacterial or viral infection, you should visit your doctor before purchasing any medications over the counter.
It is also VERY important to steer clear of herbal remedies and herbal blends while pregnant. There are many herbal blends that contain certain herbs which can compromise your pregnancy, or even cause you to miscarry. So use caution when using homeopathic remedies and avoid anything that includes Cohosh.
Most women will experience at least one pregnancy craving, although some may experience more. A food craving is a sudden desire to eat a certain food. During pregnancy, these could be unusual food combinations (such as salty crisps dipped in chocolate, or pickle and ice cream), or more normal foods.
Pregnancy cravings can happen at any point, but are most common during the first trimester. Many women find that they experience food aversions alongside morning sickness. Some women don’t experience any pregnancy cravings, and that’s normal too.
What causes pregnancy cravings?
The cause of pregnancy cravings remain a mystery, but experts have made some educated guesses. Some believe that the hormonal changes during pregnancy can impact upon taste and smell. This could explain the food aversions and cravings associated with pregnancy.
What do pregnancy cravings mean?
Some experts believe that pregnancy cravings can be attributed to the nutritional needs of the body during specific times of the pregnancy. Some food cravings can be a warning sign of an underlying problems. For example, craving non-food substances such as petrol (gasoline), paint chips and soil, could be a symptom of iron deficiency. Currently, not enough research has been done in this area to determine the causes of pregnancy cravings.
Are pregnancy cravings important?
If you’re a dad-to-be reading this in the supermarket on a 3am emergency trip to get mint chocolate soy ice cream, yes. But in reality, it is not known whether pregnancy cravings are important. Experts advise you to listen to your healthy cravings – if you crave a huge bowl of fruit salad every day, go for it. If your cravings are less than wholesome, however, they advise creating alternatives for the foods you want. It would be difficult to justify eating a whole tub of high-fat neapolitan ice cream every evening, but perhaps you could switch it for a homemade milkshake made with fresh strawberries?
Popular pregnancy cravings
There are a number of foods that seem to be a hit with most pregnant women, for example:
ice cubes/ice lollies – a lot of women report craving ice lollies, icy cold drinks or crunching on ice cubes during pregnancy. This could be related to the raised body temperature of pregnant women, or the necessary increased water intake.
sweet foods – chocolate, ice cream, biscuits and cake are popular cravings amongst pregnant women. This craving for sweet food could be met by eating a variety of sweet fruits. Try adding more fruit to your diet to see if that reduces your craving for high-fat sugary foods. Craving sugary foods could also be caused by a drop in blood sugar, you can avoid this by eating small, frequent meals throughout the day.
salty foods – some women report craving salty foods such as crisps, chips and other savoury snacks. It’s ok to give into your cravings every so often, however you should be wary of the amount of sodium in your diet. You can use smartphone apps to record your food intake, and these will calculate your daily salt intake.
spicy foods – mexican and indian cuisines are both popular food cravings amongst pregnant women. Some women find that their tolerance to spicy food increases during pregnancy, so where they may previously have ordered kormas, they find themselves eating vindaloos. The amniotic fluid in your uterus changes flavour depending on what you’ve eaten, so your baby will be enjoying new tastes as you tuck into your madras.
citrus fruits – some women report craving the sour tastes of citrus fruits during pregnancy. From drinking lemon water, to eating whole limes, some women can’t get enough of sour flavours.
If you are craving non-food items such as mud, plaster or bath sponge, contact your healthcare provider. This can be a symptom of an underlying condition.
Are you experiencing any weird cravings during pregnancy?
Written by Fiona, proud owner of a toddler, @fiona_peacock
Between the afternoon naps, the breakfast throw ups and the tender breasts, you may not be feeling your best right now. You may find that your reduced energy levels mean you can just about make it through the day, before collapsing on the sofa unable to move again for a good 12 hours.
While your body is busy nurturing and nourishing your unborn child, you need to make sure you’re taking the same care of your other relationships, including with your partner. Pregnancy can put a huge amount of strain on a relationship. Financial worries, mood swings, insecurities over being good parents, and an ever growing to do list, can leave you both feeling a little frayed around the edges. So how do you make sure you take care of each other, and your relationship, during pregnancy?
1. Make time for each other – yes there is lots to do and a bump-shaped ticking time bomb waiting to go off, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have date night. Make the most of your last months alone – go to the cinema, eat out and enjoy spending time together (without having to fork out on a babysitter).
2. Talk about other things – it’s only natural that the pregnancy is taking up all of your thoughts, but do try to talk about other things too. If you just talk about the baby, it’s easy to forget you are a couple – it’s easy to fall into the parent trap.
3. Take a babymoon – this will be your last chance to go away hassle free. No worrying about travel cots, babysitters or nap schedules. You can disappear, just the two of you, and spend some quality time together.
4. Be intimate – depending on your hormones, you may feel erotically charged or absolutely turned off. If you’re feeling turned off, it doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy each other. While you may not want your sore breasts touched, or you may not feel in the mood for penetrative sex, there may be other ways you can be intimate. Even if it’s just snuggling on the sofa, intimacy and physical contact are important for a healthy relationship.
5. Tell him he’s important – it can be easy to put all of your focus on the baby, and your partner may end up feeling a little left out. Everyone will be focusing on you and how you’re feeling, you will be focusing on the baby and the pregnancy, and it might feel like no-one is looking after the dad-to-be. Make sure you look after him, and let him know how much he means to you. Tell him how much you’re looking forward to seeing him as a father, and why you know he’ll be great at it.
Do you have any tips for keeping the romance alive during pregnancy?
Written by Fiona, proud owner of a toddler, @fiona_peacock
Lots of strange things happen to you while you’re pregnant. Aside from the obvious Invasion of the Body Snatchers changes, you might also feel confused or forgetful. You may find yourself making mistakes that are out of character. Or find yourself mid-sentence unable to remember what you were saying. You may have forgotten words, and not in that on-the-tip-of-my-tongue sense, more in a gone-forever kind of way.
Between 50 and 80% of pregnant women report experiencing some degree of memory problems. Other reported symptoms include anxiety, stress, poor concentration and clumsiness.
What causes baby brain?
Baby brain is a relatively unknown phenomenon and very little research has been done to establish the causes or even existence of baby brain. Some assume that it is linked to the hormonal changes in the body during pregnancy. Progesterone and estrogen are both linked to memory, so it is thought the elevated levels of these hormones plays a part in this condition.
Most baby brain sufferers report symptoms in the final trimester, so it could be down to the distracting nature of impending motherhood. You may feel worried or anxious about the birth and caring for your baby, and these feelings may cause you to be less focussed on other areas of your life. Add to this the common sleep problems in the third trimester, and it’s no wonder you’re starting to feel a little frayed around the edges!
What can I do about it?
Unfortunately, there isn’t a quick fix for ‘baby brain’. Make sure you get plenty of rest, stay hydrated, eat a healthy diet and try to relax. Stress can make forgetfulness worse, so try to stay on top of your stress levels. Make sure you spend time each day relaxing.
You can also try to implement changes in your daily routine that may help you to combat the consequences of baby brain. If you are prone to misplacing your keys, designate a key hook or bowl in your home and make sure you always put the keys there. This will make your life easier, and save you lots of unnecessary running around.
If you have started to forget to do things at work or home, you should start keeping a to do list. Once you are used to referring back to it regularly, it will become second nature. You won’t be waking up panic stricken at 3am with the gloomy realisation that you’ve forgotten to write the presentation for the board meeting in six hours. You really don’t need wake up calls like that when you’re pregnant.
Be honest with people about your forgetfulness, and explain that it is a symptom associated with pregnancy. Don’t waste time feeling embarrassed or upset about the forgetfulness, just explain it and move on. People may be willing to offer you extra support in the meantime.
When will it end?
Although you may like to believe that as soon as the baby pops out, your baby brain will be instantly cured, unfortunately this isn’t the case. In fact, many women report suffering from “mummy brain” after the birth. The difference is that instead of being occupied by the impending birth and motherhood, you will now be preoccupied by your baby. The sleepless nights and distracted attention will probably plague you for an extra few months at least, sorry.
Written by Fiona, proud owner of a toddler, @fiona_peacock
Fibroids, also known as uterine myomas or fibromyomas, are tumours that grow in and around the uterus. They are non-cancerous, and very few develop into cancer. Fibroids are made of the same tissue as the uterine wall.
Around 40% of women will experience fibroids. You are most at risk of developing this condition if you are:
aged between 30 and 50
of African-Caribbean origin
The most commonly diagnosed type of fibroid is the intramural fibroid, these develop in the muscle wall of the uterus. Fibroids can also grow from the outside wall of the uterus, on the wall of the cervix, and beneath the inner lining of the womb wall.
Symptoms of uterine fibroids:
heavy or painful periods
pain during sex
Only a third of women with fibroids will experience symptoms. For most, fibroids are asymptomatic.
How are uterine fibroids diagnosed?
If your healthcare provider suspects you have fibroids, you may be offered the following diagnostic tests:
an ultrasound scan
a transvaginal ultrasound scan
a hysteroscope – in this examination, a small telescope is used to see inside the uterus
a laparoscopy – in this examination, a small tube is inserted into the uterus. This is usually inserted via the belly button. A light and camera on the end of the tube transmit pictures to a monitor screen for examination.
a biopsy – a biopsy may be taken to be sent off for further examination.
Uterine fibroids during pregnancy
Most women go on to have a healthy pregnancy and normal delivery. However, in some cases, fibroids may cause complications. Possible complications include:
bleeding in early pregnancy
low fetal birth weight
red degeneration – this is most likely to occur during the second trimester. A haemorrhage occurs in the fibroid, causing the fibroid to die and turn red. This can be very painful.
Treatment for fibroids during pregnancy
Most women do not require treatment for fibroids. Most fibroids will clear up over time without treatment. However, for more severe cases, medication, surgery and MRI treatments are all possible treatment options. Your healthcare provider will be best able to advise you on the suitable treatment options for your condition.
If you are experiencing pain during the pregnancy, you may be put on bed rest. Anti-inflammatory drugs may be advised to reduce any pain.
Will fibroids affect the birth?
Most women with fibroids are able to have a normal delivery. However, if you have fibroids in your cervical wall, or developing in the lower half of your uterus, you may be advised to have a caesarean section. This is because the birth canal can become blocked by fibroids, making labour more difficult. Speak to your healthcare provider if you are worried your fibroids may affect the birth.
Written by Fiona, proud owner of a toddler, @fiona_peacock
Pregnancy is a time to celebrate family. Yet many women today find themselves single and pregnant. Sometimes by choice, and other times by their partners inability to accept responsibility. In fact, according to statistics, being single and pregnant is no longer a ‘condition’ afflicting only teenagers and there are thousands of woman making the empowered decision to go through pregnancy alone. The US Census reports that 1/3rd of the 6 million pregnant women over the age of 22 are single.
See – you ARE NOT alone.
Still, in a world that offers so much information for pregnant woman and ‘their husbands’ it can be hard to feel like your relationship status allows you to have a socially ‘accepted’ pregnancy when you go it alone. However, the good news is that the times are changing. Women today are making empowered and smart choices about whether or not partnering with the father of their child is a good idea, and often realize that going it alone is a better option in the long run. Even better is that women who proceed with their pregnancies solo are able to find wonderful support systems from friends and family. Disappearing are the days of shot gun weddings and scarlet letters.
If you are single and pregnant (whether by choice or otherwise) you owe it to yourself to take the time to enjoy your pregnancy and feel happy about the new little baby that will be entering your life. There may be times when you wish you had the support of loving father figure to help you with your pregnancy, but this is not a time to dwell on what could have been.
You should also take time to look into resources both local and otherwise, that can help you financially and emotionally. There are many support groups for single mothers that can not only connect you with other single pregnant mothers, but can also help you make smart choices when it comes to future planning for you and your baby. The support system of other women who are facing the same challenges of you can be a lifesaver and you may find lifelong friends.
Of course, you will be worried about how you will take care of your baby. Keep in mind that there are millions of single mothers in the world today who support their children just fine. And you might be surprised how supportive friends and family members can be when it comes to planning for childcare. If the father of your baby refuses to be involved, you also have the option of collecting child support after the baby is born.
The most important thing to remember is that you are a powerful and capable person. The judgments and thoughts of other people are none of your business, and you should never feel ashamed nor embarrassed that you are single and pregnant. One of the most important aspects of raising a happy and healthy child is the presence of a happy and emotionally healthy mother. Certainly, it can be hard to forgive someone that you feel abandoned you – but learning to do so will only make your pregnancy, and your life after delivery more enjoyable and fulfilling. Remember the only actions that you can control are your own – and you are NOT responsible for the choices made by other people.
In so many ways, it is empowering that women today have a choice to have babies on their own. Rather than remaining stuck with irresponsible partners, or in abusive relationships or with people that they don’t really love or who would not be a good parent – women today are afforded the resources and RESPECT to do it alone. Hold your head high, and have faith that whatever challenges come your way will not be more than you can handle.
Immediately after the birth, once the umbilical cord has been cut and clamped, it is possible to collect any blood left in the umbilical cord. This cord blood can be stored for future use. Cord blood is rich in stem cells, which can be used to treat a number of diseases, and repair tissues and organs.
Stem cells have so far been used to successfully treat over 70 different diseases. Research is ongoing, and lots of money is being spent on figuring out new treatments using these cells. Stem cells have so far been used to treat leukaemia, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and rare metabolic disorders in babies.
Collecting the blood
Cord blood collection is a safe and painless procedure for both you and your baby. After the birth, once your baby’s umbilical cord has been cut and clamped, the blood can be collected. The blood is collected from the part of the umbilical cord still attached to the placenta, not from the bit attached to your baby. A needle is inserted into the umbilical cord (not the bit attached to your baby, remember). The procedure takes 10 minutes, and up to five ounces of blood will be collected.
Donating the blood
Cord blood can be donated to a public cord blood bank. The blood will then be stored until it is needed. Cord blood can be stored for up to 20 years. Lots of people rely on donated cord blood for treatment. As many as 70% of those in need do not have a family match, meaning they need to find a match in a public cord blood bank.
Donated cord blood can be sent across the world to help a patient in need. Though the banks are far from empty, more cord blood is always needed.
How to donate
If you don’t consent to cord blood donation, any blood left in the umbilical cord will simply be disposed of along with the placenta after the birth. If you would like to donate cord blood, you will need to consent before the birth. The cord blood will be collected by a specialist, someone who is not involved in delivering your baby, so this will need to be arranged in advance.
Not all hospitals are able to collect cord blood, so you will need to check whether your hospital is able to. Speak to your healthcare provider for more information about banking cord blood.
Are you considering donating cord blood?
Written by Fiona, proud owner of a toddler, @fiona_peacock
At each prenatal visit, your healthcare provider will ask you to produce a urine sample. Your healthcare provider will perform a dipstick test on the sample, to check certain substances in your urine. This is a screening test which means it doesn’t diagnose a condition, but indicates if closer monitoring is warranted.
The dipstick test
Your healthcare provider will take your urine sample, and insert a specially treated chemical strip (a dipstick) into the sample. Patches on the dipstick will change colour to reveal the presence of protein. The dipstick test also reveals glucose levels, these are used to screen for gestational diabetes.
It is generally nothing to worry about if the test detects trace levels of protein in your urine, unless you are showing other symptoms of an associated condition. Your protein output changes throughout the day, and can be affected by diet and fluid intake.
Causes of excess protein in urine
The dipstick test shows how much protein is present in your urine, and this is classified from + (low) to ++++ (high). A high grading especially in later pregnancy can indicate pre-eclampsia, a serious condition that requires close monitoring. An underlying problem such as kidney damage may also cause a high protein output in pregnant women. A low grading is usually indicative of a urinary tract infection.
If a urinary tract infection is suspected, your healthcare provider will send your urine to the lab for more precise testing. One urine sample may suffice, or you may be asked to collect all urine output over a 24 hour period. At the lab, your sample will be tested for bacteria and then antibiotics will be recommended. If you are showing other symptoms of a urinary tract infection, your healthcare provider may prescribe antibiotics before the lab results are back.
Is it pre-eclampsia?
In a lot of cases, the cause of protein in urine during pregnancy will not be pre-eclampsia. However, because of the severity of this condition, it is important you know how to recognise the signs.
You should contact your healthcare provider if you notice any of the following symptoms:
high blood pressure
protein in your urine
vision problems (blurred vision or flashing lights)
sudden swelling of the hands, face and feet
pain in the upper abdomen
feeling generally unwell
Written by Fiona, proud owner of a toddler, @fiona_peacock
Suddenly, it hits you! You look at the calendar and realize that your due date is just days away. All this time, you have been dreaming about the day you get to meet your baby. You have been counting down the days, and decorating the nursery and buying cute baby clothes. Now that the time is close you become strangled with a paralyzing fear and realize that you are scared to give birth.
This is perhaps one of the most common fears of first time moms. And second, third and fourth time moms. There is so much mystery revolving around the birthing process that you never quite know what to expect. Plus, there are so many thoughts of the things that can go wrong swirling around in your head that anxiety is completely expected. Making matters worse, is that you may not know what to expect – especially if your only information comes from other moms and pregnancy books.
You may be worried about whether it will hurt, if your water will break while you are in the middle of the store, or worse – stuck in traffic, or if your baby is going to be healthy. You may be afraid of pooping on the doctor, or not having your partner make it to the hospital in time. What if you can’t give birth? The list of fears and worries is potentially endless. But here’s the thing.
Women have been giving birth since the beginning of time. No matter how afraid you are, YOU CAN DO THIS. Whatever pain comes your way, will be forgotten almost immediately once you see your baby. Hospitals and birthing assistants today are literally prepared for everything, and your chances of everything going perfectly right – are much higher than they are that anything will go wrong.
Plus, your female body was perfectly designed to give birth. Take a look at how far you have come, and try to relax as much as possible. It’s perfectly normal to be nervous and anxious about giving birth, but the reality is that at this point you don’t really have a choice. Allow nature to take its course, and do your best to not complicate things by psyching yourself out. If you go into labor and delivery with a calm head, and a lot of faith that all will be well – you will have a much better labor and delivery experience.
There is no shame in being scared to give birth. More than likely, every woman nearing the electronic doors of the birthing center experiences moments where they don’t want to go in, terrified about what lies ahead in the hours before they meet their baby. (I was one of those women who sat in the car in the parking lot of the hospital with my husband for 30 minutes after my water broke refusing to admit myself out of sheer terror) And yet, when you leave the hospital with a bundled up newborn in their arms, you will feel nothing but love – and the stress and anxiety will be completely forgotten.
Also, before you give in to the fears of giving birth, consider that if labor and delivery were so bad, there would be very few women in this world who would choose to do it again and again. And yet millions of woman choose to give birth multiple times in their life. Embrace the experience as much as possible as it is one you will never get to relive.
For most women who did not use fertility treatments, the news that they are having twins can be quite shocking, to say the least. Here you were expecting one bundle of joy – and just like that, you found out you are being blessed with two. (Or more!)
Most of the time, the amazing discovery of a twin pregnancy doesn’t occur until a woman has her first routine ultrasound. Or, until an attentive health care provider notices that either her hCG levels (through serum blood tests) are through the roof, or the height of her ‘fundus’ (the measurement of your uterus as you progress through pregnancy) is increasing more quickly than it should. Or maybe the provider thinks they may hear more than one heartbeat at the 9 week to 11 week office visit, and quickly orders an early ultrasound.
According to recent statistics from the American College of Obstetricians & Gynecologists, around 3 out of every 100 women will carry twins. Also, just because YOU are a twin, or your dad is a twin, doesn’t necessarily mean that you will have twins yourself. For instance, your chances of having identical twins (when a fertilized egg spontaneously splits in half) have nothing to do with genetics and is the ‘luck of the draw’, so to speak. However, your chances of fraternal twins (when two eggs are fertilized by different sperm at the same time) ARE often part of your genetics. If someone in your family has fraternal twins, then you have an increased chance of having fraternal twins yourself. You also have an increased chance of having fraternal twins if you have undergone fertility treatments, are over the age of 30 (because older women often tend to release more than one egg during ovulation), are African-American, or have had a multiple pregnancy in the past.
If you suspect twins early on – chances are you want to know as quickly as possible! Many women have an inkling that they are carrying twins from the beginning. In particular, many women pregnant with twins have more severe pregnancy symptoms in early pregnancy due to higher hormone levels. You also may measure larger than expected, or be gaining more weight than typical for your due date. All of these things can prompt your health care provider to schedule an early ultrasound.
Specifically speaking however – a twin pregnancy can only be accurately detected with an ultrasound. And amazingly, an ultrasound can pick up a twin pregnancy by the existence of two fetal sacs as early as the 4th week of pregnancy. Even so, many doctors will choose to wait to affirmatively diagnose a twin pregnancy until the 10-week or 12-week mark, due to the commonality of ‘vanishing twin syndrome,’ which is thought to occur when one of fetuses is not viable and is reabsorbed by the placenta during pregnancy – most often without the pregnant mother’s knowledge (and without harming the other baby).
Having twins can be a wonderful experience. Your maternal instinct may lead you to believe you are having twins just by the way you feel, and you may try to encourage your doctor to test you. However, the longer you wait for a diagnostic ultrasound to confirm that you are carrying more than one viable baby, the better off you will be in the long run.