Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : January 12th 2014 Contents | HEALTH |
BECOMING A MOTHER can be one of the most exciting
times of a woman's life; however it can also be one of the most
stressful. Pregnancy is a time of great change. You may expe-
rience many physical and emotional changes which can be
confusing and distressing. It can also be a challenging time for
your partner. Your partner may be uncertain about how to help
during pregnancy, be concerned about financial matters and
how your pregnancy may affect your relationship.
By knowing what to expect, what to do and what NOT to do,
a couple can feel more empowered to make healthy choices
during their pregnancy. Below are some common questions
that patients have about pregnancy.
How will I know if I am pregnant?
The symptoms of pregnancy vary from woman to woman
and even from one pregnancy to the next.
• The most common indicator that you may be pregnant is
that you miss your period. Some women can bleed while
they are pregnant, but typically the bleeding will be shorter
or lighter than a normal period.
• Your breasts may be tender to touch, sore or swollen. You
may also notice that you feel more tired than usual.
• Nausea (feeling upset) and vomiting may start 2 to 8 weeks
after becoming pregnant.
• Passing urine more often than usual is also a common
symptom of pregnancy.
• If you think you are pregnant the first step is to do a home
urine pregnancy test. Most pregnancy tests cannot detect
pregnancy until one week after your missed period so if you
do one earlier than this and get a negative result, you should
repeat it a few days later.
• If you are pregnant or are unsure about the result you
should visit your doctor. A blood test can also be done to
determine if you are pregnant.
What can I do to avoid/help "morning sickness"?
Although commonly referred to as "morning sickness", the
nausea and vomiting of pregnancy can occur at any time of
the day- not just the morning. There are several lifestyle and
dietary changes that can help.
• As soon as you wake on mornings, have a few crackers and
then rest for about 15 minutes before getting out of bed.
• Eat small frequent meals instead of 3 large meals for the
day. Avoid spicy, fatty and fried foods. It is best to stick to
foods which are high in carbohydrates such as bread and
• The age old remedy of ginger tea has actually been proven
to help decrease the nausea and vomiting of pregnancy. Gin-
ger cookies and crackers may be just as effective.
• If you are vomiting it is important to stay hydrated. Try to
drink small amounts of fluids often. Water and coconut
water are good. Try to avoid highly carbonated (bubbly)
drinks, sugary drinks and milk.
• If you cannot tolerate fluids, or vomit blood you should see
your doctor as soon as possible. There are a number of med-
ications that can be used that are safe to both you and your
What Vitamins should I be on?
• If you are planning to become pregnant or as soon as you
know that you are pregnant you should start using Folic
acid. Folic acid is a Vitamin which helps decrease the risk of
the baby developing a defect in the spinal cord. Folic acid
supplements may also decrease the risk of cleft lip and
palate and heart defects in the baby. For healthy patients it
is recommended that you have 400mcg of Folic acid every
day for the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. Some patients may
need higher doses and prolonged use depending on their
• You will have blood tests in pregnancy that will determine
if you need any additional vitamins. There are many preg-
nancy multivitamins available on the market. Your doctor
may recommend one after the first trimester. Some of
them may cause nausea, vomiting or constipation. When
you are taking these Vitamins it is best to take it with water
or juice to aid in the absorption of iron from the Vitamin.
Avoid taking it with milk.
• Do not use your normal multivitamin throughout the preg-
nancy as they may contain levels of Vitamins that can be
harmful to the developing baby.
• Do not use cod liver oil supplements during your pregnancy,
although they contain omega 3 fatty acids they may also
contain levels of Vitamin A that are harmful to the baby.
What foods should I avoid in pregnancy?
There are lots of misconceptions about what foods can affect
the baby. The table below shows which foods should be
avoided and the rationale.
• One of the biggest misconceptions about eating and preg-
nancy is that the pregnant patient has to "eat for two", this
often results in patients overeating and eating unhealthily
resulting in too much weight gain during the pregnancy.
Many patients are happy to know that eating pepper does
not affect the baby in any way.
Is it safe to use a seatbelt during pregnancy?
Many patients request a doctors letter to exempt them from
wearing seatbelts during the pregnancy because of the mis-
conception that wearing seatbelts in the pregnancy may be
dangerous. I always advise them that what is dangerous is
NOT wearing your seatbelts. Research has consistently
shown that the best way to protect your growing baby is to
protect yourself. The seatbelt must be properly positioned
with the lap belt secured below the bump, low and snug on
the hip bones. Never wear the belt across or above your belly.
The shoulder belt should fit snugly between the breasts. If you
are involved in any kind of vehicular accident you should seek
medical attention as soon as possible- even if you feel fine, to
ensure that all is well with both you and baby.
Dr. Reiaz Mohammed is a Specialist Obstetrician and Gy-
necologist at Gulf View Medical Centre.
By Dr. Reiaz Mohammed, MB.BS (UWI), MRCOG (UK)
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