Pregnancy FAQs

Pregnancy / Obstetrics

When do I get to hear the heartbeat of my baby for the first time?

This is normally 12 weeks into your pregnancy.

When can I expect to feel the baby move?

You can expect to begin to feel the baby move at about 20 to 22 weeks of pregnancy. You may not feel daily regular movements until 28 weeks of pregnancy.

Is it normal for a pregnant woman to have vaginal spotting or bleeding after my vaginal exam (during the later part of the third trimester) or after intercourse?

Yes, it is common to have spotting or bleeding in these situations as a result of cervical softening that is a normal part of pregnancy. The cervix must soften before dilation can occur. The spotting should resolve in about 24 hours. Call your doctor if you experience heavy bleeding (like a period) or prolonged bleeding (longer than 48 hours).

I have asthma (or allergies). Can I continue my regular medications while pregnant?

Yes. You need to be healthy for the baby to be healthy. Use of inhalers such as Ventolin, Asmacort, Proventil, or Flonase will help to keep the breathing passages open. If you are on an antihistamine, Claritin, Chlor-Trimeton, Benadryl, Dimetapp, Zyrtec and Tavist are the safest antihistamines to take during your pregnancy.

You say I am 20 weeks pregnant. How many months is that?

Obstetricians have standardized timing a pregnancy to 40 weeks so that it is easier to communicate and determine due dates as well as testing. The first day of your last menstrual period is used to calculate your due date. 20 weeks is exactly half way through your pregnancy or about 4 1/2 months along.

My dentist needs to take X-rays. Is this okay?

You should continue to care for your teeth in the normal manner. If X-rays are necessary, your dentist will shield the baby. Filling cavities or taking antibiotics, if prescribed by your dentist, is safe and desirable as pregnancy can increase dental disease. Ampicillin is the most common antibiotic and is safe during pregnancy.

My feet are swollen, is this normal?

Mild swelling of the ankles and legs is related to the normal and necessary increase in body fluids during pregnancy. To ease the discomfort, elevate your legs or lie down when you can, wear comfortable shoes, and avoid elastic-top socks or stockings. Drinking at least 8 to 10 eight ounce glasses of water a day will help to avoid excess water retention. Support hose may also help to ease the discomfort.

What can I do for headaches?

Tylenol is safe to take for a headache, fever or any general discomfort. Follow the recommended dosage on the bottle.

What can I take for a cold?

Sudafed or Actifed is safe to take for decongestant. Robitussin is safe to take for a cough. Tylenol is safe to take for a fever, aches, and pains. Sore throat lozenges are safe to take for a sore throat.

Should I get the flu shot?

It is highly recommended if you are pregnant or having your baby during the flu season that you get the flu shot.

What do I do if I have been exposed to Chicken Pox?

There is no danger to your baby if you have had the chicken pox. If you are not sure, a blood test can be done to determine if you are immune. If you are not immune, please call your physician.

What do I do if I have been exposed to Fifth’s disease?

It is likely that you have had the disease as a child and are, therefore, immune. If you are not sure, a blood test can be done to determine if you are immune. It is not likely that you will contract the disease with casual contact. Good hand washing and hygiene are important to prevent infection. Please call your physician if you have been exposed.

May I fly in an airplane?

Please discuss with your doctor if you plan to travel during the third trimester. You should never fly in an airplane after your 35th week of pregnancy. When traveling, it is important to drink plenty of water and to get up and walk about the cabin of the plane every hour. Please check with your insurance company to make sure you are covered outside the Louisville area should an emergency arise.

Can I sleep on my back?

You may sleep on your back until the third trimester as long as you are comfortable. At that time, if your uterus compresses your major blood vessels, you may become nauseated or dizzy. Placing a pillow under one hip should prevent these symptoms.

What can I do if I am constipated?

Increase oral fluids, dietary fiber (fresh fruits and vegetables), and exercise (walking). You may try Citrucel, Metamucil, or Fibercon. Coffee and herbal teas can also have a laxative effect and alleviate constipation. In an emergency, Dulcolax suppositories or Fleet’s enema may be used.

Is it normal to have aches and pains in the pelvis?

Early in pregnancy, it is normal to feel cramping as the uterus grows and discomfort as the ligaments stretch. During the second trimester, it is normal to feel pains in the pelvis as the uterus grows, your skin stretches, and the baby moves around. During the third trimester, it is common to have a backache and sciatica. Sciatica causes shooting pains down the back of the leg and buttocks. Toward the end of the third trimester, ligaments in the hips and pelvis loosen, causing discomfort. The baby may kick nerves on the inside of the uterus causing shooting pains toward your upper abdomen or vagina. Areas of numbness may also occur on your abdomen. If you are concerned about preterm labor, please call your physician.

Is it okay to have my hair colored, highlighted, or permed? What about artificial nails?

There is no information that any of these procedures will hurt your baby. Please weigh any benefits against any unknown potential risks.

Will it hurt the baby if I don’t take my prenatal vitamins?

Taking prenatal vitamins with folk acid or folic acid alone during the first trimester may decrease the incidence of neural tube defects like spina bifida. There is no data that after the first trimester prenatal vitamins are essential.

I would like to take a hot bath. Is this okay?

Studies show that hot saunas during the first trimester may cause miscarriage. There is no evidence that hot baths cause any fetal harm.

I have a sinus infection. Can I take antibiotics?

Yes. The only antibiotic that you should absolutely not take in pregnancy is tetracycline. Avoid sulfa and quinolone antibiotics in the third trimester.

Will higher elevations and altitude be harmful to the baby?

No, but if you have any difficulty breathing, you should return to a lower elevation.

Is it okay to have sexual intercourse during pregnancy?

There is no evidence that sex causes miscarriage or premature labor in low-risk pregnancies. You may be sexually active until labor starts unless your physician instructs you otherwise. If your pregnancy is complicated, discuss this with your doctor. Lubricants such as Astroglide or KY jelly are not harmful. A small amount of spotting during the 24 hours after intercourse is common.

Will stress hurt the baby?


I have pressure in my lower pelvis. Is this normal?

Yes, hormones cause the ligaments and the cartilage in the joint to soften and move during the pregnancy.

It feels as if my heart is racing. Is this normal?

Yes, it is common to have palpitations. Notify your physician if you have fainting spells.

I think I have a yeast infection. What medication can I use?

It is safe to use any of the over-the-counter medications designed for treating a yeast infection.

What can I use to relieve the discomfort of hemorrhoids?

Use Anusol HC cream or Tucks medicated pads to relieve hemorrhoidal discomfort. Increase the fluids and fiber in your diet to decrease constipation.

I don’t drink milk and would like to know how much calcium I need to take.

The recommended daily allowance during pregnancy is 1500 mg daily. TUMS antacid is the easiest sources of calcium to take.

I have varicose veins. Is there anything I can do to alleviate the discomfort and prevent them from getting worse?

Avoid long periods of standing or sitting. When sitting, elevate your legs above the level of your hips. Try wearing support pantyhose throughout the day. Exercise, such as walking 20 to 30 minutes daily, is also helpful. If you are experiencing uncomfortable vulvar varicosities, wearing maternity exercise or bicycle shorts may help.

Is it safe to exercise?

Yes. In an uncomplicated pregnancy, we recommend exercise as it makes labor easier, decreases the incidence of pre-term labor as well as cesarean section. If an exercise causes cramping, shortness of breath, or pain, then decrease the intensity or stop exercising and discuss with your doctor. You should be able to carry on a conversation while you exercise. Soccer, ice hockey, skiing, horseback riding, and water skiing are strongly discouraged. Scuba diving is not safe at any time during pregnancy.

The baby’s heart rate is fast – does this mean that the baby is a girl or a boy?

Heart rate does not determine whether the baby is a girl or boy.

When do I find out the sex of my baby?

Usually around 18-20 weeks during your anatomical ultrasound.

Do I have to have a full bladder for my ultrasound?

This really depends on your reason for the ultrasound. Please consult our staff.

I just had a second trimester ultrasound and the size of the baby does not correspond with the gestational age. Does this mean that my due date is different?

If the dates are off by greater than 2 weeks, then the due date may be changed. If an ultrasound was performed earlier, your dates will not change.

Which doctor will be on call for the delivery of my baby?

The schedule for what doctors may be on call is never set in stone. This is always subject to change.

How is the cord blood collected?

After deciding to proceed with cord blood collection, the parents need to contact a collection company to obtain a collection kit. The kit is brought to the hospital and given to the labor nurse or obstetric tech for the delivery table. If a cesarean section is necessary, the kit must be placed on the sterile table. After the baby is delivered, your obstetrician collects the blood into the kit’s collection system and then you send it back to be stored according to the directions included in the kit.

Does my insurance cover the cost of collection and storage?

You should check with your carrier. Usually collection and storage are not a covered benefit. Your insurance may reimburse your physician for the professional charges encountered with the collection.

How do I find a cord blood collection company?

Many companies are not providing this service. A list can be obtained at More information can be found at,, or When choosing, look for a firm that has a good transplant history and that freezes the samples in their own facilities.