Pregnancy

How will my pregnancy with twins be different from my last one?

DEAR DOCTOR K: I just found out I'm pregnant with twins. How will this pregnancy be different from my last one?

DEAR READER: Congratulations! Along with double the diapers and late-night feedings, you'll experience double the love, laughs and fun. But, yes, you will have to deal with some challenges. In the United States, twins occur in one out of every 35 births. Twins can be fraternal or identical. Fraternal twins occur when two eggs are fertilized. This produces two embryos; they are not identical, and may not even be the same gender. In fact, fraternal twins are genetically no more similar than other siblings.

Can I continue taking my antidepressant during pregnancy?

DEAR DOCTOR K: I take an SSRI for depression. I'm trying to get pregnant, but I'm worried about going off my antidepressant during pregnancy. Can I continue to take an SSRI?

DEAR READER: You can, but at some small risk to the baby. But if you stop taking the SSRI while you are pregnant, you may increase your own risk of worsening depression during and after the pregnancy. Treating depression is important for both your sake and your baby's.

What determines a premature baby’s chance of survival?

DEAR DOCTOR K: My sister recently gave birth prematurely, at 33 weeks. Thankfully, the doctors think my new niece will do well and should not have developmental problems. I know that doctors are able to save more premature babies these days than they used to. What determines whether a "preemie" survives?

DEAR READER: I'm glad to hear that your new niece is doing well. Being born at 33 weeks means she was born seven weeks early. Most babies are delivered about 40 weeks after the mother's last menstrual period. Labor starts with a perfectly timed cascade of hormonal signals between the developing fetus and the mother. Contractions develop, the cervix dilates, and before long, out comes a well-developed, healthy newborn. But sometimes labor comes early.

Should I have an ultrasound to find out the sex of my baby?

DEAR DOCTOR K: I'm having my first baby in six months. I'm resisting the urge to find out the sex of my baby during an ultrasound, but I hear there are other ways to tell. Is this true?

DEAR READER: For centuries, pregnant women and their husbands have made guesses about whether their baby would be a boy or a girl. Some prospective parents think they can tell by things such as the shape of a woman's pregnant belly or by her food cravings. Sometimes they're right — in fact, they're right about half of the time.

What is the difference between the “baby blues” and postpartum depression?

DEAR DOCTOR K: I had my first baby about a month ago, and ever since I have been feeling depressed and overwhelmed. I keep waiting for these feelings to go away, chalking them up to my adjustment to new parenthood, but they haven't yet. At what point should I seek treatment?

DEAR READER: Most mothers experience the "baby blues" during the first few days after giving birth. Symptoms include anxiety, irritability and weepiness. They typically worsen by the fourth or fifth day after delivery. Then they go away over the next two weeks. The cause is unknown. It may be simply exhaustion from labor and delivery.

Some treatments for fibroids allow for future pregnancy

DEAR DOCTOR K: I am a 31-year-old woman who was recently diagnosed with uterine fibroids. I would like to have children in the future, so I'm afraid that treating my fibroids may affect my fertility.

DEAR READER: Fibroids are non-cancerous tumors in the uterus. Only about a quarter of women with fibroids have symptoms. However, the symptoms can be severe and can affect day-to-day life. Heavy bleeding, pelvic pain, having to pass urine frequently or difficulty passing urine are the most common symptoms.