Pregnancy

Will multiple sclerosis affect my pregnancy?

DEAR DOCTOR K: I have multiple sclerosis. My husband and I would like to have a baby. What do I need to know before I get pregnant?

DEAR READER: Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a disease that affects communication between nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord and the rest of the body. This results in symptoms that may include fatigue, weakness, pain and trouble with movement. In the most common form of the disease, sudden worsening of symptoms (flare-ups or relapses) alternate with symptom-free periods (remissions)

What should I know about traveling during pregnancy?

DEAR DOCTOR K: My job requires a lot of travel, and I recently became pregnant with my first child. What do I need to know about traveling safely during pregnancy?

DEAR READER: Being pregnant doesn't mean you have to stay at home for nine months. There are exceptions; particularly in the last three months, some women develop complications of pregnancy that require them to be resting. But for most women, travel poses no threat to the mother or child. But travel by car, train or airplane can be less comfortable when you're pregnant, so you should take a few precautions to travel comfortably and safely.

How much weight should a woman gain during pregnancy?

DEAR DOCTOR K: I am pregnant, and my doctor says that I'm gaining too much weight. I trust the doctor, but I've heard that it's normal to gain weight during pregnancy. How much weight should a woman gain?

DEAR READER: It's natural for a woman's appetite to increase during pregnancy. This is nature's way of making sure that she eats enough for herself and her growing baby. All women should gain weight during pregnancy, while eating healthfully and sensibly. But too much weight gain isn't good for a woman or her baby.

What fish should I avoid while pregnant?

DEAR DOCTOR K: I recently found out that I'm pregnant. I'd like to continue eating fish, but I understand some fish contain mercury, which could be harmful to my baby. What fish should I avoid?

DEAR READER: Fish are a great source of lean protein, and many types are rich in heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids, which help brain and nerve development and protect the heart. In fact, current dietary guidelines recommend that women who are pregnant eat 12 ounces of seafood a week. But as you noted, some species of fish do contain worrisome amounts of methylmercury. This toxin is especially dangerous to developing brains. High-mercury fish you should avoid during pregnancy include swordfish, shark, king mackerel and tilefish.

What can I do to stop my morning sickness?

DEAR DOCTOR K: I'm in my first trimester of pregnancy and battling terrible morning sickness. What can I do to feel better?

DEAR READER: Morning sickness can put a damper on an otherwise joyous time. It is very common, affecting 50 to 90 percent of pregnant women. In most cases, the nausea and vomiting associated with morning sickness start around the fifth or sixth week of 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.