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Pregnancy For Dummies

Pregnancy For Dummies

4.1 23
by Joanne Stone, Keith Eddleman M.D., Mary Duenwald

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Now updated—our bestselling guide to a safe and healthy pregnancy

With robust sales and its own four-part cable TV series, Pregnancy For Dummies has been a perennial favorite, giving parents-to-be authoritative, friendly, up-to-date advice on every aspect of pregnancy and childbirth. This new edition offers all of the latest information


Now updated—our bestselling guide to a safe and healthy pregnancy

With robust sales and its own four-part cable TV series, Pregnancy For Dummies has been a perennial favorite, giving parents-to-be authoritative, friendly, up-to-date advice on every aspect of pregnancy and childbirth. This new edition offers all of the latest information expecting parents want to know, including expanded coverage on the health and well-being of both mother and child. It takes readers through the first, second, and third trimesters, providing new and updated coverage of prenatal genetic screening and diagnosis, amniocentesis, new high-tech ultrasounds, and the revised FDA/USDA food pyramid. It also discusses the recent celebrity trend of "on-demand" cesarean sections, multiple births, what to expect in labor and delivery, postpartum care, choosing bottle or breastfeeding, preparing a home (and siblings) for a new baby, caring for preemies, and the mother's mental as well as physical health.

"A thorough, accurate, and highly informative guide."
Los Angeles Times

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“…an accurate and informative read…giving essential information without instilling fear…” (Junior Pregnancy & Birth, February 2005)

Product Details

Publication date:
For Dummies Series
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7.50(w) x 9.10(h) x 0.90(d)

Read an Excerpt

Pregnancy For Dummies

By Joanne Stone Keith Eddleman Mary Duenwald

John Wiley & Sons

ISBN: 0-7645-4483-7

Chapter One

From Here to Maternity

In This Chapter

* Checking out your health and family history

* Preparing your body for pregnancy

* Making it happen: Conception made easy

Congratulations! If you're already pregnant, you're about to embark upon one of the most exciting adventures of your life. The next year or so is going to be filled with tremendous changes and (we hope) unbelievable happiness. If you're thinking about getting pregnant, you're probably excited at the prospect and also a little nervous at the same time.

And if your pregnancy is still in the planning stages, check out this chapter to find out what you can do to get ready for pregnancy - first by visiting your practitioner and going over your family and personal health history. Then you can discover whether you're in optimal shape to get pregnant, or if you need to take some time to gain or lose weight, improve your diet, quit smoking, or discontinue medications that could be harmful to your pregnancy. We also give you some basic advice about the easiest way to conceive, and we touch on the topic of infertility.

Getting Ready to Get Pregnant: The Preconceptional Visit

By the time you miss your period and discover you're pregnant, the embryo, now two weeks old or more, is already undergoing dramatic changes. Believe it or not, when the embryo is only twoto three weeks old, it has already developed the beginnings of its heart and brain. Because your general health and nutrition can influence the growth of those organs, having your body ready for pregnancy before you get pregnant really pays off. Schedule what's called a preconceptional visit with your practitioner to be sure your body is tuned up and ready to go.

Sometimes you can schedule this visit during a routine gynecological appointment: When you go in for your annual PAP test, mention that you're thinking about having a baby, and your practitioner will take you through the preliminaries. If you aren't due for your annual exam for several more months and you're ready to begin trying to get pregnant now, go ahead and schedule a preconceptional visit with your practitioner, and bring along the father-to-be, if at all possible, so both of you can provide health histories - and know what to expect from this adventure.

If you're already pregnant and didn't have a preconceptional visit, don't worry, because your practitioner will go over these topics at your first prenatal visit, which we discuss in Chapter 5.

Taking a look at your history

The preconceptional visit is a chance for your practitioner to identify areas of concern so he or she can keep you and your baby healthy - even before you get pregnant. A multitude of factors come into play, and the practitioner is likely to ask you about the following:

  •   Previous pregnancies and gynecologic history: Information about previous pregnancies can help your practitioner decide how best to manage your future pregnancies. He or she will ask you to describe any prior pregnancies, any miscarriages or premature births, multiple births - any situations that can happen again. For example, knowing whether you had problems in the past, like pre-term labor or high blood pressure, is helpful for the practitioner. Your gynecologic history is equally important because information like prior surgery on your uterus or cervix or a history of irregular periods also may influence your pregnancy.

  •   Your family history: Reviewing your family's medical history alerts your practitioner to conditions that may complicate your pregnancy or be passed on to the developing baby. You want to discuss your family history because you can take steps before you conceive to decrease the chance that certain disorders, such as having a family history of neural tube defects (spina bifida, for example), will affect your pregnancy (see the sidebar "Why the sudden hype on folic acid?" later in this chapter). In Chapter 8, we discuss in more detail different genetic conditions and ways of testing for them.

    For those of you considering the use of donor eggs or sperm, keep in mind that the donor's genetic history is just as important as any other biological parent's. Find out as much as you can.

  •   Looking at your ethnic roots: Your preconceptional visit involves questions about your parents' and grandparents' ancestry - not because your practitioner is nosy, but because some inheritable problems are concentrated in certain populations. Again, the advantage of finding out about these problems before you get pregnant is that if you and your partner are at risk for one of these problems, you have more time to become informed and to check out all your options (see Chapter 5).

    Evaluating your current health

    Most women contemplating pregnancy are perfectly healthy and don't have problems that can have an impact on pregnancy. Still, a preconceptional visit is very useful because it's a time to make a game plan and to find out more about how to optimize your chances of having a healthy and uncomplicated pregnancy. You can discover how to reach your ideal body weight and how to start on a good exercise program, and you can begin to take prenatal vitamins with folic acid.

    Some women, however, do have medical disorders that can affect the pregnancy. Expect your practitioner to ask whether you have any one of a list of conditions. For example, if you have diabetes, stabilizing your blood sugar levels before you get pregnant and watching those levels during your pregnancy are important. If you're prone to high blood pressure (hypertension), your doctor will want to control it before you get pregnant, because controlling hypertension can be time-consuming and can involve changing medications more than once. If you have other problems - epilepsy, for example - checking your medications and controlling your condition are important. For a condition like systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), your practitioner may encourage you to try to become pregnant at a time when you're having very few symptoms.

    You can expect questions about whether you smoke, indulge in more than a drink or two a day, or use any recreational/illicit drugs. Your practitioner isn't interrogating you and is unlikely to chastise you, so be comfortable answering honestly. These habits can be harmful to a pregnancy, and dropping them before you get pregnant is best. Your practitioner can advise you on ways to do so or refer you to help or support groups.

    You also need to discuss any prescription or over-the-counter drugs you take regularly and your diet and exercise routines. Do you take vitamins? Do you diet frequently? Are you a vegetarian? Do you work out regularly? Discuss all these issues with your practitioner.

    If you haven't had a recent physical exam or PAP smear, your practitioner will probably recommend that you have it done during this preconceptional visit.

    Answering Commonly Asked Questions

    Your preconceptional visit is also a time for you to ask your practitioner questions. In this section, we answer the most common questions - about body weight, medications, vaccinations, and quitting birth control.

    Getting to your ideal body weight

    The last thing most women need is another reason to be concerned about weight control. But this point is important: Pregnancy goes most smoothly for women who aren't too heavy or too thin. Overweight women stand a higher-than-normal risk of developing diabetes or high blood pressure during pregnancy, and they're more likely to end up delivering their babies via cesarean section. Underweight women risk having too-small (low birth-weight) babies.

    Try to reach a healthy, normal weight before you get pregnant. Trying to lose weight after you conceive isn't advisable, even if you're overweight. And if you're underweight to begin with, catching up on pounds when the baby is growing may be difficult. (Read more about your ideal weight and weight gain in Chapter 4.)

    Reviewing your medications

    Many medicines - both over-the-counter and prescription - are safe to take during pregnancy. But a few medications can cause problems for the baby's development. So let your doctor know about all the medications you take. If one of them is problematic, you can probably switch to something safer. Keep in mind that adjusting dosages and checking for side effects may take time.

    Exposure to the following drugs and chemicals is considered to be safe during pregnancy:

  •   Acetaminophen

  •   Acyclovir

  •   Antiemetics (for example, phenothiazines and trimethobenzamide)

  •   Antihistamines (for example, doxylamine)

  •   Aspartame (brand names Nutrasweet and Equal)

  •   Low-dose aspirin

  •   Minor tranquilizers (for example, meprobamate, chlordiazepoxide, and fluoxetine)

  •   Penicillin, cephalexin, trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole, erythromycin, and several other antibiotics

  •   Zidovudine

    The following are some of the common medications that women ask about before they get pregnant:

  •   Birth control pills: Women sometimes get pregnant while they're on the Pill (because they missed or were late taking a couple of pills during the month) and then worry that their babies will have birth defects. But oral contraceptives haven't been shown to have any ill effects on a baby. Two to three percent of all babies are born with birth defects, and babies born to women on oral contraceptives are at no higher risk.

  •   Ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil): Occasional use of these and other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory agents during pregnancy (for pain or inflammation) is okay and hasn't been associated with problems in infants. However, avoid chronic or persistent use of these medications during pregnancy (especially during the last trimester), because they have the potential to affect platelet function and blood vessels in the baby's circulatory system.

  •   Vitamin A: This vitamin and some of its derivatives can cause miscarriage or serious birth defects if too much is present in your bloodstream when you get pregnant. The situation is complicated by the fact that vitamin A can remain in your body for several months after you consume it. Discontinuing any drugs that contain vitamin A derivatives - the most common is the anti-acne drug Accutane - at least one month before trying to conceive is important. Scientists don't know whether topical creams containing vitamin A derivatives - anti-aging creams like Retin A and Renova, for example - are as problematic as drugs that you swallow, so consult your physician about them.

    Some women take supplements of vitamin A, because they're vegetarians and don't get enough from their diet or because they suffer from vitamin A deficiency. The maximum safe dose during pregnancy is 5,000 international units (IU) daily. (You need to take twice that amount to reach the danger zone.) Multiple vitamins, including prenatal vitamins, typically contain 5,000 IU of vitamin A or less. Check the label on your vitamin bottle to be sure.

    If you're worried that your prenatal vitamin plus your diet will put you into that "danger zone" of 10,000 IU per day, rest assured that it would be extremely difficult to get that much vitamin A in your diet.

  •   Blood thinners: Women who are prone to developing blood clots or who have artificial heart valves need to take blood-thinning agents every day. One type of blood thinner, coumadin, or its derivatives can trigger miscarriage, impair the baby's growth, or cause the baby to develop bleeding problems or structural abnormalities if taken during pregnancy. Women who take this medicine and are thinking of getting pregnant should switch to a different blood thinner. Ask your practitioner for more information.

  •   Drugs for high blood pressure: Many of these medications are considered safe to take during pregnancy. However, because a few can be problematic, you should discuss any medications to treat high blood pressure with your doctor (see Chapter 16).

  •   Antiseizure drugs: Some of the medicines used to prevent epileptic seizures are safer than others for use during pregnancy. If you're taking any of these drugs, discuss them with your doctor. Don't simply stop taking any antiseizure medicine, because seizures may be worse for you - and the baby - than the medications themselves (see Chapter 16).

  •   Tetracycline: If you take this antibiotic during the last several months of pregnancy, it may, much later on, cause your baby's teeth to be yellow.

  •   Antidepressants: Many antidepressants (like Prozac) have been studied extensively and are considered perfectly safe during pregnancy. If you are taking an antidepressant and planning to conceive, you should ask your doctor whether you will be able to keep taking the medication while you're pregnant.

    Considering nutraceuticals

    Many women choose to treat common ailments with over-the-counter plant extracts or other natural medications. Some are considered completely safe during pregnancy, but keep in mind that, because they are considered nutritional supplements, these agents are not regulated by the FDA. Despite the fact that many pregnant women use these supplements, very few studies have evaluated their safety during pregnancy. St John's wort, for instance, is an herb commonly used to treat depression, sleep disorders, and viral infections. Not only can this herb interact with other medications, but also its safety during pregnancy has not been studied, so use it with caution.

    Some herbal medications should not be used during pregnancy because they can cause uterine contractions or even miscarriage. A short list of agents that are not recommended during pregnancy includes mugwort, blue cohosh, tansy, black cohosh, Scotch broom, goldenseal, juniper berry, pennyroyal oil, rue, mistletoe, and chaste berry.


    Excerpted from Pregnancy For Dummies by Joanne Stone Keith Eddleman Mary Duenwald Excerpted by permission.
    All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
    Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

  • Meet the Author

    Joanne Stone, MD, is a full-time faculty member in the internationally renowned Division of Maternal-Fetal Medicine at The Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York City. She is the director of the Division of Maternal-Fetal Medicine and also cares for patients with problem pregnancies. She has lectured throughout the country, is widely published in medical journals, and has been interviewed frequently for television and magazines on topics related to pregnancy, with a special emphasis on the management of multi-fetal pregnancies. She was a co-star in the critically acclaimed series Pregnancy For Dummies on the Discovery Health Channel. Away from the hospital she loves to spend time with her husband, George, and her two wonderful girls, Chloe and Sabrina.

    Keith Eddleman, MD, works with Joanne at Mount Sinai. He is a professor in the medical school and the Director of Obstetrics at the hospital. He teaches medical students, residents, and fellows; lectures throughout the world; and appears often on television to discuss issues concerning the care of pregnant women. His areas of special expertise are ultrasound and reproductive genetics. He was also a co-star on the critically acclaimed series Pregnancy For Dummies on the Discovery Health Channel. His free time, when he has any, is split between spending time with his family at their apartment in Manhattan or at their country house in upstate New York.

    Mary Duenwald is a writer and editor who has specialized in medicine and science journalism for many years. She has written for the New York Times, Discover, Smithsonian, and Departures. She has been executive editor of Harper’s Bazaar, Women’s Sports & Fitness, and The Sciences magazines and a senior editor for Vogue. She is currently a contributing editor for GQ. She is also the mother of twins, Nick and Claire Murray.

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    Pregnancy for Dummies 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 23 reviews.
    Guest More than 1 year ago
    When my husband and I got pregnant we were thrilled, then that feeling of 'what do we do now' hit us. I had seen this book before, so I decided to buy it and it was great! I read this book and often consulted it throughout my pregnancy. This book also helped me understand what was going on inside me, how the baby was growing and helped me ask BETTER questions to my doctor.
    Guest More than 1 year ago
    This book is outstanding for first time mommies! It is complete, comprehensive, and in true 'dummies' fasion, is extremely easy to read and understand. Far exceeds my expectations of what to expect while I'm expecting. If you are going to read any book while you are pregnant, read this book and by-pass 'What To Expect While you are Expecting'. 'what to expect' is too much medical mumbo jumbo. 'Dummies' is definitely the best book to start with!
    Guest More than 1 year ago
    This is the ultimate book for first time moms to read if they want to know 'what to expect'...not that other book (you know which book I'm talking about). I could not get into the other book, it was so boring and drab. But this book, I just couldn't put it down. I actually read this book from cover to cover more than once, and it was an excellent reference throughout my pregnancy and afterward also. It even inspired me to pursue my current career field. As an OB nurse and a mom, I would definitely recommend this book to every first time mom.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    Dummies has everything!
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    Thank you ( holds them )
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    Gtgtb bbt
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    This book is great my sister just gave birth to quintoplits last week and i am expecting twins.