Below you will find answers to many of the questions we hear every day from our OB patients. Please do not hesitate to discuss any of these issues with your doctor.
When should I schedule my first OB appointment?
If you are considering becoming pregnant it is best to make an appointment to see your doctor prior to pregnancy so you can discuss any health issues or special circumstances you may have. If you are already pregnant, go ahead and call the office for your appointment as soon as you can. We will help you figure out how far along you are and then schedule your first appointment.
Printable Pregnancy Handouts:
What can I expect during my visits to the OB?
Every visit will start with taking your vital signs (blood pressure, weight, etc.) and checking your urine for any signs of infection. You will then be seen by the doctor who will make sure you are doing well and answer any questions you might have. If you are far enough along you can expect the doctor to measure your abdomen and listen to your baby’s heartbeat. See our Prenatal Care handout? to the right for details about what types of testing to expect during your routine OB visits.
"Dr. Rice was such a comfort during my pregnancy. She listened and answered any questions, I am so glad that my friend recommended her. She is great!" ~ Nichole Evans
Will I get an ultrasound at my first visit?
An ultrasound is not usually done at your first visit, but you can expect to schedule a separate visit in the near future
for an ultrasound.
How late into my pregnancy is it safe for me to work?
As long as your pregnancy has been uncomplicated and your job does not place you or your pregnancy at risk for harm, there are no restrictions to working up to the day of your delivery. Discuss any special circumstances with your doctor.
Can I travel?
Traveling is safe during pregnancy for most women, but this can change depending on how far along you are, your comfort, and any problems with your pregnancy that require special care. Whether you are traveling by car or airplane, make sure you make regular stops or get up to stretch your legs frequently. Also be sure to drink plenty of fluids to stay hydrated, and don't forget to always wear your seatbelt. Some airlines restrict travel during the last month of pregnancy so you may need to check with the airline before booking a trip. If you plan to travel outside the United States, talk to your doctor.
What medication can I take?
See our Medications? handout. If you do not see a specific medication listed and you feel you need to take it, call the office.
When should I go to the hospital?
See the warning signs? Please see when to call the doctor document. If you have a concerning symptom not addressed on the list, either call the office or go to the hospital.
If you are having a medical emergency, call 911 immediately.
Can I color my hair? What about getting a manicure or pedicure?
Having your hair colored, straightened, or permed during pregnancy is safe, as long as you are in a well-ventilated area, but you may find that you are more sensitive to the smells in a hair salon. Manicures and pedicures are also perfectly safe during pregnancy. Again, make sure you are in a well-ventilated area. You will also want to make sure your salon properly sterilizes instruments to avoid infection. Acrylic nails can involve more exposure to solvent fumes. There is no known risk to using the acrylic nail products occasionally in a well-ventilated area, but you may be more sensitive to the fumes than when you are not pregnant. If you work in a salon or other environment where you are exposed to solvent fumes regularly, talk to your doctor.
Is it safe for me to paint the walls in my nursery?
It is perfectly safe to paint your nursery, or any other room in your home, as long as you use water-based paint and keep the windows open. Stay away from oil-based or lead-based paint, as well as any paint that was manufactured prior to 1990. Mercury used to be added to latex paint as a preservative, but the Federal Drug Administration banned it in 1990. When cleaning paint brushes, be sure to avoid turpentine and other pain removers. Latex paint can be cleaned up with water, so this should not be a problem. If you are using spray paint, check the label for M-butyl keton? or MBK and do not use the paint if it contains this chemical. You should also avoid breathing fumes from polyurethane paints and coatings (often used to finish wood flooring). If you have to have this done in your home, keep the windows open for 24 hours after the job is done. Also, be aware that almost all houses built before 1950 have lead paint on the walls. Scraping off old paint or taking down old wallpaper could expose you to lead dust which can be harmful to your baby. Last, be extra careful if you have to use a ladder. Being pregnant changes your center of gravity and can make you more prone to losing your balance and falling.
What can I NOT eat or drink? What about caffeine or alcohol?
Unpasteurized milk and soft cheese, deli meats, refrigerated smoked seafood (such as lox or smoked salmon), and uncooked poultry, meat, and shellfish all carry a risk causing the bacterial infection listeriosis, which can be particularly harmful to pregnant women and their babies. To prevent listeriosis, wash all fresh fruits and vegetables before using them and do not eat any unpasteurized milk or soft cheese, raw or undercooked meat, poultry, or shellfish. Always wash your hands and any utensils, countertops, or cutting boards that have been in contact with raw meats. Eating raw shellfish (such as raw oysters) can put you at risk for hepatitis and should be avoided during your pregnancy. Also, raw eggs or any foods that contain raw eggs (homemade Caesar dressings, mayonnaise, and ice cream) should not be eaten during pregnancy due to the risk of salmonella. Commercially manufactured products are safe because they are made with pasteurized eggs and do not carry a risk of salmonella. Fish and shellfish are good sources of protein, but you should avoid certain types of fish because they can contain high levels of mercury, which can be harmful to the developing fetus. Shark, swordfish, king mackerel, and tilefish should be avoided. Shrimp, canned light tuna (not albacore), salmon, pollock, and catfish can be safely eaten but you should limit it to no more than 12oz per week (about two meals).
Studies about caffeine are conflicting. If you must have your morning cup of coffee, we recommend no more than 200mg/day, or approx. two 8 oz. cups of brewed coffee.
No amount of alcohol is known to be safe during pregnancy and should be avoided.
Can I go to the tanning bed? What about self-tanners?
The ingredients in self-tanners are harmless dyes that stay on the surface of your skin. They won’t harm your developing and are fine to use during pregnancy. Some spray tans involve breathing in fumes, so you may want to limit this type of self-tan. Tanning beds are a different story. There’s no good evidence that they are harmful to a developing fetus, but there is plenty of proof that they are dangerous to you. They pose the same dangers as the sun, increasing your risk of developing melanoma, which can spread to your placenta. Lying in a tanning bed can raise your body temperature, which is known to be hazardous to your baby, particularly during your first trimester. There’s also a concern that lying on your back too long could restrict blood flow to your uterus, and thus your baby as well. Last, pregnant women often have more sensitive skin. Exposure to UV rays during this time can put them at higher risk of chloasma, or the pregnancy mask? those dark splotches that can appear on the face during pregnancy. We recommend that both our pregnant and non-pregnant patients avoid tanning beds.
Is it safe for me to get in the hot tub?
Most hot tubs and saunas are too hot to be safe for pregnant women and their developing fetus, so it is not a good idea unless you can control the temperature and set it at no more than 100°F.
Can I get a massage?
A massage during pregnancy can be a great way to relax, relieve muscle aches and pain, and reduce anxiety. It’s important to tell your massage therapist that you are pregnant, even if you are early in your pregnancy. He or she will help you find a safe and comfortable body position and then modify your massage to avoid sensitive pressure points.
Are there any restrictions on sexual activity?
If your pregnancy has been healthy and normal, it's safe to have sex throughout your pregnancy. It’s important to consider your comfort level, and sex should not be painful or uncomfortable during pregnancy. As your belly expands, you and your partner may need to explore various positions. If you’ve had complications in your pregnancy, you may be advised not to have sex. Also, you can still acquire sexually transmitted infections during pregnancy, and these can be harmful to both you and our baby. Condoms can help reduce your risk. Talk with your doctor about any special circumstances you may have.
Is ligament pain or cramping common during pregnancy? Should I be worried?
Occasional abdominal discomfort is a common pregnancy complaint and is often harmless, but it can also be a sign of a serious problem. The most common causes of harmless abdominal discomfort are gas and bloating, constipation, round ligament pain, and Braxton-Hicks contractions. Round ligament pain usually starts in your second trimester (after 13 weeks), and results from the stretching of ligaments that support your enlarging uterus. It is generally a brief, sharp, stabbing pain (often when changing position) or a longer-lasting dull ache you may feel on one or both sides of your lower abdomen or groin, especially after a particularly active day. Any severe or persistent pain should not be ignored (see handout "When to call the Doctor"). Pain associated with vaginal bleeding, painful or burning urination, fever >100.4°F, trauma to the abdomen, or any other concerning symptoms is a sign that you should either call your doctor or seek medical care immediately.
Can I take prenatal vitamins from the grocery store or do I need a prescription?
As long as your prenatal vitamin contains folic acid and DHA (an omega-3 fatty acid important for neurological development), an over the counter prenatal vitamin is acceptable. Many prescription prenatal vitamins contain special formulations that can be better than over the counter vitamins, depending on your specific needs. Available prescription vitamins include those that come in chewable or liquid form, contain more iron or a stool softener or more readily available folic acid, or even extra ingredients or a special coating that help with morning sickness. Take with your doctor about which ones are best for you. Regardless of which prenatal vitamin you decide on, it’s best to not wait until you are pregnant to start them. Getting enough folic acid before you conceive is important in preventing certain birth defects.
When should I go register at the hospital?
We recommend you register at the hospital (Presbyterian Plano and Baylor Scott and White Centennial for patients under Baylor Scott and White insurance) sometime between 32 and 36 weeks gestation. You do not need to make an appointment.
You can pre-register at either hospital online via the links provided under Hospital Registration and Classes.
This will eliminate some of the paperwork you have to complete when you go to the hospital for your delivery. It will also give you and opportunity to speak with the hospital’s financial department ahead of time should you have any questions about your insurance coverage.
Is it safe to clean out the cat’s litter box?
The concern here is toxoplasmosis, a parasite infection that can be transmitted through infected cat feces (or outdoor soil where cats have been). If you’ve never had toxoplasmosis and you get the infection while you’re pregnant, you can pass the infection on to your developing baby, which can cause birth defects such as eye and neurological damage. While the possible effects sound scary, take comfort in knowing that indoor cats are unlikely to carry toxoplasmosis, and if you’ve been around outdoor cats for a while, you may already be immune. Talk to your doctor about special blood tests that can determine if you are already immune to toxoplasmosis. If you are immune, you won’t need to worry about changing the litter box. You can reduce your chances of getting the infection while pregnant by practicing good hygiene, having someone else change the litter, wearing gloves while gardening, and washing your hands thoroughly after gardening or handling litter.
What temperature is considered a fever?
We consider a fever 100.4°F (38°C) or greater. If you think you have a fever then be sure to take your temperature with a thermometer. Just feeling feverish does not necessarily mean you have a fever.
When should I start feeling the baby move?
Most women start feeling their baby move sometime between 16 and 22 weeks. Veteran moms tend to notice the more subtle movements earlier than first-time moms, so don’t worry if it’s your first baby and it’s taking you longer to distinguish between baby’s kicks and other belly rumblings.
Can I get a flu shot? Should I?
If you are pregnant, a flu shot is your best protection against serious illness from the flu. A flu shot can protect pregnant women, their unborn babies, and even their babies after birth. All major health organizations (including the Centers for Disease Control and The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists) (corrected from earlier version) recommend the influenza vaccine for all pregnant women. The flu is especially dangerous during pregnancy and you have an increased chance of having complications from the flu (such as pneumonia, miscarriage, and preterm birth) while you are pregnant. Our office can provide you with this important immunization.
Can I go to the dentist?
Not only is it safe to get your teeth cleaned during pregnancy, it’s highly recommended. Recent studies show an association between preterm labor and gum disease, so regular trips to the dentist can actually be healthy to your pregnancy. Most injectable anesthetics used by dentists are safe, and x-rays are considered safe as long as you are wearing a lead apron. Just be sure to inform your dentist so he or she can take the necessary precautions.
Can I exercise while I am pregnant? What about yoga?
As long as you don’t have any complications with your pregnancy, most forms of exercise are safe so long as avoid sports with a high likelihood for contact or falling. You will likely find that you need to adjust your routine as you get farther along in your pregnancy. Starting a new exercise regimen can be tricky while you are pregnant, so be sure to check with your doctor first. Yoga is a great way to stay fit and help you adjust to the physical and emotional demands of pregnancy, labor, and motherhood. Be sure to tell your instructor you are pregnant so that he or she can help you stay safe. Prenatal yoga classes are popular and can be a great way to meet other moms-to-be. Talk to your doctor about any specific restrictions or modifications you may need to consider in order to stay healthy and safe