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Doctor Tips, Weeks 14-26

1. Week 14

Once you become pregnant, it is so normal to shift all your focus to the baby you are growing and all the fun stuff related to pregnancy. But keep in mind you can’t ignore your regular healthcare maintenance! This means if you are due for your dental exam, be sure to call and schedule it. The better your overall health, the better your baby’s health. Almost all dental procedures are safe in pregnancy, and this includes X-rays, fillings, and root canals. If your dentist is wary, get your OB/GYN to write a letter of approval after reviewing what is needed. You should also keep up with your eye exams and routine check-ups by your primary care provider.

Read more about week 14.

2. Week 15

At this time, you are probably starting to appreciate your new little bump. Many pregnant women love to create a keepsake of their pregnancy to look back on, and now is a great time to start taking photos of your belly to watch how it grows. Many women will do this weekly and wear the same outfit and stand in the same spot in their home to be able to really see how much they are growing. Moms who have already had babies are notoriously bad at forgetting to take moments to enjoy their current pregnancy (since little ones are keeping them so busy!), so if this is your case, don’t forget to create these memories too!

Read more about week 15.

3. Week 16

Many women will have an ultrasound done early in the first trimester (around 6-8 weeks along) to figure out how many babies they are carrying, confirm that it is in the uterus, and calculate their due date. Others will not have one until the “big” ultrasound, which is done at 18-20 weeks. Known as the anatomy ultrasound, the purpose of this is to check on all the important structures in your baby such as the brain, heart, and more, including the sex. If you opt for a certain kind of genetic testing, you will have an ultrasound around 11-13 weeks of pregnancy to measure the thickness of the neck fold (this combined with bloodwork helps screen for chromosomal abnormalities). Some women will have even more frequent ultrasounds—monthly or even weekly—if they have certain high-risk issues.

Read more about week 16.

4. Week 17

By now, your partner can visually tell that you really are pregnant. While some partners are thrilled by this, others get a bit squeamish—especially when it comes to sex. Sex during pregnancy is normal and healthy. The only reason to avoid it is if your doctor or midwife told you to (such as for certain high-risk conditions), or if you or your partner don’t want to. If you want to have sex and your partner is afraid of hurting the baby, rest easy—it won’t happen! Discussing techniques other than vaginal intercourse might help, too.

Read more about week 17.

5. Week 18

Be sure to keep taking advantage of your second trimester energy with continuing to exercise. Enrolling in a prenatal yoga class, swimming, or getting on the treadmill for some speed walking can really keep you in shape and help with those aches and pains of pregnancy. Women who exercise in pregnancy have shorter labors, lower chances of developing gestational diabetes or needing a C-section, and healthier babies.

Read more about week 18.

6. Week 19

With the return of your appetite, it’s important to take advantage of the chance to get lots of healthy foods into your system! Fish gets a really bad rap in pregnancy, but is actually super important for your developing baby. Many pregnant women avoid fish because of fears of consuming too much mercury, but the truth is that lots of healthy fish options exist that will allow you to avoid high mercury levels while getting you the healthy fish oils that your baby needs. These fish oils (specifically DHA) are very important in your baby’s brain and eye development.

Read more about week 19.

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8. Week 20

By now, you’ve likely had your anatomy ultrasound, which is done between weeks 18 and 20. If any abnormalities were seen, you have likely been referred to a high-risk OB/GYN, or a maternal fetal medicine specialist, who can do a more detailed ultrasound. Sometimes you may need to see other specialists too, or get additional testing (like an MRI) to fully understand how your baby is developing. This can be a scary time while you figure out what is going on, but rest assured many “abnormalities” turn out to be nothing in the end. If they are major, however, it is extremely important to get the care you need.

Read more about week 20.

9. Week 21

As your belly expands, you have probably had to make some adjustments in your clothing. But what about your seatbelt? If you’ve opted to skip wearing your seatbelt because you are afraid you are going to hurt your baby, think again. The belt cannot hurt your baby, and if you are in an accident without one on you have a much higher chance of being injured, and your baby does too. As long as you keep the lap belt low on your hip bone below your belly with the shoulder strap in its normal position, you are fully protecting yourself and your little one!

Read more about week 21.

10. Week 22

Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) can cause some problems in pregnancy. Genital herpes, for example, can cause painful blisters on the vulva (outside of the vagina). If they are present when you go into labor, you will need to deliver by C-section to avoid passing it to your baby. Thankfully, medications exist that can help suppress these outbreaks, so talk to your doctor or midwife if you have this. Other infections such as gonorrhea, chlamydia, and trichomoniasis can lead to preterm labor and can be passed to your baby. Symptoms can include itching, burning, foul-smelling vaginal discharge, or discolored vaginal discharge.

Read more about week 22.

11. Week 23

Sleep might be something that is eluding you lately. Many reasons can be contributing to this: your need to pee more as your uterus pushes on your bladder, the inability to get comfortable in one position for too long, aches or restless feelings in your legs, and weird dreams or stressful thoughts keeping you up at night. Trying not to drink a lot before bedtime can help with the frequent urination, and investing in a good body pillow can work wonders. Calming sleep routines, like eliminating TV and phones in bed and listening to soothing music, can help your mind slow down and be more peaceful.

Read more about week 23.

12. Week 24

Now is the time to start paying attention to symptoms that could herald preterm labor. These include multiple strong contractions, increased vaginal pressure, increased vaginal discharge, leakage of fluid that is the consistency of water, or vaginal bleeding. If you aren’t sure, call your doctor or midwife and check in to be sure. While it’s true that babies this far along can possibly survive with the appropriate intensive care, many babies born at this age have permanent health issues, so any preterm labor at this point would want to be stopped!

Read more about week 24.

13. Week 25

Testing for gestational diabetes stresses many pregnant women out. Here’s the good news: you’ll either have it or you won’t, and there’s no “beating” the test. That means fasting ahead of time will not make your blood sugar level better. In fact, pregnant women should eat their normal diet for a few days beforehand to make the results as accurate as possible. Most obstetric providers are doing a two-step test as well. Lots of women have an abnormal screening test but their confirmatory test is normal, so fear not if you are in this group! And remember, if you are diagnosed with gestational diabetes, speaking with a nutritionist and exercising can be the best way to keep your baby healthy and possibly avoid the need for diabetes medications.

Read more about week 25.

14. Week 26

As your belly gets bigger and your center of gravity shifts, it is important to go more slowly when doing routine things like walking down stairs or carrying groceries. What was no problem a few weeks ago might now make you a little wobbly, and to avoid a fall on your abdomen be sure to slow down, wear practical and supportive shoes and hold on to hand rails. Another thing that can make you a little shaky is that your joints are looser, once again thanks to pregnancy hormones. All of these add up to an increased risk of slipping and falling. If you do fall, call your doctor or midwife for advice. Depending on how hard you fall and where you landed, they may want you to go to the hospital to monitor your baby.

Read more about week 26.

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