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Having a Healthy

Pregnancy

The wisdom and science


of growing a baby
WE AT AAAS, THE SCIENCE SOCIETY, created this series of booklets
just for you—mothers and mothers-to-be in Pittsburgh and the southwestern
Pennsylvania area. We wanted to share with you the science related to hav-
ing healthy babies. These booklets are yours—to read and share, to make
notes and to use them to talk with your health care provider.

We believe that these booklets will give you more information about the
science and technology surrounding pregnancy, birth, and delivery. Knowing
what to expect can make a big difference as you and your family, friends,
and neighbors look forward to welcoming a new baby.

We thank all of those who helped to make these materials available:


• The Heinz Endowments, for funding the project;
• Kristina Anderson of Easy Read Copywriting, for doing such a fine job with
the writing and rewriting of the booklets;
• Dr. Irene Frederick of East Liberty Family Health Care Center; Kathy
McGrath and Pamela Wilson of The Birth Circle, of East Liberty Family
Health Care Center and Metro Family Practice, Inc.; and Diana Chiaverini,
RN, of Magee-Womens Hospital, for reviewing our manuscripts;
• Cori Hill, Margaret Johnson, Adelaide Gans, Pamela Wilson, Irene Frederick,
Florine E. Stevenson, Richard Dixon, Angela M. Payne, and Jayda Payne-
Dixon for letting us take and use their pictures especially for these book-
lets;
• Fred P. Kenderson Photography, for taking some wonderful shots of
Pittsburgh families; and
• The Birth Circle and Healthy Start, Inc., for giving us feedback on earlier
versions of these booklets.

Good luck to you!


Kirstin Fearnley, Maria Sosa, Ann Williams,
and Shirley Malcom of the AAAS Healthy People
Development Team

Give your baby a healthy,


happy start in life.
Having a Healthy Pregnancy
The wisdom and science of growing a baby

Congratulations! You’re Having a Baby! . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3

The Science of Conception . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4

Prenatal Visits . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5

The Three Trimesters. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7


1st trimester . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7
2nd trimester . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8
3rd trimester . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8

Common Health Conditions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10


Serious science . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10

Eating for Two . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11


Smart food choices . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11

Exercise . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13

Making Healthy Choices . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14

Preparing for Birth . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15


Childbirth and Lamaze classes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16

1
Congratulations! You’re Having a Baby!
Being pregnant can be one of the most exciting times in your
life. For 40 weeks, your body gets to do one of the things it was
designed to do. . . make a baby. We call this design the science
of having a baby.

The changes in your body from the time you conceive to the
time you give birth are part of this natural process. And you
can help it be a very healthy one by making smart choices.
When you take care of your health, you take care of your baby’s
health.

This booklet has basic information to help you


have a healthy pregnancy
If there is something you do not understand, or if you want
more information, write it down so you can ask your health
care provider.

Pittsburgh has many health care providers and agencies that


can help you and your family be a healthy family.

3
The Science of Conception
A woman is born with thousands of eggs in her ovaries.

In women with regular cycles, each month the ovary releases


one or more of these eggs. This happens 14 days before
the start of a menstrual period. The egg then travels to the
fallopian (fa-lo-pee-in) tube.

That is where the sperm meets the egg and fertilizes it. The egg
then moves to the uterus and implants itself in the wall of the
uterus where it begins to form a baby.

If the egg is not fertilized, it is shed during the woman’s


menstrual cycle.

I have questions about:


____________________________________________________________
____________________________________________________________
____________________________________________________________
____________________________________________________________
4
Prenatal Visits
Being pregnant can be exciting and scary at the same time.
If this is your first pregnancy, you will have lots of questions
about you and your baby.

One of the healthiest


things you can do is to go
for regular health check-
ups, called prenatal visits.
It is important to start
seeing your health care
provider as soon as you
know you are pregnant.
He or she will check your
health and your baby’s
health and answer any
questions you or the
baby’s father have.

If you do not have health


insurance yet, don’t wait
until you have insurance
to go. Many health centers
have someone who will With regular check-ups, you have the best
chance possible to be healthy and stay healthy.
help you fill out the paper- Stay on top of your health with regular
work to apply for health prenatal visits.
insurance.

You can choose a midwife, a family doctor, or an obstetrician as


your health care provider during your pregnancy. Make sure
you choose someone you feel comfortable with and who listens
to your concerns. If you don’t feel comfortable with your
provider, think about looking for someone you feel more at
ease with.

5
They will continue to monitor your health and your baby’s
health during your pregnancy. The normal pregnancy lasts
about 40 weeks or 280 days. Because of science, health care
providers know what to look for and how to treat problems.

Start thinking about where you would like to give birth. In


Pennsylvania, while most babies are born in hospitals, there
are also out-of-hospital birth centers for women who would
like a more home-like feel.

I have questions about:

____________________________________________________________

____________________________________________________________

____________________________________________________________

____________________________________________________________

____________________________________________________________

____________________________________________________________

____________________________________________________________

____________________________________________________________

____________________________________________________________

____________________________________________________________

____________________________________________________________

____________________________________________________________

____________________________________________________________

6
The Three Trimesters
Medical scientists divide the
40 weeks of pregnancy into 3
trimesters. The first trimester is
weeks 0–12, the second, weeks
13–28, and the third, weeks
29–40. During prenatal visits,
your health care provider will
explain what your body is doing
as it grows a baby.

Change starts with conception.


You stop menstruating. You
urinate more often, and your
breasts feel sore. These are
Your body during the 1st trimester.
just some of the changes you
will notice during your first
trimester. Here are some others:
How did you first know you
were pregnant?
THE 1st TRIMESTER
_________________________
What’s happening
with your body _________________________

■ Hormones prepare your uterus _________________________


(womb) for pregnancy. _________________________
■ These hormones can cause I have questions about:
mood swings.
_________________________
■ You may feel tired and have
less energy. _________________________

■ You may feel sick to your _________________________

stomach. _________________________

_________________________
7
What’s happening
with your baby’s body
■ The fertilized egg turns
into an embryo.
■ The embryo’s cells divide
again and again to form
the baby’s major tissues
and organs.
■ At about 10 weeks, the
embryo becomes a fetus.
■ By the end of the 1st
trimester, the placenta
has formed. Your baby
gets its nourishment
through the placenta.

Your body during the 2nd trimester.

THE 2nd TRIMESTER


What’s happening
with your body I have questions about:

■ You begin to feel better ____________________________

and have more energy. ____________________________

■ You will continue gaining ____________________________


more weight. It is normal ____________________________
to gain 3 or 4 pounds a
____________________________
month.
____________________________
■ Your health care provider
may order special tests, ____________________________
like an ultrasound, to see ____________________________
how your baby is growing.
____________________________

____________________________
8
What’s happening
with your baby’s body
■ Your baby will begin to
move, stretch, and kick.
■ Its skeleton and muscles
grow stronger.
■ You hear its heart beat
during prenatal visits.
■ A healthy baby will weigh
about 2 pounds by the
end of the 2nd trimester.

THE 3rd TRIMESTER


What’s happening
with your body Your body during the 3rd trimester.
■ By the end of your 3rd
trimester, it is common
to have gained 25 to 35
pounds over the course
What’s happening
of your pregnancy
with your baby’s body
■ You may feel less
■ Around the 25th week, you
comfortable. Your back
will feel your baby move 10
may hurt.
or more times every hour!
■ You urinate more often.
■ About the 30th week, your
■ Toward the end of this baby will start getting into
trimester, your body will the birth position. Its head
practice contractions. will point down toward the
These are called Braxton birth canal.
Hicks contractions. ■ Your baby will gain most
■ You see your provider a of its weight during this
lot in the last few weeks. trimester. 9
SERIOUS Common Health Conditions
SCIENCE
If you have any health conditions, tell
Protect yourself your provider during your first prenatal
and your baby visit.
from germs
• Keep kitchen
surfaces clean.
Especially important are:
• Wash fruits and ■ Diabetes
vegetables.
■ Asthma
• Make sure your food is
cooked all the way ■ High blood pressure
through.
• Do not clean the
■ Depression
litter box. Cat feces
has bacteria that are
dangerous to pregnant STRESS
mothers. Your hormone levels change when you are
Smoking pregnant, and these changes can cause
If you smoke cigarettes or you to feel stressed. Stress can cause
marijuana, please stop.
Smoking, or being around
other problems, like high blood pressure.
someone who smokes, can Your provider can suggest ways to release
cause many serious health
problems for you and your
stress.
baby. Quitting can save
both of your lives.
If at any time during your pregnancy,
you do not feel well, call your health care
Alcohol and Drugs provider.
These can truly harm your
baby and cause serious
medical problems that will
Your symptoms may be normal, but it is
be with them for the rest important to be sure. Call your provider
of their lives. if you have any of these symptoms:
There are other diseases ■ Cramps or other abdominal pain
and illnesses that can be
harmful to pregnant ■ Vomiting or feeling sick to your
women and their babies. stomach
Some of them are:
• HIV/AIDS ■ Constant backache
• Rubella ■ Pressure in your pelvis
• Sexually transmitted
diseases (STDs)
■ Blood or other fluid leaking from your
• Sickle cell disease vagina
■ Pain when you urinate
10
■ Severe headaches or blurred vision SMART FOOD
■ Fever of 100˚F or more CHOICES
■ Hands or feet swell a lot Vitamin A
■ Dizziness • Cooked liver & giblets
• Greens (mustard, kale,
collard, leaf lettuce)
• Carrots, sweet pota-
I have questions about: toes, pumpkin
________________________________________ • Mango, cantaloupe,
apricots
________________________________________
Vitamin C
________________________________________ • Orange juice
________________________________________ • Peppers, tomatoes,
potatoes
________________________________________ • Strawberries
• Broccoli

Vitamins B6 & B12


• Eggs
Eating for Two •

Meat
Chicken
• Shellfish
• Nuts
Your baby eats what you eat, so try to eat • Dairy
healthy foods most of the time. If you eat
food that is not as healthy, like a piece of Vitamin D
• Dairy products
cake, choose a small piece and drink a • Fortified cereals
glass of low fat milk with it.
Folic acid
• Beans and peas
Be sure you eat: • Oranges & orange
juice
■ Protein, like meat and eggs, for • Deep green leafy
growing cells and making blood greens (spinach &
mustard greens)
■ Good carbohydrates, like whole grains,
Iron
fruits and vegetables, for energy • Fortified cereals
■ Calcium, like milk, cheese, and canned • Cooked liver & giblets
• Kidney beans
salmon, for strong bones, teeth, and • Spinach
muscles • Meat

■ Iron, like beans and meat, for making Do not use herbal
supplements or vitamins
red blood cells other than your prenatal
■ Good fats, like olive oil, for storing vitamins.

body energy 11
You need vitamins too.
■ Vitamin A for healthy skin, eyes, and bones
■ Vitamin C for healthy teeth and bones
■ Vitamins B6 and B12 for healthy blood and nervous system
■ Vitamin D for healthy bones
■ Folic acid for making blood and proteins (and preventing
birth defects.)

How many servings should you


eat every day?
■ Fruit: 4 servings
■ Vegetables: 5 servings
■ Grains: 6 servings
■ Meat and/or beans: 5 servings
■ Dairy: 3 cups
■ Oils: 6 teaspoons
■ Water: 6 to 8 glasses

How much is a serving? Here’s a quick way to measure: One


serving can fit in your palm.
Try to eat less sugar, salt, caffeine, and junk foods. Avoid soft
cheeses like brie.
Fish is generally healthy for you and your baby, but some types
contain high levels of mercury, which is dangerous. Do not eat
swordfish, tilefish, king mackerel, shark, grouper, marlin, or
orange roughy. Also, limit the amount of albacore tuna you con-
sume. If you have questions about the type of fish you
normally like to eat, talk to your provider.

12
Exercise
Exercise is another important part of
staying healthy during your pregnancy.
When you get regular exercise, your body
feels stronger and looks healthier. You
have more energy too. Plus, when you
are strong and healthy, your body is
better prepared for a healthy birth.

Exercise can also relieve stress.


Walking is a great exercise. So are swim- WHAT YOU
ming and yoga. Some women take CAN DO TO
exercise classes specially created for HAVE A
pregnant moms. HEALTHY
PREGNANCY
Even if you are very busy, a 15-minute
Take at least 400
walk every day can make a difference micrograms of folic
in how you feel. acid and a prenatal
vitamin every day.
Listen to your body and rest when it tells Eat a healthy diet.
you to. Remember: It’s working hard 24
hours a day to make a baby. Talk to your health
care provider about
your medical history.

Do not drink alcohol,


smoke, or use drugs.
Making Healthy Choices Use condoms during
sex.

Unhealthy habits can be hard to stop, and Get regular check-ups


healthy habits can be hard to start. But from your doctor and
dentist.
the pay-offs can be big. You feel better,
and your baby gets a good start in life. Exercise every day.
Answering these questions can help you
start making healthy choices.

13
What are some healthy foods I can eat every day?
_____________________________________________________
_____________________________________________________

What are some unhealthy foods I can stop eating?


_____________________________________________________
_____________________________________________________

If I smoke, what are three things I can do to help me to stop?


_____________________________________________________
_____________________________________________________

If I am using alcohol or drugs, what are three things I can do to


help me stop?
_____________________________________________________
_____________________________________________________

What do I know about my family’s health history?


_____________________________________________________
_____________________________________________________
_____________________________________________________

Am I taking any medications prescribed by any health care


professional or any medications, such as aspirin, that I buy off
the shelf at the store?
_____________________________________________________
14
_____________________________________________________
Preparing for Birth
A lot of changes happen in the 3rd trimester as your body
gets ready to give birth. The science of birth is that your body
automatically prepares itself for the delivery. Just as your body
prepares, you will also prepare by planning how you want your
baby to be born.

■ Where do you want to give birth?


■ Which family members do you want by your side during
labor?
■ What are your plans for pain relief during labor?
■ Do you want to work with a doula (doo-la)? A doula is
trained to give you and your family educational, emotional,
and physical support. She can attend your labor and birth.

These are important decisions you will want to discuss with


your provider in the last few weeks of your pregnancy. Your
body knows what to do. Now it is up to you, and the people
who support you, to create the kind of birthing experience
you want.

Think about what types of things make you feel comfortable


and well cared for. You may want to bring music, your own
pillows or photos to make you feel more comfortable away
from home.

The answers to these and other questions can help you decide
what is most important to you and how you can make sure
everyone listens and respects your wishes.

15
® Classes
Childbirth and Lamaze®

Lamaze or other childbirth classes can help new parents


prepare for birth
Giving birth for the first time can be scary, but childbirth classes
can reduce your fears.

■ You will learn about giving birth and what you can expect
during labor.
■ You will learn how to use your body’s strength and the pain
of childbirth to guide your baby into the world.
■ You will learn how breathing and movement can help you
during labor.
■ And you will learn how to bathe, feed, and diaper your baby.

16
For the last 40 weeks, you have
prepared for the next step in your
baby’s life.

You trusted the science. Now your


body is ready to do what it was
designed to do.

Afterwards, you will pass down the


wisdom you gained, just as those
before you have.

Your wisdom becomes your


community’s wisdom.

And your community thanks you.

PHOTO CREDITS:

Cover: PhotoDisc
Inside covers, 13: © 2007 JupiterImages Corporation
2, 3, 5: Fred P. Kenderson Photography
4: girlshealth.gov/U.S. Dept. of Health and Human
Services
7, 8, 9: LifeART image copyright (2007) Wolters Kluwer
Health, Inc.- Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.
All rights reserved.
16: Pete Barr-Watson
1200 New York Ave., NW
Washington, DC 20005
www.aaas.org