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Pregnancy 101

Find out what to expect and how to stay healthy when you're pregnant.

Questions

1. Do I need to take folic acid?

2. Will I weigh more after my baby's born than I did before I got pregnant?

3. Can I continue working during my pregnancy?

4. Can I have sexual intercourse during my pregnancy?

5. How can I relieve "morning sickness"?

6. How do I know if I'm going into labor too soon?

7. What do contractions feel like?

8. How do I know that my contractions are the real thing?

9. Where can I go to learn more?

Answers

1. Do I need to take folic acid?

Yes. The March of Dimes recommends that all women of childbearing age, even if they're not planning to get pregnant, take a multivitamin that includes 400 micrograms of folic acid every day. Folic acid helps prevent serious defects in your baby's brain and spinal cord.

Folic acid is especially important just before pregnancy and in the first trimester of pregnancy, as the neural tube (the precursor to the brain and spinal cord) is formed in the earliest weeks of pregnancy. 

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2. Will I weigh more after my baby's born than I did before I got pregnant?

It's healthy to gain some weight during pregnancy—about 25 to 35 pounds if you're carrying one child and were at a normal weight before pregnancy, according to the March of Dimes. Your healthcare provider may recommend that you gain less weight if you were overweight or obese before pregnancy (or a little more weight if you were underweight before pregnancy).

This weight should not be too difficult to lose after your baby is born, provided you get regular exercise during and after your pregnancy and choose a healthy diet. Breastfeeding also helps women lose weight after pregnancy.

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3. Can I continue working during my pregnancy?

It's safe to work until the onset of labor if you're having a healthy pregnancy and your job presents no greater potential hazards than those of normal life, according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG).

Consider working fewer hours or changing duties if your job involves strenuous activity, constant standing or exposure to anything that could harm your baby.

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4. Can I have sexual intercourse during my pregnancy?

As long as it's not uncomfortable, it's fine to have sex during pregnancy, according to ACOG.

But if you have a history of miscarriage or preterm birth, an infection or any bleeding, your doctor may recommend limiting or avoiding sex.

Definitely don't have sex if your water has broken (the amniotic sack has ruptured) or you're leaking any fluid.

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5. How can I relieve "morning sickness"?

Nausea during pregnancy is often caused by hormones and can occur at any time during the day, especially when the stomach is empty.

To ease nausea:

  • Have frequent, small meals.
  • Eat carbohydrates, such as plain pasta, crackers, potatoes, rice, fruit and vegetables.
  • Limit fried, fatty and spicy foods.
  • Avoid unpleasant odors when possible.
  • Eat a snack, such as crackers and a glass of milk, before going to bed and first thing in the morning.
  • Drink beverages between, rather than with, your meals.

Talk to your doctor if you vomit more than twice a day.

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6. How do I know if I'm going into labor too soon?

Labor is considered preterm if it starts before the 37th week of pregnancy. Symptoms can include a low, dull backache; pelvic pressure; contractions or cramps; blood-tinged vaginal discharge; or a gush of clear, watery fluid from the vagina. If you think you may be starting preterm labor, call your doctor. Sometimes preterm labor can be slowed or stopped.

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7. What do contractions feel like?

Contractions are the regular tightening and relaxing of your uterus and may feel like menstrual cramps or a bad backache.

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8. How do I know my contractions are the real thing?

If your contractions come at regular intervals, last about 30 to 90 seconds, and get closer together, you're probably going into labor.

False labor pains (called Braxton-Hicks contractions) are often irregular; do not consistently get closer together; and may stop when you change positions, walk or rest. Braxton-Hicks contractions may occur in the last several weeks of your pregnancy.

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9. Where can I go to learn more?

To learn more about pregnancy, visit the Pregnancy health topic center. You can also read more about pregnancy at these websites:

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reviewed 2/11/2020

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