13 Things Your OB/GYN Wants To Tell You When You’re Pregnant — But Won’t

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  1. Mahmoud Abudeif

    Mahmoud Abudeif Golden Member

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    It may be your first time having a baby, but your OB/GYN has likely helped dozens of expecting parents welcome newborns into their lives. That makes them an incredible resource on how to have the best birth and postpartum experience possible.

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    But ask them for their advice and you may find them holding back now and then. Why? There is a huge difference between their professional and personal opinions.

    Fortunately, we got a few OB/GYNs to be candid about what they’d really love to tell pregnant women — but won’t. Here are their top — completely unfiltered and utterly frank — tips.

    1. You don’t have to listen to those pregnancy horror stories

    As soon as you get pregnant, it seems as if everyone has a horror story to share with you — one that usually involves the delivery room. "Oh, I have to tell you about my second cousin, Darla, who lost her toe while delivering her son."

    Or sometimes, it's a story about what happens after birth: "Oh, my aunt knew a woman who vomited for 19 months straight after giving birth."

    Here’s the thing: you do not have to listen to them. “Walk away from people who want to tell you pregnancy horror stories,” says Dr. Octavia Cannon, an OB/GYN at Arboretum Obstetrics & Gynecology in Charlotte, North Carolina. They are not helpful, she stresses.

    2. There's no such thing as a crazy question

    Worried about asking your doctor what happened to your sex life now that you're pregnant — or what that totally weird discharge was about? Don't be.

    There's no such thing as a pregnancy question that's off-limits, says Dr. Sarah Yamaguchi, an OB/GYN at Good Samaritan Hospital in Los Angeles, California.

    “A pregnant woman’s body does crazy things and I wish my patients were more open about asking when they have problems that are embarrassing,” she says. “Being pregnant is stressful enough. It’s better to ask about something you think is abnormal instead of dwelling on it.”

    3. The timing of your pregnancy announcement is completely up to you

    Another way to cut down on the obnoxious things people sometimes say when you’re pregnant? Delay your announcement (especially if you’re concerned about it).

    “Don’t open yourself to negativity,” Dr. Cannon says, adding there are no rules as to when you have to share your good news. Whether you want to tell the world at 4 months or 4 weeks, it's your call.

    4. Don't pay attention to what people say about your baby bump

    Are your friends constantly commenting about "how big you're getting"? Are your relatives gawking at your growing belly? (Or "complimenting" you on your teeny-tiny baby bump?)

    They probably don't mean any harm. More likely, says Dr. James Greenberg, chief of gynecology at Brigham and Women's Faulkner Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts, they're just fumbling for something to say.

    "Most people really don't mean anything by their comments — they're just looking for something pregnancy-appropriate to say," says Dr. Greenberg, a member of the What to Expect Medical Review Board. "It's like seeing a friend with a new hairstyle. You can't ignore it, so you have to comment on it just to be polite."

    5. You don't have to swear off beauty products during pregnancy

    There is so much information — and misinformation — about using beauty products during pregnancy. Dr. Sherry Ross, an OB/GYN at Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, California, says don’t sweat it.

    "When you use hair dye or hair-coloring preparations, a small amount of dye can penetrate the skin of the scalp but there is no harm to a developing baby," she explains. "Most researchers agree it is unlikely that use of hair products before or during pregnancy would increase risk of any problems to an unborn baby."

    6. You really should consider wearing support hose when you’re pregnant

    Sure, support hose aren’t pretty. But compression stockings really can work wonders in preventing varicose veins during pregnancy, which is why Dr. Ross wishes more expecting mamas would wear them from the get-go — even if they don’t have any signs of needing them just yet.

    And if you already have varicose veins, try not to worry. “The good news is varicose veins will go away or become less noticeable once you have given birth,” she explains. “Knowing varicose veins will improve after pregnancy makes them a lot less scary.”

    7. You need to avoid secondhand smoke (yes, it still counts)

    You may not be a smoker, so you may not be concerned about smoke harming your baby. But Dr. Cannon points out that secondhand smoke (when someone around you is smoking) can also pose a threat.

    Not only is it harmful to smoke cigarettes and use e-cigarettes (i.e. vaping) or marijuana, but cigars and pipes are potentially even more harmful because they aren’t inhaled and release greater amounts of smoke into the air. So if your partner or others around you do smoke, stay away and ask them not to do it around you.

    Same goes for after you give birth, too: “It can also make a newborn or infant more susceptible to asthma and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS),” says Dr. Cannon.

    8. It’s exciting to see your little bundle of joy, but there’s no reason for most women to get too many ultrasounds

    For moms-to-be, ultrasounds are often the most exciting thing to happen at your OB/GYN visits. Not only do you get to see your baby, but there’s some peace of mind knowing he’s safe and healthy inside that beautiful bump.

    But Dr. Cannon warns that any medical tests, including ultrasounds, should be cleared by your OB/GYN during your pregnancy.

    While ultrasounds are generally considered safe, it’s best to only receive them as prescribed and by a licensed professional — and not, for example, a person at your local prenatal portrait center — who can also be on hand to detect any potential problems.

    9. Pregnancy is not an illness

    Pregnancy can certainly be a physically challenging time in a woman’s life and it can look different for every mom-to-be, but Dr. Yamaguchi says she sees too many view it as a barrier to physical work or exercise.

    “Pregnancy takes a large physical and mental toll on your body so you will likely not be able to exercise as much or as rigorously and you will likely need more sleep,” she explains.

    But moderation is key, which means not changing your lifestyle too much and listening to your body.

    10. You need a pediatrician while you’re still pregnant

    In the first few hours of your baby’s life, you will already need to make medical decisions for your newborn. Yet not all moms-to-be get prepped ahead of time for these choices.

    One way to change that? Pick your child’s pediatrician before you give birth.

    “Start looking for a pediatrician at 28 to 32 weeks,” Dr. Cannon suggests. “Many doctors will offer a meet-and-greet appointment for 10 to 20 minutes while you are still pregnant.”

    11. Your birth plan might change

    Do you have your heart set on a water birth or are you dead-set against being induced or having a C-section? Try not to be disappointed if your birth plan doesn't happen exactly as, well, planned.

    "Obstetrics don't necessarily control what happens in labor — your baby and uterus do," says Dr. Kameelah Phillips, an OB/GYN and the founder of Calla Women's Health in New York City, as well as a member of the What to Expect Medical Review Board.

    "I fully expect [my patients] to have a vaginal delivery," she continues. "But labor can be unpredictable."

    One example: If your labor stalls or the baby is showing signs of distress, your doctor may decide to do a C-section instead.

    It's always good to have a birth plan in place, but keep in mind that what seemed best a week ago may not be best during delivery.

    12. Don't worry about pooping during labor

    Most women do poop during labor (especially as the baby crowns) — and your delivery team, who are more than used to it, won't bat an eye.

    But if you're afraid of having a bowel movement during labor, and you suspect that you won't be able to push, you can ask your doctor for an enema early in labor, says Dr. Jennifer Wu, an OB/GYN at Women's Health of Manhattan in New York, New York, and a member of the What to Expect Medical Review Board.

    "When you've finally made it to fully dilated, we want you to be able to push whole-heartedly," she says.

    13. It’s what happens after the birth that counts the most

    You’ve been counting down the days, attending classes, creating a birth plan and packing your hospital bag. It’s such an exciting time, and of course you want to be prepared.

    But Dr. Yamaguchi says she sees too many parents focusing only on giving birth and not what happens afterward.

    “If you have spent all your time thinking about [your labor] and not how you are going to manage the feeding schedule and laundry, etc., then you may find yourself having to scramble to figure things out,” she explains.

    And while there's plenty of "learning on the job" and things you can't plan for, there are some aspects you can think and talk through before your baby's arrival. So go on, make some lists and have some talks. There's no time like the present!

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