Finding out you’re pregnant can be super exciting, but there’s no doubt you’ll probably find you also have a lot of questions about it, too – especially in relation to you and your baby’s health.
Dr Philippa Kaye – MadeForMums favourite GP (read about Philippa on her dedicated website), caught up with us to talk about some of the most common health-related questions women come to her with when they first find out they’re pregnant.
Early pregnancy: Common questions for the doctor
- Shall I stop taking my medication?
If you are taking any medication you should definitely visit your doctor on finding out you’re pregnant – and do not stop taking your medicines without talking to your GP first.
“We have to weigh the risks and benefits of taking any medicine,” says Dr Philippa. A common medicine she mentions is antidepressants. You should not stop taking these suddenly, she says, as you can get a mental and physical withdrawal on doing so. Most are found to be safe in pregnancy anyway. But be sure to catch up with the doc if you’re taking these or anything else when you’re expecting.
2. Is it still OK to have sex when I’m pregnant?
Libidos can vary when you you’re pregnant – Dr Kaye points out that sex drives goes up for some women, while for others it falls straight through the floor.
Her advice? Go with what feels comfortable. Baby will be safe but you need to judge if you’re up for it before you do it.
3. Do I need vitamins?
The main vitamin you need to take when you’re pregnant is folic acid – which, as Dr Kaye points out, helps reduce neural tube defects. Vitamin D can be another you need if you’re housebound or always cover your skin when you’re out.
A vitamin to watch out for is Vitamin A, which you get in foods like liver and pate – and which can affect your baby’s eyesight.
If you miss your folic acid for 1 or 2 days, don’t worry too much, but it might be worth setting an alarm or putting them out somewhere you can see them to make sure you don’t miss out too often.
4. Can I drink alcohol?
Doctors don’t really agree on this – in the US they so don’t drink at all, but in the UK they generally say that 1 to 2 units of alcohol or week is fine, though some say you shouldn’t drink at all in the first 3 months.
Dr Philippa points out that heavy drinking can lead to severe disabilities and stresses that you should get help if you do have an issue with alcohol as it could seriously affect your unborn baby.
5. How much caffeine can I have?
As Dr Philippa points out, caffeine is in all brown drinks – from tea to coffee to hot chocolate and coca-cola. A couple of cups of coffee a day should be fine: switch to decaff if you’re worried – and do be aware that caffeine’s in things you might not have known about – like chocolate.
6. When should I tell work I’m pregnant?
There’s no legal obligation to tell people at work you’re pregnant straight away, but, says Dr Philippa, if you’re feeling rubbish, you might want to let 1 or 2 trusted colleagues know what’s going on.
If you are very unwell, you can take a week off work with no sick note needed – and if you’re seriously ill with pregnancy a doctor will sign you off – and that counts as sick leave and not maternity leave.
7. Why have I got bloating and cramping?
Even in early pregnancy you can experience bloating, stretching and cramping-type pains. Dr Philippa tells us this is normal. “The pregnancy hormones kick in fast,” she says.
If you start bleeding then you need to see a doctor – this doesn’t necessarily mean you are going to have a miscarriage but it’s worth seeing your GP to be on the safe side.
If you have severe constant pain you should go to A and E – as there is a risk it could be an ectopic pregnancy.