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During Pregnancy

The Journey Begins -- First Trimester

Conception – 15 weeks

In the first month of pregnancy, your baby is about one-half inch long. The circulatory system and other vital organs such as the heart, brain, lungs, eyes and ears have begun to form. By the end of the second month, all essential structures are in place, and the baby is about 1 inch long.

What You Do, Do For Two

A healthful lifestyle provides a solid foundation for your baby’s growth and development. This includes being seen regularly by a health care provider and taking care of yourself and your baby. It’s important to rest during the day. A 30-minute nap can do wonders for how you feel. As your abdomen grows, extra bed pillows can help support your back, tummy and hips.

Protect your baby as he or she grows by avoiding substances which can be harmful to your developing baby including:

  • Caffeine: If you can’t go completely caffeine-free, limit it to one or two caffeinated beverages a day.
  • Artificial sweeteners: If you must use them, aspartame (NutraSweet) is considered safer than saccharin. If you use aspartame, limit it to two to three servings per day.
  • Alcohol: All alcoholic beverages, including beer, wine and hard liquor, should be avoided. There is no “safe” amount of alcohol to consume while pregnant.
  • Medications: Avoid all over-the-counter and prescription medications, especially in your first three months. Talk with your health care provider if you regularly take any prescription or over-the-counter medications.
  • Cigarettes: When you smoke, your baby receives less oxygen, which may cause long-term problems for your baby. Remember, secondhand smoke also is dangerous.
  • Illegal drugs: Any quantity or type of illegal or “street” drug is very harmful.

Safety First

Provide the safest environment possible for your growing baby by keeping these safety tips in mind:

  • Avoid hot tubs, especially during the first three months of pregnancy since they can increase your body temperature and harm your developing baby.
  • Don’t handle cat litter because cat feces may contain a virus known as toxoplasmosis that can harm your baby.
  • Be careful when gardening or handling raw and undercooked meats because toxoplasmosis also can be found in gardens and in rare or undercooked meats. Use gloves when gardening. Wash your hands after handling raw meat, chicken or fish and cook until well done.
  • Wear your seatbelt. The shoulder belt should be snug across your shoulders and the lap belt low on your hips. As your abdomen grows, put the lap belt under your growing tummy.


Regular exercise can enhance your physical well-being during pregnancy, during labor and afterward. If you haven’t been exercising, try walking. Start slowly and build up to a goal of 30 minutes at least three times per week. Swimming also is an excellent form of exercise. Pay close attention to your body. Remember to drink plenty of fluids, stop if you become overheated or fatigued, start slowly and build up gradually. If you have been on a serious exercise program, be sure to talk with your health care provider about any adjustments you may need to make in your exercise routine. You should not exercise flat on your back after the third month of pregnancy.

How Are You Feeling?

Morning sickness such as nausea or vomiting is common in early pregnancy. Whether you feel sick in the morning or have symptoms all day and night, try these tips:

  • Eat a few dry crackers before you get out of bed.
  • Eat six small meals throughout the day.
  • Drink liquids between meals.
  • Avoid heavy, fried or greasy foods.
  • Call your health care provider if you can’t keep anything down or if you have dry, cracked lips, urine that is dark yellow, a fever or persistent dizziness.

Sexual Activity

Most women can continue lovemaking throughout their pregnancy. You may experience peaks and valleys in your desire depending on your fatigue level. After your third month, creative positioning is important. You should not lie flat on your back. Avoid heavy weight on your growing abdomen.

Where does the weight go?

On average:

7 lbs – maternal stores

4 lbs – increased fluid

4 lbs – increased blood

2 lbs – uterus

6 to 8 lbs – baby

2 lbs – amniotic fluid

1 lb – placenta

Call for Help

If you have any of these symptoms, call your healthcare provider:

  • Vaginal bleeding or spotting
  • Severe cramping
  • Vomiting more than three times a day

Feeding Your Baby

One important choice you will make is how you will feed your baby. Breastfeeding is the best feeding for baby, with lifelong health benefits for mother and baby. DeKalb Medical offers ongoing support for breastfeeding moms:

  • Breastfeeding Basics class to learn more before baby is born.
  • In-house Lactation Centerwith retail products.
  • Breastfeeding Warm Line for help after baby arrives (404.501.5787).
  • BABY TALK weekly breastfeeding support group facilitated by an international board-certified lactation consultant.

Some mothers may choose not to breastfeed. Your pediatrician can recommend the best formula. If you are unsure about infant feeding, dial 404.501.5787 and a DeKalb Medical lactation expert will be happy to talk with you.


The Journey Continues – Second Trimester

16 – 28 weeks

Your baby is starting to grow faster and you’ll begin to “look” pregnant. Your baby’s teeth, eyelids and eyelashes and arms and legs are developing in detail. You may feel the baby move for the first time. By the end of your fifth month, your baby is about 10 inches long.

Caring for You, and Baby Too

Maintaining a nutritious, well-balanced diet is important. Remember to drink at least eight glasses of water each day. Because your baby’s brain is growing and developing rapidly, you need to eat high protein foods daily – three servings or 6 ounces. Your baby is building up iron stores and your body needs iron to maintain normal hemoglobin. Be sure to eat iron-rich foods including green leafy vegetables, most breakfast cereals, red meat, raisins and blackstrap molasses.

Travel During Pregnancy

Unless your health care provider advises otherwise, it is safe to travel until the 28th week of pregnancy. Be sure you drink plenty of water while traveling. For car and air travel, stretch every two hours, walk and empty your bladder. Wear your seatbelt low on your hips and below your expanding tummy. Discuss travel after your 28th week with your health care provider.

Call for Help

You can help prevent premature birth by recognizing the warning signs and physical symptoms of preterm labor. If you have any of these symptoms, call your healthcare provider:

  • Vaginal bleeding or spotting
  • Cramping
  • Lower back pain that comes and goes
  • Pelvic pressure
  • Leaking of vaginal fluid
  • Vaginal discharge with unpleasant odor
  • Burning sensation with urination

Pick a Pediatrician

You need to select a pediatrician for your baby. This doctor will see your newborn in the hospital and then provide ongoing care for your child. It’s best to select a pediatrician by your 30th week of pregnancy. If you need help finding a pediatrician, call DeKalb Medical’s free physician referral service at 404.501.WELL or read more about finding a physician. Many pediatricians’ offices have ‘get to know us’ meetings to help you decide on your baby’s doctor. You may want to consider:

  • How the office handles questions.
  • Whether a lactation specialist is on staff.
  • Whether separate waiting rooms are available for well children and sick children.
  • Whether special sick hours are available.
  • How after-hours phone calls are handled.
  • Whether the doctor is on your insurance plan.

You also need to start thinking about how you want to parent your baby. As you select the pediatrician for your baby, ask him or her for any recommendations on parenting books or websites.

Baby’s Movement

A developing baby’s sleep-wake cycle can range from 20 minutes to two hours. You will typically feel your baby move sometime between your 16th and 20th week of pregnancy. Movement will increase and become more noticeable as your pregnancy progresses. Soon family members will be able to feel those kicks and wiggles. Baby’s movement will continue throughout your pregnancy, although movement may be less noticeable in the last few weeks. If you notice a decrease in baby’s movement, call your health care provider immediately. The baby’s position along with the mother’s blood sugar level, occupation and eating habits as well as light, sound and physical stimulus to the uterus can affect fetal movement. Each baby has a different movement rhythm.

Aches and Pains

Many women may experience pain in their joints and muscles during pregnancy. DeKalb Medical offers Rehabilitation Solutions for Women, a group of physical therapists who specialize in relieving pain during pregnancy. If you are experiencing pregnancy-related aches and pains, talk with your health care provider to see if this is right for you.


Although some medications are allowed in the second trimester of pregnancy, you still may want to ask your health care provider about taking any prescription and over-the-counter medications.


Many women experience more vivid dreams during the last half of pregnancy. If what you are dreaming about is worrying you, talk with your health care provider.

The Journey is Almost Complete – Third Trimester

29 – 40 weeks

From seven to nine months, you’ll gain the most weight while your baby is growing incredibly fast. In your eighth month, your baby weighs about 4 pounds and is about 17 inches long. The baby’s bones and nails are hardening and wrinkles disappear as fat begins depositing under the skin. At full term, the average baby weighs 6 to 8 pounds and is about 19 to 20 inches long. DeKalb Medical offers classes to help parents know what to expect, prepare for the arrival and be ready for the baby at home. Read more here about these classes or call us at 404.501.WELL.

Be sure you’ve scheduled your tour of DeKalb Medical’s Women’s Center. all 404.501.WELL. You’ll learn:

  • Where to park.
  • Where to check in.
  • More about birthing options.
  • How to pre-register for admission, which minimizes delays and makes your admission when you are in labor quick and trouble-free. Be sure to bring a photo ID and insurance card for pre-admission.

If you can’t come for a tour, please call 404.501.1389 to make arrangements for pre-registration.

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