woman who is pregnant

Your Top Pregnancy Questions Answered

dr. aimee vanstraaten
By Aimee VanStraaten, MD, FACOG St. Luke's Obstetrics & Gynecology Associates
About the Author:
My philosophy in prenatal care is to work as a partner with my patients to help educate them in making the best choices for their pregnancy care.

Tackling the most common questions from moms-to-be

If you’ve got pregnancy on your mind, you’ve also probably got a few questions (or a lot of questions!). While every experience is unique at St. Luke’s Obstetrics & Gynecology and St. Luke’s Birthing Center, I find that expectant moms are often wondering about a lot of the same things. Below are the top questions and how I typically answer them.


  1. What foods can I eat and what should I avoid?

It’s important to have a well-rounded diet, so feel free to enjoy a wide variety of healthy foods. However some foods can contain bacteria that are harmful to pregnant women, so it’s best to avoid the following:

  • Raw fish
  • Deli meats that aren’t cooked
  • Unpasteurized cheeses

Other foods should be enjoyed in moderation while pregnant, including:

  • Caffeine (try to drink less than 1 cup of coffee a day or cut out altogether, if possible)
  • Cooked fish

Overall, fish is a really healthy protein. It contains helpful omega-3 fatty acids and can be a great thing for pregnant women. However, the type of fish and how often you eat it are both important to consider. Bigger kinds of fish usually have more toxins than smaller fish, and fish from some local lakes can have higher mercury levels than others. This Minnesota Department of Health resource is a great way to learn more.


  1. When is the first ultrasound? Or, when can I find out the gender of my baby?

At your 8-week appointment we’ll do an ultrasound to confirm your due date. During this appointment, you’ll get a chance to see your baby, and his or her heartbeat.

Your 20- to 22-week appointment will include an anatomy ultrasound. This is when you can find out the sex of your baby, if you want to know before they’re born. We also offer genetic screening in the first trimester that includes gender determination if you’d like to know sooner.


  1. Do I need to worry about sleeping on my back?

It’s recommended that a pregnant mom sleep on her side instead of flat on her back. However, this isn’t too much of an issue until about 20 weeks. This is because then the heavy, pregnant uterus can push on blood vessels, potentially limiting the blood flow to baby. Some women get scared if they wake up on their back, but try not to worry! If it’s affecting you or the baby you’ll often feel nauseous or sweaty. If you ever have questions, you can always call your provider.


  1. What can I do for morning sickness or nausea?

Here are some things you can do to help with nausea:

  • Eat small snacks of bland food.
  • Stay hydrated! Take small sips of water when you’re feeling nauseous.
  • Ginger is a great natural way to decrease nausea. Try sipping ginger ale or sucking on ginger hard candies.
  • If you’re still feeling nauseous, you can also take Vitamin B6 daily or half a tablet of Doxylamine (Unisom) at bedtime.
  • If your nausea is really bad, your healthcare provider can give you a prescription to help manage it.


  1. What can I do for constipation?

A lot of newly pregnant women can get pretty constipated. A hormone in your body called progesterone increases in early pregnancy and acts as a muscle relaxant. This keeps the digestive process from moving as it usually does. You can do a few things to counter this:

  • Increase your fluid intake.
  • Add more fiber to your diet (dried fruits or prune juice, high-fiber muffins, cereals or supplements).
  • Take an over-the-counter stool softener (Senna or Colace are lighter-duty, Miralax is a stronger option).
  • Try taking a prenatal vitamin that doesn’t contain iron.


Speaking of vitamins, women sometimes ask when to start prenatal vitamins. My answer is always: It’s never too early. You should start a few months before trying to get pregnant. Folic acid is especially important, so make sure that’s included in the brand you choose.


  1. Should I get a flu shot?

    It is safe to get the flu vaccine at any time during pregnancy and it is strongly recommended.


Answers for your other questions

If you still have a lot of other questions, that is totally normal! Finding an OB-GYN, certified nurse midwife (CNM), primary care provider or family doctor you trust and connect with is an important part of any pregnancy, and they will be able to help. Any of these medical professionals can field your ongoing questions and be with you every step of the way on your journey to motherhood. If you haven’t established care yet, learn more about our team of providers at St. Luke’s.

To make an appointment with Dr. Aimee VanStraaten


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