Pregnancy FAQs


Congratulations! This can be such a wonderful time in your life, but it can also be a time full of questions. Valley Women's Health is here to help. We want to give you as much or as little information as you want/need. Take advantage of our "Learn" page to find the answers that fit your questions. Use the search bar at the top of this page to search the topics you are interested in.

We'll help you through each step of the process. We'll teach you how to prepare for a healthy pregnancy and what's involved in your prenatal care. We'll inform you about the development of your fetus, common symptoms of pregnancy, illnesses during pregnancy, which immunizations we offer during pregnancy and which medications you can take during pregnancy. Ever wonder what activities you should or shouldn't be doing during pregnancy? We can help with that too.  We will also give you some warning signs you can look for issues that may occur during your pregnancy. We'll also cover prenatal testing, what is it and why do we do it? We'll review for you complications that can occur in pregnancy, how to manage your postpartum care (after the baby comes) and provide you with breastfeeding support. We will provide you with hospital information such as where to go to preregister and when to go to the hospital and labor options.

What to expect: First Trimester

The first trimester of pregnancy begins on the first day of your last period and continues until the end of week 12. This means by the time you are sure you are pregnant, you may already be five or six weeks along! A lot happens during the first three months of pregnancy, and your tiny baby will grow and develop rapidly during this time. You will also experience hormonal, emotional and physical changes. This can be difficult because while you may not look pregnant, you will likely feel pregnant, so now is the time to get plenty of rest and establish habits that will help you throughout the duration of your pregnancy.

Your baby is growing and developing rapidly. While you will be unaware of any of these changes, early ultrasounds show just how active and developed your little one becomes in the first few months!

Baby Growth:


  • The dividing fertilized egg moves down the Fallopian tube toward the uterus.
  • At about 5 days after fertilization, the cluster of dividing cells enters the uterus.
  • At about 8–9 days after fertilization, the cluster of cells (now called a blastocyst) attaches to the lining of the uterus.


  • The placenta begins to form.
  • The brain and spinal cord begin to form.
  • The tissues that will form the heart begin to beat.
  • The heartbeat can be detected during an ultrasound exam at about 6 weeks of pregnancy.
  • Buds for limbs appear with paddle-like hands and feet.
  • The eyes, ears, and nose begin to develop.
  • Eyelids form but remain closed.
  • The genitals begin to develop.
  • By the end of the eighth week, all major organs and body systems have begun to develop.


  • Buds for future teeth appear.
  • Fingers and toes start to form.
  • Soft nails begin to form.
  • Bones and muscles begin to grow.
  • The intestines begin to form.
  • The backbone is soft and can flex.
  • The hands are more developed than the feet.
  • The arms are longer than the legs.

The most common ailment of pregnancy is morning sickness– which is nausea, and sometimes vomiting. It usually occurs within 2-5 weeks of conception and in most cases clears up by 12-16 weeks. You can click HERE for a more comprehensive look at how to manage your morning sickness symptoms.

Mild cramping and spotting is common during this stage. Bleeding that is heavy or more like a period may be a sign of miscarriage, so please contact us if this is something you experience.

Fatigue is a common complaint during early and late pregnancy. Increased rest and fluids can be helpful, so make sure you are listening to your body.

Breast tenderness is common and may last the entire pregnancy. A bra with good support helps. Some women will have a clear, milky discharge from their nipples and may need to use nursing pads to protect their clothing.

Changes in hormone levels, adjusting to pregnancy, and anticipating caring for a new baby can cause some stress and emotional instability. Communicate your feelings with supportive friends and family, and please be sure to discuss this with your provider and/or nurse if you are concerned your feelings may be more severe or interfere with your ability to function.

Blood type and RH testing: Your blood type will be tested during your first trimester. If you have Rh-negative blood, and the baby’s father has Rh-positive blood (or unknown type) your doctor may prescribe an Rho(D) immune globulin injection for you called RhoGAM. This injection can prevent a disease called Rh-induced hemolytic disease which can harm the fetus you’re carrying and any other fetus you may conceive. It occurs when your Rh factor is incompatible with your baby’s, causing your body’s immune system to view the fetus’s blood cells as harmful invaders and build antibodies to attack them. The disease’s effects on a fetus or newborn can be mild or serious, ranging from mild anemia and jaundice to mental retardation and death.

Complete Blood Count (CBC): A complete blood count test identifies the numbers of different types of cells that make up your blood. The number of red blood cells can show whether you have a certain type of anemia, and the number of white blood cells shows how many disease-fighting cells are in your blood. The number of platelets can reveal whether you have a problem with blood clotting.

Syphilis, Chlamydia, Gonorrhea: All pregnant women are tested for syphilis and chlamydia early in pregnancy. Syphilis and chlamydia can cause complications for you and can cause severe problems for your baby. If you have either of these sexually transmitted infections (STIs), you will be treated immediately with antibiotics and then retested to make sure the infection has been cleared. If you have certain risk factors, you will also be tested for gonorrhea, and treated with antibiotics if you have been infected.

Rubella: Rubella (sometimes called German measles) can cause birth defects if a woman is infected during pregnancy. Your blood will be tested to check whether you have had a past infection with rubella or if you have already been vaccinated against this disease. Rubella is very rare in the United States, so your chances of infection are very low, but infection could be devastating for your baby’s health, so it is important to know your immunization status and to take proper precautions if you are not already immune.

Hepatitis B: Hepatitis B is a highly contagious virus that affects the liver. Some people are carriers without knowing, so a blood test during your first prenatal visit will determine your status. If you are a carrier or have an active infection, you can pass the virus to your baby at birth. If you test positive for hepatitis B, your baby will be treated with HBV antibodies, and the HBV vaccine within the first 12 hours of birth which will protect him from becoming infected.

HIV: If a pregnant woman is infected with HIV, there is a chance she can pass the virus to her baby. HIV attacks cells of the body’s immune system and causes acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS). If you are pregnant and infected with HIV, you can be given medication and take other steps that can greatly reduce the risk of passing it to your baby.

Cystic Fibrosis: Cystic Fibrosis is a disease that affects a person’s lungs and digestive processes. It can severely affect a person’s health and greatly shortens the lifespan of individuals with the disorder. CF is a genetic disease and requires both parents to be carriers of the CF gene in order for their baby to be affected. If both parents are carriers, there is a 1 in 4 chance your baby will be born with the disease.

1st Serum Integrated Test: The Serum Integrated Test helps determine the risk of having a pregnancy affected by Down syndrome and Open Neural Tube Defects (ONTD). The test is performed in two stages. The first stage can be performed between 11 weeks and 13 weeks and 6 days. In the first test, an ultrasound scan is used to precisely determine the gestational age of the pregnancy (to ensure that testing is being performed at the proper time.)  A blood sample is taken to measure the level of pregnancy-associated plasma protein-A (PAPP-A). The second test is needed to draw any conclusions, but will not be performed until 15-22 weeks if the first test was positive.

Rhogam For Rh Negative Blood Type

Testing For Genetic Disorders 

What to expect: Second Trimester

The second trimester spans from 13 weeks to week 27. It is commonly known as the “honeymoon period” of pregnancy, where you can typically expect nausea to subside, hormones to level out, and an increase in energy. Your pregnancy will begin to “show” without limiting your movement or making you uncomfortable as it will in your third trimester, and you will begin to feel those first magical baby kicks! You can learn more about what to expect during the second trimester in the following links:

Your baby is growing and developing rapidly! During the second trimester, you will begin to feel your baby’s first movements, known as “quickening.” Throughout these weeks those tiny movements will develop into full kicks and jabs! You will also be able to learn the gender of your baby, and other important information during your Anatomy Ultrasound. Here is an outline of how you can expect your baby to develop week by week.


  • Eyebrows, eyelashes, and fingernails form.
  • Arms and legs can extend.
  • External sex organs are formed.
  • The placenta is fully formed.
  • The fetus can swallow and hear.
  • The outer ear begins to develop.
  • The neck is formed.
  • Kidneys are functioning and begin to produce urine.
  • In male fetuses, the testicles begin to descend from the abdomen.  ‘
  • Genitals become either male or female at week 14.


  • The sucking reflex develops.
  • If the hand gets to the mouth, the fetus may suck his or her thumb.
  • The skin is wrinkled, and the body is covered with a waxy coating (vernix) and thin hair (lanugo)  The fetus is more active.
  • You may be able to feel him or her move.
  • The fetus sleeps and wakes regularly.
  • Nails grow to the tips of the fingers.
  • The gallbladder begins producing bile, which is needed to digest nutrients.
  • In female fetuses, the eggs have formed in the ovaries.
  • It may be possible to tell the sex of the baby on an ultrasound exam.


  • Real hair begins to grow.
  • The brain is rapidly developing.
  • The eyes begin to open.
  • Finger and toe prints can be seen.
  • The lungs are fully formed but not yet functioning.

Dr. Astle enjoys his family, loves art and music, and loves to travel. He also enjoys riding horses, gardening, hiking and biking.

Typically, many of the unpleasant side effects of early pregnancy will have subsided or lessened by this point. The worst of your morning sickness will likely be over, and you may experience an increase in energy. Some women start to develop leg cramps or sleep problems, and your growing abdomen may make some physical activities more difficult.

Preterm Labor Warning Signs 

Regular uterine contractions that are changing the cervix and occur before 37 weeks gestation are considered preterm labor. If you are having frequent contractions that are increasing in strength and are 5 minutes apart or less, please go directly to Labor and Delivery at the hospital to be monitored and evaluated. If it is preterm labor, there are medications and measures that can be taken to prolong a delivery so that your baby can develop in the womb for as long as possible.

Second Serum Integrated Screen: If your first trimester test came back positive, you will be given the option to take a second serum integrated screen test. A second blood sample is taken to measure the levels of four markers:

  • Alpha-fetoprotein (AFP)
  • Total beta-human chorionic gonadotropin (total ß-hCG)
  • Unconjugated Estriol (uE3)
  • Inhibin-A

In pregnancies affected by Down syndrome, the levels of PAPP-A, AFP, and uE3 tend to be lower than normal while the levels of inhibin and total ß-hCG are elevated. In a pregnancy affected by other conditions such as open spina bifida or anencephaly, the level of AFP tends to be elevated. A positive integrated test is not conclusive, but does provides a Down syndrome risk estimate for your pregnancy, and indicates that further testing should be done.

Glucose challenge test: At 24-28 weeks you will be tested for gestational diabetes. Your doctor will have you drink a glucose liquid and then draw your blood an hour later. If high levels of sugar are detected in the blood, it’s an indication that your body isn’t processing sugar effectively and you may need a glucose tolerance test to confirm whether or not you have gestational diabetes.

Glucose Tolerance test: This test is offered to women with a high risk of gestational diabetes. It’s similar to the earlier screening, except you’re asked to eat a certain amount of carbohydrates days before and fast for eight to 14 hours before your test. Blood will be drawn several times: the first time to provide a base-level reading of sugar levels, and then over the course of the next few hours to get a read on how your body processes sugar over time. If you test positive for gestational diabetes, your doctor will provide lifestyle adjustments, such as a high-protein diet and exercise regimen.

What to expect: Third Trimester

Welcome to the home stretch! You may begin to notice Braxton Hicks Contractions at this point. These are “preparatory” intermittent contractions of your abdomen. Your baby will reach full term over the next few weeks and you will likely experience some physical discomfort. These final months are an important time to prepare physically and mentally for your baby’s arrival. Make sure to get plenty of rest and make all necessary preparations to welcome your baby into a peaceful environment. This strong drive to prepare your home for your baby is called, “nesting.” Take advantage of this burst of energy and motivation and savor your last few weeks of pregnancy!

Your baby will grow to full term during the third trimester! All of his or her major development will be complete in preparation for delivery.


The eyes can open and close and sense changes in light.

Lanugo begins to disappear.

The fetus kicks and stretches.

The fetus can make grasping motions and responds to sound.

Lung cells begin to make surfactant.


With its major development finished, the fetus gains weight very quickly.

Bones harden, but the skull remains soft and flexible for delivery.

The different regions of the brain are forming.

Taste buds develop, and the fetus can taste sweet and sour.

The fetus may now hiccup.


The fetus usually stays in a head-down position in preparation for birth.

The brain continues to develop.

The skin is less wrinkled.

The lungs are maturing and getting ready to function outside the uterus.

Sleeping patterns develop.


The fetus drops lower into the pelvis.

More fat accumulates, especially around the elbows, knees, and shoulders.

The fetus gains about 1/2 pound per week during this last month of pregnancy.

Most of the physical discomforts of the third trimester are caused by how large your baby and abdomen will become. As the space in your abdomen is quite full at this point, breathing may be more difficult, as well as changing positions.

As the baby puts more pressure on your bladder, you may need to urinate more. Your baby’s kicks and jabs may also cause you some discomfort and you may notice you are retaining more water in your hands, feet and face.

Hemorrhoids are common during this third trimester of pregnancy.

Group B Strep Test: This test is done at approximately 35-37 weeks and screens for group B streptococcus, a bacteria present in about 25 percent of women. The bacteria is harmless to the mother, but is very aggressive in newborns and can lead to serious infection or death if passed to your baby during delivery. If you test positive for group B strep you will be given antibiotics during labor.

Labor and Delivery

Waiting for labor to begin is a time filled with anticipation and questions. Many of these questions revolve around practical subjects like the labor and delivery process, or what to expect from your hospital stay. Here we’ve compiled a list of information to help you feel confident and informed in your last weeks of preparation before your baby arrives.

Postpartum Period

Having a newborn causes a lot of physical and emotional changes in one’s life. The secret to weathering this change is to allow yourself plenty of time to rest and adjust to your new role as a parent. You will probably have questions as you bond with this new little one. Most concerns about your baby should be addressed by your pediatrician, but we are happy to continue to care for you during the postpartum period (the weeks after delivery). Please contact our nurses with any questions you may have, or check out the following links:

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