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Doneen Hollingsworth, Secretary of Health

Expecting a Baby?


Am I really pregnant?
If I have a positive home pregnancy test do I still need to see a health care provider?
What should I do to improve my chance of having a healthy baby?

Am I really pregnant?

Many different signs could mean you might be pregnant:

  • A change in your monthly period or no period: Some women have no period after getting pregnant. Others have a period that lasts fewer days or the flow may be less.
  • Nausea and vomiting: About half of pregnant women have no nausea while the other half complain of varying degrees of nausea. About one third of those with nausea also have vomiting, usually early in pregnancy and lessening in about 6 to 8 weeks.
  • The need to urinate often: This is due to hormone changes caused by the pregnancy and the growing uterus stretching the base of the bladder. This lessens until late in the pregnancy when the weight of the baby presses on the bladder.
  • Breast changes: Increased feelings of weight, tenderness, and fullness in the breasts experienced before menstrual periods are also an early sign of pregnancy. Early in pregnancy, the breasts become larger, firmer, and more tender. The pigmented area around the nipple becomes darker and may be puffy

You could have none of these symptoms or all of them. If you think you might be pregnant, see your health care provider to confirm the pregnancy so any health risks can be identified and addressed to improve your chance of having a healthy baby.

If I have a positive home pregnancy test do I still need to see a health care provider?

Although a positive home pregnancy tests is a strong sign you are pregnant, you still need to see a health care provider to confirm your pregnancy. Your health care provider will evaluate your medical history and his/her findings from a physical examination to determine if you are at increased risk for problems during your pregnancy. Your provider will also help your make behavior changes to improve your health and your chance of having a healthy baby. Your first visit to a health care provider should be before you are 12 weeks pregnant or as soon as you think you might be pregnant.

What should I do to improve my chance of having a healthy baby?

Take folic acid, a naturally occurring B vitamin that helps prevent birth defects of the neural tube (the baby's brain and spinal cord). The best way to get enough folic acid is to take a multivitamin with 400 micrograms of folic acid and eat a healthy diet. Most multivitamins have this amount, but check the label to be sure. — Folate: A Little Makes a Big Difference

Consider taking a multivitamin to supplement your diet. Because each woman's nutritional needs are different depending on health history and other individual factors, discuss with your doctor what you should take and how often you should take it. Vitamins are not a substitute for a healthy diet. — A Healthy Mom's Daily Food Guide

Quit smoking and avoid secondhand smoke. Cigarette smoke may restrict the growth of your baby before birth. Exposure to tobacco smoke can cause your baby to be born too soon and also increases the risk for sudden infant death syndrome.

Stop alcohol use. Alcohol can cause your baby to be born with fetal alcohol syndrome. This means that your baby may be born with growth deficiency and developmental delay or mental retardation.

Use only drugs approved by your health care provider. Check with your health care provider before using any over the counter drugs and avoid street drugs entirely. Drug use during pregnancy can lead to low birth weight, developmental delay, learning disabilities, and increased irritability of your baby.

Regular exercise is as important in promoting health during pregnancy as it is when you're not pregnant. Check with your health care provider to determine if there is any reason for your not exercise and find out what is appropriate exercise for you.

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