Parenting Frequently Asked Questions

Your guide to being a new parent


Are there foods I should avoid while I'm pregnant?

Yes! There are certainly some foods you should not eat while pregnant. In addition, you should be trying to get all of your essential vitamins and minerals daily. Try filling your diet with leaf greens, fruits, veggies and whole grains.

A few important foods to exclude from your pregnancy diet include:

  • Raw fish, like sushi
  • Unpasteurized soft cheese like brie and feta
  • Unpasteurized raw milk
  • Cold deli meats
  • Uncooked eggs and meat
  • Alcohol

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How much weight should I gain during pregnancy?

The old saying that you are now "eating for two" shouldn't be taken too literally! In fact, for most pregnant women (not including those expecting multiples), an additional 300 extra calories per day is all that is needed. Here's a general guide to follow:

  • If you start at a normal weight before pregnancy, gain between 25-35 pounds during pregnancy.
  • If you are overweight before pregnancy, gain 15-25 pounds.
  • If you are underweight before pregnancy, gain 28-40 pounds.

For multiple births, talk with your doctor to determine an ideal range for weight gain to help ensure a healthy pregnancy.

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When should I call my doctor between normal pregnancy visits?

Throughout your pregnancy, you will see your doctor often as a result of regular prenatal check-ups and visits. If you experience any of the following symptoms, however, you should call your health care provider immediately:

  • Unusual or severe cramping or abdominal pain.
  • Significant reduction in the baby's movements after 28 weeks. (Less than 10 movements in a two hour period.)
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing.
  • Any bleeding in the second or third trimester.
  • Signs of premature labor.
  • Pain or cramping in the arms, legs or chest.
  • Fever over 100 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Severe or persistent diarrhea or vomiting.
  • Fainting spells or dizziness.
  • Blurred vision or spots in front of your eyes.

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Can I take medication during my pregnancy?

Generally speaking, you should attempt to avoid any over the counter or prescription medication while pregnant unless necessary. The following medications have shown to have no harmful effects during pregnancy when taken according to the package instructions. However, no drug can be considered 100% safe to use during pregnancy.

Medications generally safe for use during pregnancy:

  • Benadryl
  • Claritin
  • Tylenol (generic version: acetaminophen)
  • Metamucil
  • Saline nasal drops or spray

However, if you are ever unsure about a medication, always call your doctor before taking it.

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Do I need to take prenatal vitamins throughout my pregnancy?

Yes! It is important to take prenatal vitamins throughout your pregnancy. Prenatal vitamins are specially formulated to contain higher amongst of iron and folic acid than traditional multivitamins. These are the most important supplements for you during pregnancy. By getting enough folic acid, you reduce the risk of neural-tube defects for your baby. The additional iron helps to prevent anemia and help your baby's blood development.

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I just found out I'm pregnant. When should I schedule my first doctor appointment?

It is recommended that the first prenatal appointment occur between 8-10 weeks after the start of your last menstrual period. Studies have demonstrated the benefits of first-trimester prenatal care. Contact your health care provider to let them know you are pregnant and they will assist you in setting up the necessary appointments.

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Is it safe to drink any alcohol while pregnant?

While it may seem harmless to indulge in a glass of wine or a mug of beer with friends, no studies have been able to prove what a "safe amount" of alcohol to consume while pregnant is. Due to the uncertainty, it is best to err on the side of caution and not drink alcohol while pregnant.

Alcohol is one of the most common causes of mental and physical birth defects in babies. If you need help to quit drinking, contact our Health Management nurses at (715) 552-4300 or (888) 203-7770.

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Do I need to quit smoking while pregnant?

Yes! Pregnant women who continue to smoke are passing the nicotine and carbon monoxide to their growing baby. If you are pregnant, you should also avoid spending time around people who are smoking, as second-hand smoke carries the same dangers for your unborn baby. The risks to a baby of a mother smoking while pregnant include:

  • Stillbirth
  • Prematurity
  • Low birth weight
  • Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS)
  • Asthma and other respiratory problems

If you need help to quit smoking, contact our Health Management nurses at (715) 552-4300 or (888) 203-7770.

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I've heard that pregnant women should avoid hot tubs. Is that true?

Yes! If you are pregnant, you should avoid activities that would raise your core temperature above 102 degrees Fahrenheit. These types of activities include hot tubs, along with:

  • Saunas
  • Taking very long, hot baths or showers
  • Using electric blankets or heating pads
  • Becoming overheated when outside in hot weather or exercising

If your core body temperature goes above 102 degrees Fahrenheit for more than 10 minutes, the elevated heat can cause problems with the fetus.

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New Parents

I'm not sure I'm bonding with my baby. Shouldn't this happen right away?

The concept of "love at first sight" can be very misleading for new moms and dads. While some parents feel an instant bond, others find that bonding is a slower and more gradual process. This is okay. It's important to remember there are many changes happening in your life, so you may need to give things time. To help natural bonding occur, there are things you can do that include:

  • Breastfeeding. If it is possible, nurse as often as possible. This intimate connection actually causes the mother to release the hormone oxytocin, which has a relaxing effect on the mother. If breastfeeding is not an option, focus on skin-to-skin contact with your new baby while feeding them. Dads can also benefit from skin-to-skin contact with their new baby.
  • Bedtime Routines. Building a bedtime routine with your new baby from the beginning is a great opportunity to take advantage of that quiet time in the evening. Create your own soothing routine that promotes physical intimacy, such as a bath or quiet snuggling.
  • Balance. When a new baby enters your life, you can feel like you want to give everything you have to that new child. Unfortunately, that can lead to new parents having no energy – and high stress levels!

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When is a baby's fever high enough for me to call the doctor?

As a new parent, any fever can be frightening. Generally, you should call your pediatrician any time your baby's temperature is higher than 100 degrees. Calling your provider's office allows them to better understand the issue and help you decide what the best course of action is for your child.

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How long is it OK to let my baby cry?

As a newborn, your baby's only way to communicate is through crying. When your baby is crying, they are telling you something, even if it is only that they need comfort. It's important to know that during the first two to three months of life, you cannot spoil an infant by holding them. As the baby gets older, you do want them to learn how to soothe themselves if they aren't wet, hungry and nothing else is wrong.

Dealing with a crying infant can be very trying on new parents. If you are feeling overwhelmed or frustrated with the crying, it is recommended set your baby safely in their crib and give yourself 15 minutes to calm down and collect your emotions.

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My infant sleeps better on his/her tummy. Do I have to have him/her sleep on his back?

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that healthy infants be placed on their backs for sleep, as it is the safest position for an infant to sleep. This position decreases your baby's chance of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), which is responsible for more infant deaths in the United States than any other cause during the first year of life.

As your baby gets older, he or she will gain enough body strength and control to roll over from their back to their stomach. If that happens, you do not need to roll the baby back over during the night.

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How do I know that my baby is getting enough to eat while nursing?

Newborns typically eat every two to three hours throughout the day and night. When a mom chooses to breastfeed, they often worry if their baby is getting enough to eat. Here are a few ways to know if your baby is getting the food that he or she needs:

  • Baby is spending 10-15 minutes at each breast during a feeding.
  • He or she has six or more wet diapers and two or more dirty diapers every 24 hours.
  • After losing a little weight the first week after birth, your baby starts to gain weight the second week. If you are concerned about your baby's weight, check with your pediatrician.

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How often does my new baby need a bath?

Three baths per week is plenty. Having baths more often can dry out your baby's skin. You can always wipe your baby clean with a sponge or wash cloth.

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How do I know if my baby's car seat is installed correctly?

If there is any baby item that can seem intimidating and confusing, it may be the car seat. However, it's important to ensure that your car seat has been properly installed as it can save your baby's life in an accident. Always make sure the car seat you are using has not been in any previous accidents.

Once you have installed your car seat, it is worthwhile to go to a public car seat check event. Having a professional check to ensure your car seat is installed properly is an important step in ensuring the safety of your baby. Visit the events page of Safe Kids Wisconsin to see what public car seat checks are coming up in your area.

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