Pregnancy Q & A: Part 1

With OB-GYN Dr. Aron Schuftan.

We asked parents and future parents what they most wanted to know about pregnancy. Read on for expert answers from Dr. Aron Schuftan.

What are the major differences between delivering at a hospital and a birth center? Where can you learn more about these options?

A birth center is staffed by midwives and/or obstetricians for mothers in labor who desire a more natural, home-like experience. They may be assisted by doulas and coaches. Compared to hospitals, birth centers typically provide more options during labor: food, drinks, music, and the attendance of family and friends if desired. Other characteristics can also include birthing tubs or showers for water births. The decor is meant to emphasize the normality of birth. In a center, as opposed to a hospital, women may be encouraged to act more spontaneously during their birth, such as by squatting, walking, or performing other postures that assist in labor. Active birth is encouraged. The length of stay after a birth is shorter at a center than at a hospital; sometimes just six hours after birth, the mother and infant can go home. C-sections cannot be done at birth centers.

It's been said that having a glass of wine a day while pregnant is okay. Is this true?

At this time, alcohol consumption during pregnancy is not recommended.

When should women start taking prenatal vitamins: before or during pregnancy? What kinds of them are best?

Ideally women should start taking prenatal vitamins before getting pregnant as good nutritional support is important at the time of conception. Any prenatal vitamin with at least 400mcg (0.4 mg) of folic acid is recommended.

For how long should my partner and I try to conceive before we should look into possible infertility issues?

It really depends on your medical history. Traditionally, however, additional insight may be needed after one year of actively trying to achieve pregnancy without success for women younger than 35 and after six months for women older than 35.

Is it normal to feel cramping, even early in pregnancy?

Yes, your body is changing and that can cause cramping. Also, the corpus luteal cyst (which is a normal cyst of pregnancy) can often cause cramping in early pregnancy. However, if you have severe cramping, always contact your healthcare provider to make sure you don't have an ectopic pregnancy (a pregnancy growing in your fallopian tube).