Q: How much is too much caffeine when pregnant?
A: Women can still get their daily java fix during pregnancy, but there are a few things to keep in mind.
Caffeine is a stimulant and increases heart rate and blood pressure, which is not recommended during pregnancy. Too much caffeine can disrupt not only your sleep pattern, but your baby’s as well.
It’s also a diuretic, meaning it causes frequent urination that can lead to dehydration. And caffeine also can aggravate heartburn, a common discomfort during pregnancy.
Ana Martinez, MD, obstetrician/gynecologist at Shawnee Mission Medical Center, explains, “Patients often wonder if the consumption of caffeine is safe during pregnancy. There is no reason why patients cannot consume caffeine, so long as it is done in moderation. We suggest no more than around 200 mg of caffeine daily, which is equal to a 12-ounce cup of coffee. I would just recommend that you stay away from those super-caffeinated drinks, such as Monster or Red Bull."
Caffeine is found not only in coffee, tea and soda, but also in chocolate, coffee-flavored ice cream and some over-the-counter medications.

Q: Do I need a prescription prenatal vitamin or can I take an OTC?
The most important thing to remember about prenatal vitamins is that they should be taken every day, preferably starting in the months before conception.
Whether they are prescription or OTC is a matter of tolerance (some vitamins aggravate morning sickness), cost (prescription isn’t always covered by insurance) and your doctor’s recommendation.
Dr. George Lu, a practicing maternal and fetal medicine specialist at Saint Luke’s Hospital, says, “Some form of prenatal vitamin taken prior to conception is the key, with the main ingredient being, at minimum, 0.4 mg of folic acid daily. What distinguishes one prenatal vitamin from another, whether prescription or OTC, is the amount of other essential vitamins and nutrients, such as iron, and other medications, such as stool softeners.”
Talk to your health care provider about which prenatal vitamin is best for you, and remember, vitamins should be taken as a supplement, not as a substitute for nutritious meals.

Q: What’s the new definition of a term pregnancy?
For years, babies born between 37 and 42 weeks were considered “full term” and were believed to have the same good health outcomes. However, research over the last several years has found that newborn outcomes during this time frame are not uniform.
Research from two leading medical groups, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine, has found that babies born between 39 weeks/0 days and 40 weeks/6 days fare the best, compared with babies born before or after this period.
The change was made in an effort to reduce the rate of early elective deliveries, often scheduled before 39 weeks of gestation. In some cases, delivery before 39 weeks is unavoidable, such as when a woman’s water breaks or when there are significant health risks for Mom and Baby.
Here are the new, more precise labels doctors are using:
Early Term: 37 weeks/0 days to 38 weeks/6 days
Full Term: 39 weeks/0 days to 40 weeks/6 days
Late Term: 41 weeks/0 days to 41 weeks/6 days
Post Term: 42 weeks/0 and days later

Q: When’s the best time to tell people I am pregnant?
A: There is really no “right” answer to this question; it’s a matter of personal preference. While many women wait to share the news until after the first trimester, when the rate of miscarriage goes down significantly, others choose to spill the beans right away. Many couples tell immediate family right away and wait until 12 or 13 weeks to tell extended family, friends and coworkers.
Some things to consider when deciding when to make the big announcement: your health and history of past pregnancies, your age (the older you are, the greater the chance of miscarriage), work schedule (you and your boss may need to make plans for your maternity leave) and even how you feel those first few weeks (those dealing with morning sickness may seek advice/support from others).
Bonnie Lesmeister, a Raymore mom, says, “When we found out we were pregnant with Luke, we told everyone right away. He was 10 years in the making.”
Whitney Szczucinski, a Belton mom and teacher, says, “We gave my parents a Christmas ornament that said ‘Grandparents are the Best’ and then told my close friends. Since it was twins, I waited to tell work/my students until I was about 13-14 weeks along.”

Tisha Foley lives in Belton with her husband and two children.

As always, please contact your health care provider with any questions or concerns.

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