Frequently Asked Questions

Mom Holding Baby's Foot - Covington, LA - Jill Gibson, MD

Is it safe to get the Flu Vaccine during pregnancy?

YES! Vaccination against influenza has been shown to be safe in pregnancy. In fact, it is recommended for patients who are at high risk of acquiring influenza in pregnancy, such as women with underlying medical disorders or healthcare providers.

How can I tell if I am in labor?

Regular uterine contractions (every 3-5 minutes for an hour) and water breaking are signs you are in labor.

How do you know when it is not Braxton Hicks and time to go (to the hospital)?

Braxton Hicks contractions are also known as false labor. They are usually irregular and begin sometime after the 20th week of pregnancy. Sometimes they are felt earlier and are more intense in women who have had a previous pregnancy.

How much weight should I gain during my pregnancy?

The average recommended weight gain during pregnancy is 25 to 35 pounds.

How soon after delivery can I have intercourse?

It takes approximately 6 weeks for your uterus, cervix, and vaginal tissues to return to their normal pre-pregnant state.

I am 14 weeks pregnant. Can I go to the dentist? What if I need dental work done?

Dental work during pregnancy is safe.  Avoid X-ray exposure (unless abdominal shield is available) and local anesthesia with epinephrine (preparations without epi is acceptable).

I am 16 weeks pregnant. I am having pain in both sides of my lower abdomen. Is this normal?

Although there are many reasons for abdominal pain during pregnancy, the most common condition is round ligament pain. The round ligaments are connective tissue ligaments that run from the upper aspect of the uterus down to the groin. As pregnancy progresses these ligaments enlarge and become stretched, and can cause pain. The pain sensation that women often feel involves both sides of the lower abdomen and sometimes the back. The pain is sharp in nature and can be worse on the right side. Certain movements may exacerbate the pain.

Round ligament pain has not been associated with any adverse outcomes of pregnancy. Treatments include rest and position change. Tylenol may help symptoms.

I am 30 weeks pregnant and having a lot of sciatic pain. What can I do? Is this common during pregnancy?

Sciatica is a very common condition that usually occurs late in pregnancy and resolves after delivery.  Dr. Gibson can recommend stretches to help relieve symptoms.

I am a month pregnant and I’m cramping a lot. Is that bad?

Many women have cramping during early pregnancy. However, if you have persistent cramping, especially if it is associated with bleeding or spotting, it is important that you see your physician immediately.

Is it safe to travel by air during pregnancy?

Flying in airplanes is safe during pregnancy and there is no indication that it causes future complications.

Is the Consumption of Fish Dangerous During Pregnancy?

Healthcare officials have issued a new advisory on the dangers of eating fish. Healthcare officials are concerned that the level of mercury in certain fish might pose certain risks to a developing fetus.  Limit tuna consumption to 3 (6oz) servings per week.  Avoid shark, king mackrel, and tile fish.

What are Apgar scores and what do they mean?

The Apgar score measures the need to resuscitate an infant immediately after birth.  They are assessed and documented at 1 minute and 5 minutes (as well as 10 minutes if necessary).  Scoring ranges from 0-10 for each criteria.

What are the effects of antibiotic use on birth control pills?

Some antibiotics and certain other medications have the potential to reduce the effectiveness of birth control pills.

What are the symptoms of pregnancy other than morning sickness and missed periods?

There are other signs and symptoms of pregnancy including breast tenderness and frequent headaches.

What are your chances of being pregnant and still having a period?

From a physiologic standpoint it is not possible to continue having a period while you are pregnant.  However, some women have had light bleeding during early stages of pregnancy.

What is an ectopic pregnancy?

Ectopic pregnancy, also known as tubal pregnancy, develops outside the uterus, usually in the fallopian tube, but can be located on the ovary, abdominal cavity and other near by locations. Symptoms of an abnormal pregnancy include moderate/severe pain, usually located on one side, and accompanied by vaginal bleeding.  It is very important to keep close follow-up and determine the site of the pregnancy to prevent rupture of fallopian tube and possible hemorrage, requiring surgery.  Early prenatal care is critical to prevent complications caused by an ectopic pregancy.

What is the possibility of my passing herpes to my child during labor/delivery?

Because of the risk of transmission to your infant, the American College of OB/GYN recommends cesarean section if any herpes lesions are present at the time of your delivery.  Suppression therapy usually begins at 36 weeks with daily dosing of acyclovir to prevent an outbreak near term/delivery.

What types of pain relief are available during and after childbirth?

There are several types of anesthesia (most common being the epidural) that can be used during labor and delivery. It is important for each woman to understand her options beforehand.