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Important information for expectant mothers

While prenatal care is one important part of a healthy pregnancy, it is also very important to care for yourself and your baby between visits. This page contains information about maintaining a healthy diet during pregnancy, medications to avoid while pregnant, normal changes to expect and when to call your doctor. You are also invited to sign up for Novant Health's free Pregnancy eNewsletter for information to help you during and after your pregnancy.

Pregnancy diet & exercise

Healthy eating is very important for you and your baby. Please refer to our Educational Resources page for links to helpful maternity diet resources. Here are some things to keep in mind about your diet while pregnant:

  • Drink plenty of fluids.
  • Avoid alcohol, tobacco and recreational drugs.
  • Limit caffeine to one serving per day.
  • Continue with your exercise routine, but do not start new exercise programs.
  • Avoid fish with high levels of mercury. You can find more information on what fish to avoid and what fish are healthy on our educational resources page.
  • Do not eat raw fish or meat.
  • Do not drink any unpasteurized juice or milk.

Medications to avoid

Avoid aspirin and non-steroidal pain relievers. You can take tylenol when needed. Other allowed medications, listed by ailment:

  • Common cold, congestion, seasonal allergies: Tylenol, Sudafed, Dimetapp, Triaminic, Coricidin, Theraflu, Allegra, Cold-Eeze, Zyrtec, Claritin, Benadryl, Mucinex
  • Diarrhea: Immodium AD, Kaopectate
  • Nausea: Dramamine
  • Indigestion/Heartburn: Mylanta, Pepcid AC, Rolaids, Zantac, Tums, Gaviscon, Maalox
  • Hemorrhoids: Anusol ointment, Preparation H (cream, ointment or pads), Tucks pads
  • Contact Dermatitis Rash: Benadryl cream or tablets, Calamine lotion, 1% Hydrocortisone cream, Aveeno products (avoid hot baths)
  • Cough: Robitussin, Dimetapp, Triaminic, Coricidin, Benylin, Cough Drops
  • Sore throat: Tylenol, Chloraseptic spray, Cepacol or Halls lozenges, Warm water salt gargles, Cold-Eeze
  • Sleep/Insomnia: Tylenol PM, Benadryl
  • Headache/Fever: Tylenol PM, Tylenol
  • Constipation: Colace, Citrucel, FiberCon, Metamucil, Milk of Magnesia, Hydrocil, Dulcolax suppositories, Dialose plus Penefiber
  • Gas: Mylicon, Mylanta, Gas-X, Phazyme, Lactaid
  • Leg Cramps: Tums, Benadryl

Normal changes associated with pregnancy

Your body is on a hormonal roller coaster of sorts while pregnant. You can expect certain changes, including:

  • Nausea and vomiting. This is particularly common during the first trimester. If you experience nausea: Eat smaller, more frequent meals; eat dry foods such as crackers or toast; avoid greasy, fatty or fried foods; limit dairy intake; avoid strong odors; and avoid lying down immediately after eating.
  • Frequent need to urinate. Common throughout pregnancy.
  • Increased breast size.
  • Headaches, nosebleeds, vaginal discharge. Common throughout pregnancy.
  • Faintness and tiredness. Common during early and late pregnancy.
  • Contractions. Can happen as early as month four, though most women don't feel them until month seven or eight.
  • Heartburn, indigestion, backache, breast leakage, hemorrhoids, constipation, bleeding or swelling gums, heart palpitations, leg cramps, pelvic pain or discomfort, excessive salivation, shortness of breath, blotchy or discolored skin, stretch marks, swollen hands and feet, and varicose veins. Common later in pregnancy.

If you experience any of the following, call your doctor:

  • Bleeding or spotting.
  • Sharp, one-sided pain or pain that does not go away with moving or lying down.
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