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10 Interesting Things You Didn’t Know About Pregnancy

1. Your first sonogram will be internal — « I tell my patients it sort of looks like a big magic wand. »

Contrary to popular belief, your very first ultrasound will not be performed on the outside of your belly. Dr. Minkin said, « Initially, when the uterus is fairly small, we like to do what’s called a transvaginal ultrasound. It gives us a closer look at where the baby is and we don’t have to go through all the layers of the abdomen to get to the uterus. »

After about two months, doctors will perform the abdominal ultrasound you’re used to seeing and/or hearing about.

2. And, sorry, but you don’t get an ultrasound at every appointment.

Many people think they will get an ultrasound of their baby at every doctor’s appointment, but that isn’t true. Throughout the course of a nine-month pregnancy — if everything looks normal — you will only have about two to three ultrasounds in total.

“A lot of times a sonogram will be performed at the first obstetrical visit just to make sure everything is okay. Generally, some doctors will do an ultrasound at about 12 weeks to look for malformations. Doctors will also do an ultrasound at about 16 to 18 weeks, and at that point we’re just looking for overall malformations. But, that’s when we stop doing ultrasounds unless there’s a concern or question…or multiple babies.”

3. The act of sex won’t induce labor, but seminal fluid might.

Dr. Minkin said, « Seminal fluid, or semen, is rich in a chemical called prostaglandin which is initially located in the prostate gland and made in many organs of the body. One of its properties allows it to contract uterine smooth muscle. (And we think that menstrual cramps are caused by prostaglandin which is contracting the uterus.) We often use prostaglandin to induce labor. That’s where this belief comes from that if you have sex and seminal fluid is released, the prostaglandin may help stimulate uterine contraction to aid getting the baby out of there. Does it help? We don’t know; it’s hard to say. But we usually tell someone who is having premature contractions not to have sex. There’s all sorts of people that will tell you it helps and there’s some science behind it. »

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4. Speaking of sex, the baby’s head does not get « poked » while you’re doing it.

« No, the baby will not be poked. The cervix is basically closed until the very end of the pregnancy, and even when it starts opening, it’s not a problem. The baby is floating in fluid. There’s amniotic fluid all around the baby. It’s like something in a balloon that is filled with water. If anything comes toward the uterus, it will just bounce out of the way. The baby will not be poked, not to worry. »

5. A male fetus will get erections in the womb.

« Yes, they get erections, but they do not make sperm. »

6. And a female fetus’s eggs are formed in utero.

« A baby girl’s eggs are basically formed in utero. Girls actually have the highest number of eggs in utero. And by the time they are born, they’ll have lost some of their eggs. »

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7. A baby is actually 38 weeks (not 40 weeks) during a full-term pregnancy.

« When I say six to seven weeks gestation, that’s weeks from your last period, which from conception is really four to five weeks. Usually you conceive about two weeks into your menstrual cycle. So, that’s a common misunderstanding as far as what are weeks pregnant. When I say 40 weeks is term, that’s 38 weeks from conception. »

8. Pregnant women don’t need to « eat for two, » they only need about 300 more calories a day during pregnancy.

« The preferred thing to do during pregnancy, because of some of these digestive issues, is to eat frequent, small meals. You’re going to be much more comfortable. »

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