Answers from the Doctor - Frequently Asked Pregnancy Questions

I'm Andrew Ellsworth. I'm a family physician here in Brookings. I work at the Avera Clinic and the Brookings Health System. I'm originally from the area. I went to college in Sioux Falls at Augustana College, and I went to medical school here in South Dakota, as well. I was in Idaho for three years for residency, and now I've returned to the area, because my wife and I wanted to be closer to family, and closer to the grandparents for our little ones.

Common Questions During Pregnancy

As a family physician, I do obstetrics, as well, and so I see expectant mothers. And whether it's your first time being pregnant, or your fifth, or more, there's always going to be questions and concerns. And there's a lot of information out there, and it can be confusing. Some of the more common questions I get are, "When can I be induced?" to "What causes morning sickness?" and "What are Braxton Hicks contractions?" and "What are some of the other changes in my body during pregnancy?"


What Causes Morning Sickness?

We don't know exactly what causes morning sickness. It's likely related to hormonal changes, like changes in your progesterone and estrogen levels, which affect your body in so many ways, but it's very common. Up to 70, 80% of women have it. It's usually a bigger problem earlier in the pregnancy, if it is. In fact, some women, it's starts affecting them as early as four weeks, eight weeks into their pregnancy. Thankfully, it often gets better by the end of the first trimester, around 14 weeks. Some of the ways that can help is not having . . . letting your stomach be empty. And so, always eating, maybe smaller, more frequent meals. Maybe eating something before you even get out of bed, since oftentimes, it can be worse in the morning. But, it can follow you throughout the day. Vitamin B-6 can be helpful, as well as ginger, whether that's ginger pills, or even, maybe some ginger tea. I know some women that have made a ginger tea, and sipped on it throughout the day, and that's been helpful.


How Do Breasts Change During Pregnancy?

During pregnancy, there's lots of changes for a woman, including the breasts can become larger. Early in pregnancy, the cells actually increase in number, and then the glandular cells and ductal cells start to enlarge and prepare for milk for baby, once baby's born.


What are Braxton Hicks Contractions?

Braxton Hicks contractions are irregular contractions that can occur any time in your pregnancy. In fact, we found that you're likely having them throughout your pregnancy, but a lot of times you don't start feeling them until later, at least 24 to 28 weeks. Certainly, many women, by the time at the end of their pregnancy, they're starting to feel these irregular contractions. They can occur anytime throughout the day. You might notice them more often in the evening, and they do not cause cervical change. You're not in labor, but they are helping to exercise the uterus and prepare for labor, eventually. If you're starting to have these contractions regularly, at any interval that's concerning, then you'd want to talk to your doctor about it, and get evaluated.


What Are Signs of Labor?

One of the biggest signs of labor is contractions. When you start having contractions that are occurring at regular intervals and getting stronger in intensity and more frequent, you're likely in labor or early labor. If you're towards the end of your pregnancy and you're having these, that's good. You're in labor, and you should probably come in, or call the hospital when they start to occur every 10 minutes, or so. Some other signs of labor include changes in your mucus. Maybe you've passed your mucus plug or some bloody show, or bloody mucus. Also, you might have your water break. That might be a big gush of fluid, like on T.V., or it might just be a trickle, and you might not know for sure, if you really did break your water or not. And if you're concerned in any way, you'd want to come in, and we can find out for you.


When is Labor Induced?

As long as you have a healthy pregnancy and there's no medical complications, it's best to let baby stay in until he or she is ready. And so generally, as far as if you start talking about inducing labor, you'd want to wait until at least 39 weeks. That gives baby enough time to get ready, and it allows time at the end of baby's development to get the lungs fully developed. So really, it's best to maybe wait until things come naturally. But, if you're talking about induction, it should hopefully, be at least after 39 weeks.


Why is Labor Induced Early?

There's a variety of medical reasons why we may consider inducing earlier. If your water's broken and you haven't started having many contractions, we might want to help you develop more contractions. Also, if there's concerns with baby, if baby's not moving as well, and we're worried about baby, we might want to try to help baby along with labor. Also, if your blood pressure's too high or other complications of pregnancy.


Why Brookings Health System?

You can feel comfortable getting your care at Brookings Health System because of the individualized, personalized care that you receive from caring staff and caring physicians who really want what's best for you and your baby.


Why Did You Choose Brookings Health System for Your Baby?

My wife and I chose to have our baby at the Brookings Health System because we were impressed by the personalized care that we would receive here, and the individual attention, and the emphasis on baby and mommy.