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A normal pregnancy lasts about 40 weeks from your last period. The first trimester lasts from your last period through the 13th week of pregnancy. The second trimester lasts from the 14th week of your pregnancy through the 26th week. The third trimester lasts from your 27th week of pregnancy until your baby is born. If you know the date of your last period, your caregiver can estimate your due date. You may give birth to your baby any time from 2 weeks before to 2 weeks after your due date.



  • Prenatal vitamins: These can help you get enough vitamins and minerals. Prenatal vitamins may also decrease the risk of certain birth defects.

  • Take your medicine as directed. Call your healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.

Follow up with your primary healthcare provider or obstetrician as directed:

Go to all of your prenatal visits during your pregnancy. Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

Stay healthy during pregnancy:

  • Eat a variety of healthy foods: Healthy foods include fruits, vegetables, whole-grain breads, low-fat dairy products, beans, lean meats, and fish. Ask if you need to be on a special diet.

  • Drink plenty of liquids: Drink at least eight (8-ounce) cups of healthy liquids each day. Healthy liquids include milk, water, or juice. Avoid liquids that have caffeine in them, such as coffee, tea, and soda. Do not drink alcohol.

  • Ask your primary healthcare provider before you take any medicines: Many medicines may cause permanent harm to your baby if you take them when you are pregnant. Ask your primary healthcare provider (PHP) before you take any medicines, over-the-counter drugs, vitamins, herbs, or supplements. Never use illegal or street drugs (such as marijuana or cocaine) while you are pregnant or breastfeeding. Talk to your PHP if you are having trouble quitting street drugs.

  • Exercise: Ask your PHP about the best exercise plan for you. Exercise may help you feel better and make your labor and delivery easier.

  • Do not smoke: If you smoke, it is never too late to quit. Smoking may be dangerous to your baby and cause him to weigh less at birth. Ask your PHP for information if you need help quitting.

Safety tips:

  • Avoid hot tubs and saunas: Do not use a hot tub or sauna while you are pregnant, especially during your first trimester. Hot tubs and saunas may raise your baby's temperature and increase the risk of birth defects.

  • Sex: You can have sex until your labor starts, unless there are problems with your pregnancy. Use condoms during sex if you are at risk for a sexually transmitted infection (STI). STIs can be dangerous for you and your baby. Do not have sex if you are bleeding from the vagina or having pain in your abdomen or vagina.

  • Travel safely: The most comfortable time to travel is during the second trimester (fourth to sixth months). Travel tips include the following:

    • By airplane: Ask for an aisle seat. This will make it easier to use the bathroom and to walk around every hour.

    • Places to avoid: You may need to avoid traveling to high altitudes, especially later in your pregnancy. Do not travel to areas where medical care is poor and water is untreated. Talk to your PHP before you travel outside of the country.

  • Avoid toxoplasmosis: This is an infection caused by eating raw meat or being around infected cat feces. It can cause birth defects, miscarriages, and other problems. Wash your hands after you touch raw meat. Make sure any meat is well-cooked before you eat it. Avoid raw eggs and unpasteurized milk. Use gloves or ask someone else to clean your cat's litter box while you are pregnant.

Contact your primary healthcare provider or obstetrician if:

  • You have chills or a fever.

  • You have vaginal itching, burning, or pain.

  • You have watery fluid leaking from your vagina.

  • You have yellow, green, curdy white, or foul-smelling vaginal discharge.

  • You have frequent headaches or headaches that will not go away.

  • You have pain or burning when you urinate, less urine than usual, or pink or bloody urine.

  • You are having frequent regular contractions.

  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

Seek care immediately or call 911 if:

  • You have chest pain.

  • You have sharp lower back pain.

  • You have sudden swelling in your face, fingers, arms, ankles, or feet.

  • You have dizziness, fainting, or blurred or dim vision.

  • You are more than 20 weeks pregnant and you have any trauma, even if you are not hurt.

  • You feel part of the baby or the umbilical cord in your vagina.

  • You have vaginal bleeding.

© 2014 Truven Health Analytics Inc. Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or Truven Health Analytics.

The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

Learn more about Pregnancy (Discharge Care)