Ask Our Doctors: Pregnancy Edition
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What Side to Sleep on

Brianna, from Pacific Palisades, California, is 20 weeks pregnant and has been told that she should only sleep on her left side. But doing so has left her sore and worried if she wakes up in any other position. She asks Dr. Lisa what side is best to sleep on.

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“You can [lie] on your right side, too,” Dr. Lisa says. “After the second trimester, though, you just don’t want to go flat on your back because the uterus can be heavy enough to compress the major vessel that’s supporting [the] baby. So what you want to do is if you’re even just wedged, you’re fine, but really, in studies, maximal is the left side, but you’re OK if you’re on your right side.

“You’re just going to get more and more uncomfortable when you sleep, so you may need to take catnaps, too,” Dr. Lisa adds. “But that’s absolutely normal during pregnancy.”


Stop the Swelling
Tangie, from Las Vegas, is 27 weeks pregnant, and her legs and feet have started to swell. She asks if that is normal and what she can do to reduce the inflammation.

 

Dr. Lisa explains that swelling in the legs and feet during pregnancy is normal, because pressure from the uterus compresses the blood vessels, causing fluid retention.

Remedies for Swollen Feet
• Elevate your feet
Wear compression stockings
Avoid standing or sitting for long periods of time
Stay cool, since heat can make the swelling worse

If you suffer from severe or sudden swelling, it could be a sign of preeclampsia. Symptoms of preeclampsia include headaches, blurred vision and dizziness. Swelling in only one leg, especially if you have pain or tenderness in your calf or thigh, could be a sign of a blood clot. Make sure to talk to your doctor if you suffer from these symptoms.


Lose your Baby Weight

Dropping weight after pregnancy can be difficult. Amber asks The Doctors if she can lose some post-pregnancy pounds simply by breastfeeding.

 

Dr. Jim explains that breastfeeding and milk production actually burns between 300 and 500 calories per day.

“It definitely can help you lose weight really quickly,” Dr. Lisa says. “After a while, it sort of evens out for everybody, but because it starts to break down that fat really fast, breastfeeding does help accelerate the weight loss.”

 

Are Epidurals Safe?

An epidural, an anesthetic that blocks pain in a particular area, is among the most popular pain-relief methods during childbirth, but are there risks to alleviating the pain?

Explaining Epidurals

Dr. Lisa explains how an epidural works and if they are safe.


“Women do not get a gold star for being in pain,” Dr. Lisa says. “If that’s something you want to do, that’s fine. That’s absolutely not going to change anything. But you absolutely do not have to be in pain to have a baby. Women have actually died of too much pain, and women in other countries, who cannot get epidurals, would kill for an epidural.

 

“There are risks for any procedure, but they’re very minimal if it’s done in a safe environment,” Dr. Lisa continues. “They can actually be very helpful for certain conditions in pregnancy, like a twin pregnancy and obviously for a cesarean-section.”

 

Because the epidural does make a puncture wound, risks include possible infection, bleeding and severe headaches. “But they are very rare,” Dr. Lisa says. “It’s definitely an option women should think about.”


Trapped in Her Own Skin
Thirteen-year-old Tabrisha suffers constant teasing and ridicule because of a mysterious skin condition and is desperate for help.

White spots began appearing on Tabrisha’s skin when she was 6. Doctors told her and her mother that her skin was just changing, and it was nothing to worry about. Over time, however, the spots spread from her arms and legs and now cover her entire body. She wears long-sleeve shirts and jackets to hide the discoloration and avoid teasing.

 

“I’ve been called Dalmatian, Ms. Polka Dot, Spotty Girl,” she says. “The spots have taken over everything in my life.

 

“I didn’t have friends, because for a minute, they thought I had chicken pox and I was going to give it to them,” she adds. “I feel like the spots have taken over my personality, my wardrobe, everything. I don’t feel like I can be myself until they’re gone.”

More on Eczema

• Learn more about eczema and how to treat it.

• Dr. Jim’s tips to help soothe the symptoms of eczema.

 

Board-certified dermatologist Dr. Ava Shamban examines Tabrisha. Results from a skin biopsy were consistent with a diagnosis of eczema, a chronic, recurring skin disorder that interferes with normal skin function and results in easily irritated, dry and itchy skin.

 

“It’s a condition that anybody can have,” Dr. Shamban says. “It can be seen in little children, in teenagers, in adults, and it can be difficult to treat.”

 

Dr. Shamban says treatments available for Tabrisha include a narrowband UVB, which is a phototherapy treatment that can help restore the pigment to Tabrisha’s skin. Specialized creams can help to stimulate the cells that make the pigment and bring the color back.

“You can go out there in your bikini and your shorts and short sleeves and be fine!” Dr. Shamban says.








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OAD 8/31/09

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