Pregnancy and Illness


Fertility Labor and DeliveryPregnancy ComplicationsPregnancy and Illness
Pregnancy Diet
Pregnancy Skin Care
Meds during Pregnancy
Pregnancy Safety
Dad's Guide to Expecting
More on Pregnancy

Morning Sickness
Morning sickness affects 80 to 90 percent of pregnant women. This nauseous feeling is normal and typically subsides in the second trimester. To help ease morning sickness, try the following:

• Vitamin B6: Comes in the form of lollipops
• Crackers
• Eat smaller meals
• Eat more frequently
• Stay away from spicy foods
• Ginger or flat ginger ale
• Acupuncture bands

Get the recipe for the Morning Sickness Smoothie.

Morning Sickness
Executive producer of The Doctors Jay McGraw asks OB/GYN Dr. Lisa Masterson why his wife, Erica, who is four months pregnant, has never experienced morning sickness.

Placenta Previa

Nicole is six months along and has learned she has a condition called placenta previa. Dr. Lisa explains what that means and how that will affect Nicole's delivery options.

Abdominal Pain during Pregnancy

Jacyln is five-and-a-half months pregnant and recounts the severe abdominal pain that sent her to the emergency room. Dr. Lisa details reasons for pain, and why it's important to seek medical attention immediately.

Syphilis and Pregnancy

Syphilis is a sexually transmitted disease (STD) caused by the bacterium treponema pallidum. Syphilis can be transmitted through vaginal, anal, or oral sex, and contact with an open sore or contact with a skin rash. The bacteria can enter the body through the penis, anus, vagina, mouth or through broken skin. The disease progresses in three different stages, the first of which includes one or more painless sores on the genitalia, often followed by a rash. If left untreated, the disease can destroy the central nervous system and severely damage organs.

An infected pregnant woman can pass the disease to her unborn child during her pregnancy. Depending on how long a pregnant woman has been infected, she may have a high risk of having a stillbirth (a baby born dead) or of giving birth to a baby who dies shortly after birth. An infected baby may be born without signs or symptoms of the disease. However, if not treated immediately, the baby may develop serious problems within a few weeks. Untreated babies may become developmentally delayed, have seizures or die.

More on sexually transmitted diseases.

Anemia during Pregnancy

Anemia is the most common blood condition in the United States, affecting about 3.5 million Americans. It occurs when blood lacks enough healthy red blood cells. Pregnant women are more susceptible to iron-deficiency anemia, due to increased blood supply demands. “Most of the women whom I treat become anemic during the pregnancy,” Dr. Lisa says. “It’s really, really common. And one of the reasons is because the blood volume, when you become pregnant, doubles.

“If you’re anemic for a long time, sometimes you can have a lower-birth-weight baby,” Dr. Lisa continues. “But really it doesn’t have so many problems with the infant as much as the mother afterwards, because a woman is going to lose blood in labor. If you already are behind in the [number] of red blood cells you have, you are at risk, if you lose blood, [of] needing a transfusion afterwards.”

During pregnancy, women should increase their iron intake from 18mg to 30mg per day, and iron supplements are recommended. While added iron can cause constipation, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that all pregnant women take a daily supplement of iron as a preventative measure. “It’s not easy,” Dr. Lisa says. “But it’s extremely important.”

Symptoms of Anemia:

• Low energy

• Pale skin

• Rapid heartbeat

• Light-headedness

Anemia Test
A new, non-invasive anemia testing device by Masimo uses the measurements from light wavelengths and advanced signal processing algorithms to determine hemoglobin levels in the red blood cells. The advantage to this type of testing is that the results are immediate and no needles are involved!

On average, the red blood cell/ hemoglobin count should fall between 12 to 16 grams per deciliter of blood for women and between 13 to 18 grams per deciliter for men. Marissa, a member of the audience, volunteers to have her blood tested onstage and finds that she’s in the normal range.

Pregnant and Constipated?
To remedy constipation during pregnancy, try eating prunes, drinking lots of water, exercising, and taking fiber laxatives and stool softeners. Often, the extra iron in prenatal vitamins causes constipation.

Pregnant Women and the Flu

"You're at risk [for flu] when you're pregnant because your immune system is supporting two people," OB/GYN Dr. Lisa Masterson explains. "Your cardiovascular system is overloaded, and the blood volume is increased. Pregnant women need to be treated right away with anti-viral medications; they're not going to hurt the baby. We need to be very aggressive with pregnant women and the swine flu."

"It's not a new vaccine," Dr. Schuchat adds. "It's just a different strain being put in the [traditional] vaccine. We think that it should really protect pregnant women, who, unfortunately, have been getting very sick from the virus."

Watch a special report from affiliate station KHOU-TV in Houston, Texas on pregnant women and the H1N1 vaccine.

Learn more about pregnancy and the flu vaccine.


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.

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.

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

Hair Loss after Pregnancy

Have you experienced hair loss due to your pregnancy? You’re not alone.

“Hair loss after pregnancy is normal because of the changes in hormones,” OB/GYN Dr. Lisa Masterson says. “Your hair goes into a resting phase.”

During pregnancy, women often experience an increase in hair growth, but then afterwards, Dr. Lisa says, “all hell breaks lose.”

To Restore Your Luscious Locks:
• Avoid anything that pulls on your hair: pony tails, pig tails, braiding and cornrows are all no-nos.
• Use shampoos that contain biotin and silica.
• Eat foods high in flavonoids and antioxidants.