FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
REPRODUCTIVE HEALTH & JUSTICE
Q: Why do I get so afraid of the negative physical and health changes pregnancy, child labor/birth, and early motherhood (first 6 months)?
Pregnancy brings momentous changes in all aspects of our lives, so it is quite natural to feel some fear around the unknown. The experience is different for every individual. For that reason, it may be difficult to predict how the experience will pan out. The COVID-19 pandemic has made the experience even more isolating. One important way to help mitigate these fears is to have positive, and encouraging social and emotional supports around you. This may include family members or friends who have been through the birthing process, a partner or spouse, a spiritual advisor, or even a therapist. It may also be helpful to develop an open dialogue with your doctor, or to hire a doula to provide education, and help you craft a birth experience unique to your needs. I also always strongly encourage you to stay grounded in some form of spirituality, or mindfulness as it will help you navigate through the unexpected hurdles and manage heightened fear.
Q: I am concerned about my nipple size as a teenager, and they are quite flat. My concern is whether I'll be able to nurse my child in the future?
A: Nipples come in different sizes, shapes, and colors! But it is more the function of the nipple that is the most important to breastfeeding. Nipples can protrude with exposure to cold, during sexual stimulation, or during your pregnancy. If you experience these changes, your nipples may not be truly flat. In general, flat nipples do not interfere with breastfeeding. As long as the baby latches properly to the breast, they can draw the nipples out. A proper latch is one where the child takes the nipple, and the entire areola into their mouths in order to stimulate milk let down. Breastfeeding is often not intuitive for first time moms, so be sure to seek support early if you run into trouble to maximize your chances of success. Additionally, you can always speak with a lactation consultant for individualized guidance!
Q: How do you know if you are fertile?
The first step is to try to get pregnant when you are ready! This is the only sure fire way to know if you are fertile. There are many physical signs that we use to determine someone’s level of fertility. If you have regular periods, ovulate at the same time every month, and generally have good health status, there is a strong likelihood that you are fertile. There are also some laboratory tests that can be used to help us diagnose fertility issues. If you have been trying for pregnancy for at least a year, speak with your doctor about investigating an underlying cause of fertility issues. For many of us, the perfect time to start a family is much later in life. While it is true that fertility rates decline with age, it is not over until the egg drops!
Q: When should I have sex to get pregnant?
The fertility awareness method (also known as the rhythm method for natural family planning) can be a very effective way to get pregnant (or prevent pregnancy) if done correctly, if you have regular cycles, and if the timing is right. In order to maximize your chance of getting pregnant with this method, it is important that you know 1) your cycle length 2) the days of your fertile window, and 3) your ovulation day. Most people are most fertile 10 to 15 days after the first day of their period. As people near their fertile windows, libido typically increases, and vaginal fluid may become thin and watery. Ovulation, which is the release of a mature egg from the ovary, often occurs on the last day of the fertile window and can last 12-24 hours. You may consider some fertility awareness aids to help you, like measuring your basal body temperature, monitoring your vaginal fluid, ovulation strips, or menstrual cycle tracking apps.
Q: I've miscarried twice now, both times at 8 weeks. Does this mean I can never get pregnant?
First trimester pregnancy loss is extremely common. It is estimated that nearly 50% of all pregnancies end in miscarriage (often unbeknownst to the mother), with the vast majority of these losses occurring before 12 weeks. A small percentage of women do have two miscarriages in a row, and this does not necessarily mean that you can never get pregnant. In fact, pregnancy loss occurs for a myriad of reasons. If you are very concerned, start by scheduling an appointment to speak with your doctor to review your potential risk factors for pregnancy loss, and to identify a potential cause. While it’s totally natural and quite common to feel sadness and other negative emotions during pregnancy loss, be sure to make an effort to keep yourself in a space of positivity, and optimism because there are many medical options to achieve pregnancy.
Q: Why do I keep having chronic yeast infections?
Recurrent yeast infections can be very uncomfortable and annoying to say the least. Vaginal infections like bacterial vaginosis, and yeast infections are very common, and usually result from a underlying imbalance in your vaginal environment. These types of infections typically have a trigger. The list of triggers very long! But some of the more common triggers but may include your period, a recent sexual encounter, hot tubs /pools / bath tub bathing, recent antibiotic use, or the summer months. To start, you can try to modify the things that you can control first, like eating a healthy diet rich in fruits, veggies, and fiber. You can also try an over the counter anti-fungal cream and probiotic rich foods, or probiotic supplements to help rebalance your vaginal environment. If you are still having infections after making these changes, you may want to speak with your doctor to investigate an underlying cause for the frequent infections.
Q: Can my weight affect the regularity of my period and my ability to get pregnant? I have always had an irregular period, and I am over 200lbs.
Being overweight may make it more difficulty to get pregnant. It may cause irregular periods, change your period intensity, or even prevent ovulation. Fat cells in the body are very metabolically active, and participate in estrogen production. Too much estrogen can throw off the balance of your cycle, and may make it more difficult to become pregnant. Trying for pregnant is a great motivation to become your healthiest self to improve your chances of pregnancy, and for your overall long term health.