1. My fiances cousin has shingles, and shes told me to stay away from her. But its hard, we live in the same house but in the basement. So obviously she touches door knobs and light switches and such. Can I catch this easy? I’ve been trying not to touch things with my hands and when I touch something I use hand sanitizer after wards. Just worried because of being pregnant.

  2. I had twin girls four years ago. I was told they were in separate sacks and therefore, not identical. Once they were born, the doctor said they might be identical because they have the same blood type. Is there any way to know for sure if they are identical or fraternal? Please help, I get asked all the time if they are identical and don’t know what to answer.

    • Thanks for your question. The fact that twins are identical or fraternal is not determined by whether or not they share the same amniotic sac. Identical twins occur when one egg divides into two, resulting in the babies have the same, identical genetic makeup. Fraternal twins occur when two separate eggs are fertilized.

      In utero, 90% of “identical” twins actually have two separate amniotic sacs. It is extremely rare and quite dangerous for identical twins to share one sac. There is a high risk of the two babies’ umbilical cords entangling at some point during the pregnancy.

      Your girls could indeed be identical twins, especially if they look a great deal alike. That they share the same blood type isn’t an indication either, as it is quite common for siblings within any family to have the same blood type. The only way to know for certain is to have them genetically tested. Your pediatrician will be able to help you learn how to do that and the costs involved.

  3. Hi Tori,

    A friend gave me your book and I am really enjoying reading it. I also love your blog.

    I am 8 weeks pregnant and since I have been hearing so much in the news these days about breast cancer, I really want to be sure that I take care of myself. I am a little confused about whether or not I should do them even though I am pregnant. I see a doctor at a clinic and I am not really comfortable asking these detailed questions of my doctor. I am also not sure if I am doing it right–is there a certain way to do it? Please help!

    • Congratulations and I am so happy to have you here!

      Good for you that you are taking the initiative to take care of your body and your health. The answer to your question about whether or not you should be examining your breasts, even though you are pregnant is yes, yes, yes. It is also very important to feel comfortable enough with your practitioner to ask all your questions, understand your care and have your questions answered. You may want to see if your clinic has a nurse practitioner that you may feel more comfortable talking with.

      When you are not pregnant, the best time to perform a self-breast exam is after your period is over when your breasts are less likely to be tender or lumpy. During pregnancy, you can simply choose a day of the month as your “breast check day”. It is rare but possible to develop breast cancer and/or for the hormones of pregnancy to accelerate cancer during pregnancy. Therefore, it is very important to continue with your breast health activities throughout your entire pregnancy.

      There is no special or magic way to examine your breasts. The important thing is to get a good sense of what your own body feels like. Then you will know if something feels different or has visually changed. Many women examine their breasts while standing in the shower, although you could also sit or lie down.

      You should first look at your breast in a mirror, both with your hands at your side and then behind your head. Look for any dimples or abnormalities in shape. Next, you will want to feel your breasts in either a circular motion or in an up and down motion for any lumps. Squeeze the nipples of each breast slightly to check for any discharge. Once you do this a couple of times, you will feel more familiar with your own breasts. Be sure to let your doctor know of any lump or suspicious area that you find. It may be perfectly normal but is best to have checked out.

  4. Ann

    I am ten weeks pregnant with my first baby, and I am kind of a health and vitamin nut. I really believe in omega-3 fatty acids, and I want to continue taking my supplements throughout my pregnancy. What do you think?

    • Omega-3 fatty acids, docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), are essential nutrients for optimal fetal and infant neurodevelopment. A recent study has shown that deficiencies of these in pregnancy increase the baby’s risk of developmental delays in communication, fine motor, and social skills. The richest sources of omega-3 fatty acids are oily fish. However, many fish rich in these fatty acids also contain dangerous pollutants such as mercury, a neurotoxin. There is much controversy over how much fish women can safely eat during pregnancy without exposing their babies to too much neurotoxin. Omega-3 fatty acids are found in pumpkin and flax seeds, but in much lower levels than in oily fish. High-quality omega-3 supplements may be a good alternative. Discuss these with you practitioner.

  5. I read about an herb called blue cohosh, which can induce labor contractions. Do you have any information on this? Is it harmful for the baby? I am 41 weeks pregnant and would like to try some natural method of induction. Thanks.

    • Blue cohosh, or Caulophyllum thalictroides, is also sometimes called blueberry root, papoose root, squawroot, yellow ginseng, blue ginseng, or beech drops. Harvested in wooded areas of eastern North America, the root was originally used by Native Americans as a uterine stimulant. It is used in various forms to induce labor contractions. In my experience, blue cohosh can indeed cause uterine contractions, but it does not necessarily initiate labor. It can also have the unpleasant side effects of diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, and abdominal cramping.

      Like other medicines, herbal remedies can be very powerful. It is very important to talk with your midwife or doctor before taking any medicinal herb.

  6. I am 39 years old, and my husband and I are undergoing infertility treatment. My doctor has suggested that we see a genetic counselor. Can you tell me a little bit about what genetic counselors do?

    • A genetic counselor is a specially trained health professional who works with a couple to determine their risk of passing on an inheritable disease to their baby. The counselor thoroughly investigates the personal and family health history and ancestry of both mother and father. He or she helps the couple interpret information about a particular disorder, learn about inheritance patterns and the risks that a disease will recur, and review available options.

      Genetic counseling is unnecessary for most couples, but it can be very helpful if you fall into one or more risk categories.

  7. Hi Tori -
    I’m 21 wks pregnant and my doctor called me to tell me that my last ultrasound shows that i have placenta previa. He told me that I need to limit my activities and have no intercourse. Does this mean I have to be on bed rest? Does this mean that I cannot have any stimulation at all with my husband? Can I take bubble baths?
    Thank you

    • Hi Lina — Placenta previa occurs when the placenta lies in the lower portion of the uterus, covering or partly covering the cervix. The danger is that when the cervix begins to dilate, the placenta could separate from the uterine wall. The separation could lead to hemorrhage (extremely heavy bleeding) and a reduction in the baby’s blood and oxygen supply.

      To prevent possible further bleeding, it is important to limit your activities or to remain on bed rest. It sounds as though your doctor has not placed you on full bedrest at this time but rather has said that you need to slow down your activities, stop working and minimize the possibility of bleeding. If you have an episode of bleeding, it is likely that he will have you go to complete bedrest.

      DIfficult as it is, it is important not to have intercourse or place anything inside your vagina. Unfortunately, it also means no orgasms for you as orgasm can cause uterine contractions which in turn can cause bleeding. Taking a bubble bath or a bath of any kind is fine.

      Hang in there. Please let me know if other questions come up for you.

  8. Hi.. So this is embarrassing, but really kind of worrying me! So I am almost 26 weeks pregnant with my 2nd child and for the past 2-3 weeks I have been itchy with quite a bit of pain and discomfort on the outer part of my vagina.. When I am sitting, squatting, or going to the restroom I also feel a lot of pressure, like the baby is forcing her way out!! I called my doctors office and they told me to try an over the counter medication for yeast infection, but I have gotten no relief!!! Is this something that can be normal in pregnancy or should I be worrying as much as I am??? Thanks!

  9. Hi Tori,

    My sister is five weeks along and now has fifth disease. What is this and what should we do?

    • Fifth disease is caused by a parvovirus B19. The reason is has it’s name is that it is the fifth in a group of six childhood diseases that cause rash and fever. The symptoms of rash and fever are generally mild and frequently go unnoticed. The virus is also known as “slap cheek” due to reddened cheeks that can occur with the rash.

      Although it is uncommon to develop fifth disease during pregnancy, a pregnant woman should try to stay clear of anyone who is known to have it. Most women are in fact immune, having been infected as children without having been aware of it.

      If a woman is not immune and does contract the virus (such as with your sister) there is a very rare (less than 10%) increased risk of an early miscarriage or a rare form of fetal anemia. It is best that your sister follow her practitioner’s advice in this situation, however, she and her baby are very likely to be unaffected.

  10. I am currently 13 1/2 weeks pregnant with my first baby. I am so excited! When can I expect to start showing? My sister is expecting her third baby close to mine, and she is already wearing maternity clothes.

    • Different women begin to show at different times. When you will start to show depends on your overall body size, your height, your pre-pregnancy weight, and, especially, the length of your midbody. Women with longer midbodies tend to hide their babies longer and look smaller than do other women whose babies are at the same gestational age. Women who have already given birth, as your sister has, tend to show a little earlier in a subsequent pregnancy. How the baby is positioned in the uterus also partly determines how the mother’s body looks.

      Most women have at least a little bump by 15 weeks. At first, though, you and your partner may be the only ones to notice your bump. Often, other people don’t recognize that a woman is pregnant until she is about 20 weeks along. Although I am petite, when I was pregnant with Alexander, I did not develop even a bump until 16 weeks. I wore maternity clothes because I was excited, but I really didn’t need them until I was six months along. Try not to be concerned about comments such as “Oh, you look so small!” (People may be asking your sister, “Wow! Is that just one baby in there?”) No one can tell, just by looking at you, what size your baby is.

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Ask Tori RN®, by registered nurse and resident author of The Joy of Pregnancy, is a helpful and reassuring resource for parents-to-be.

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About Tori Kropp

Tori Kropp

Known as "the Dear Abby of pregnancy," Tori has been interviewed on national television and radio and in national print publications, including CNN, The Wall Street Journal, New York Post, Washington Times, Atlanta Journal Constitution and Chicago Sun-Times.

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