StorkNet interview with
Ann Douglas
Author of
The Unofficial Guide to Having a Baby, The Mother of All Pregnancy Books,
Trying Again: A Guide to Pregnancy After Miscarriage, Stillbirth, and Infant Loss

Ann Douglas is an award-winning journalist and the author of 21 books, including the best-selling The Mother of All Pregnancy Books (American edition and Canadian edition) and The Mother of All Baby Books (American edition and Canadian edition).

Click here to visit AmazonA parent educator and mother of four, Ann is also the co-author (with John R. Sussman, M.D.) of two other highly popular pregnancy books: The Unofficial Guide to Having a Baby, and Trying Again: A Guide to Pregnancy After Miscarriage, Stillbirth, or Infant Death.

Click here to visit AmazonKnown for her lively anecdotes and real-world advice, Ann is a regular contributor to Erichad Grief Support, one of our sites. She makes frequent appearances on both radio and television and is regularly quoted in such publications as Parenting, Parents, Fit Pregnancy, American Baby, and Working Mother.

Click here to visit AmazonA much sought after speaker who is equally comfortable leading small-group workshops or delivering keynote addresses, Ann is widely recognized for her ability to both entertain and inspire her audiences and to speak to the issues that are of greatest concern to parents today. Click here to read about her upcoming engagements. Please send an e-mail to if you would like to be notified about special events featuring Ann Douglas.

Ann lives in Peterborough, Ontario, with her husband and four children. Visit her webpage!

Ann Douglas is a regular contributor to our Question of the Month feature on Erichad Grief Support, our sister site, dedicated to loving support for bereaved parents. She is also the author of several pregnancy books, some of which are listed in the column to the left. Ann is chatting about all subjects of which she has written, including preconception, pregnancy, birth, postpartum, babies, pregnancy loss, and parenting. Many thanks to Ann Douglas for being our guest.

StorkNet Member: I am 13 weeks pregnant. Is it OK to travel by flights? When would it not be appropriate to travel by flights?

Ann: Commercial air travel is generally considered to be safe for healthy women who are experiencing low-risk pregnancies. Women with severe anemia, sickle cell disease or trait, a history of thrombophlebitis, or placental problems should avoid flying during pregnancy, however.

According to the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology, the best time to travel is between the 18th and 24th weeks of pregnancy. Not only are you likely to be feeling at your best, this is the point in pregnancy at which you are least likely to experience such complications as a miscarriage or premature labor. Most airlines will carry pregnant women up to 36 weeks gestation for domestic flights or up to 32 weeks for international flights. Make sure you check with the airline about its policies before you book your trip and be sure to carry documentation stating your due date.

StorkNet Member: I am having difficulties deciding if I should have an amnio test as it has risks for miscarriage. In considering my age (38) and first pregnancy, I really don't want to have a miscarriage, but I want my baby to be normal and healthy. What do you suggest for the decision making?

Ann: The key factor to consider is what you would do if the test came back positive, indicating that there was a problem with the baby. Would you choose to have an abortion or would you continue with the pregnancy, regardless of what the test revealed? Would you use the remaining weeks of your pregnancy to prepare for the birth of a child with a possibly life-threatening health problem (e.g., possibly giving birth in a facility with world-class neonatal care facilities)? These are the kinds of questions to consider in trying to decide whether or not this type of prenatal testing is the right choice for you. Note: You'll find a detailed discussion on the pros and cons of prenatal testing in The Unofficial Guide to Having a Baby, a book I co-wrote with obstetrician/gynecologist John R. Sussman, MD. (See link to the left.)

Lea: I've had the opportunity to recently meet Ms. Douglas in person through a pregnancy and birth support group in the city where I live. I truly enjoyed talking with and listening to you that evening.

Your book - "The Unofficial Guide to Having a Baby" was a huge help through my pregnancy with my son - it was the ONLY book I found that actually said that it was okay to not have any morning sickness! I don't have a question. Just wanted to say "Thank You!"

Ann: Lea, Thanks so much for your nice note! I'm so glad you found the book to be helpful.

Hugs, Ann.

Sharon: I have a wonderful 1.5 year old cat I'm very attached to. We share the bedroom at bedtime and anytime. Should I let her in the bedroom once Baby arrives? I was thinking of having Baby sleep next to me on a cot or in a basket. I've heard so many horror stories of baby-smothering cats I don't want to risk my first-born.

Ann: Hi, Sharon. It's never a good idea to allow a cat or other family pet to be around a newborn baby unsupervised. So if you're planning to share your room with your baby, you would be best to find a new sleeping arrangement for your cat. Good luck!

Lea: Hi, Ann. I am an active snowmobiler and am currently 10.5 weeks pregnant. I skidooed the first six weeks without knowing I was pregnant. Is it safe to continue?

Ann: I haven't been able to find any specific recommendations about snowmobiling during pregnancy, but my gut instinct tells me that you might want to avoid snowmobiling for now because it tends to be a rather high-risk sport. If you do decide to continue, stick to trails you know very well and don't attempt any risky maneuvers. Of course, this will all be a moot point in a few weeks, now that the nice weather is starting to arrive. Can't do much snowmobiling without snow! :-)

Angela: I just finished reading your book ( Mother of All Pregnancy Books) and found it very helpful. Are there any other symptoms of early pregnancy not listed? I've had some odd burping that results in almost vomiting--not to mention foot cramps and other things. Any advice you could give me would be greatly appreciated. Thanks again.

Ann: Hi Angela - I'm glad you enjoyed my book. I had a lot of fun writing it.

To answer your first question, it sounds like you're experiencing a bit of reflux. Most women don't experience this until much later on in pregnancy, when the uterus starts to exert a lot of pressure on the stomach. It's kind of a pain that you're being bothered by this so early on in pregnancy. Here are some tips on coping with this particular complaint.

It's also possible that you're swallowing a lot of air in order to try to manage any nausea you may be experiencing -- a very common way of coping with morning sickness.

To answer your second question, foot cramps tend to be more of a problem later on in pregnancy. You can find some tips on coping with them on this page.

Hope Mother Nature gives you a bit of a break when it comes to the other aches and pains of pregnancy. Ann

Melissa: I am currently 32 weeks pregnant. My question pertains to vaginal infection. Prior to getting pregnant I dealt with chronic yeast and bacterial infections, and since about 25 weeks of pregnancy till now I have been experiencing a very strong odor, but no itching or soreness. I have mentioned this to my doctor and he told me that the discharge from pregnancy does have an odor and that I shouldn't worry about it. But I still do. Is there an obvious sign I need to recognize here between the two? Thank you!

Ann: Hi Melissa - You can find some excellent advice on vaginal discharge during pregnancy (e.g., what's normal, what's not) on this web page. As a rule of thumb, you only need to be concerned if you're experiencing a lot of burning or itching or if the discharge is greenish or foul smelling. It's normal for your discharge to be thicker and more abundant. It kind of goes with the whole pregnancy turf! :-) Ann

Casey: Ann, I think I'm pregnant but my test came out negative. I had my period after the last time my husband and I had sex. Is it possible to have had my period and still be pregnant? I am over 18 days late. Thanks. Casey

Ann: Hi, Casey. It is possible, though rare, to continue having periods once you are pregnant. In this case, your period would usually be lighter and/or shorter than normal. You might want to re-test again using a home pregnancy test or arrange to have a blood pregnancy test done at your doctor's office. Good luck! Ann

Amanda: Dear Ann, I'm 23 years old and this is my first pregnancy. Neither of my grandmothers nor my direct relatives have had serious complications during their pregnancies nor have they miscarried. I was just wondering... what is the risk or time frame for highest risk of miscarriage when you're in your first trimester, specifically week five or six? I 'm so scared I will be doing something wrong. It's almost making me nervous and stressed out. I don't want my nerves to drive me what do you suggest? Yours truly, Amanda

Ann: Hi, Amanda. Miscarriages are most likely to occur before the eighth week of pregnancy. After that, the risk begins to decrease. After the end of the first trimester, the risk of miscarriage is very small. I hope this helps to reassure you. Good luck to you and baby-to-be! Ann

Jocelyn: Hi Ann, I am a concerned "mom to be." I've had two miscarriages in the past and I'm five weeks pregnant now. I know that there is nothing I can do to really prevent it from happening again, or is there? I guess I just need some reassurance that everything is going to be ok this time. We are really scared, but very excited in the mean time. Is there any advice you can give me? Thanks in advance. Jocelyn

Ann: Hi, Jocelyn. While the key cause of miscarriage--a problem with the developing baby--is outside your control, there are a few things you can do to put the odds in your baby's favor, like ensuring that you're consuming an adequate amount of folic acid (your doctor or midwife can advise you on the amount that is appropriate for you, given your family and reproductive history); refraining from smoking, drinking, and taking harmful drugs; and avoiding exposure to environmental toxins. Other than that, you have to take a leap of faith--a very hard thing to do, I know, when you've experienced heartbreak in the past. I wrote an article on weathering the emotional rollercoaster ride associated with a subsequent pregnancy a few years ago. You can find it and other articles I've written on miscarriage/stillbirth by visiting the articles page of my web site: Ann

Denise: I had an early miscarriage 9 weeks ago, and was 8 weeks along. I still haven't had my period. I've been told that 4 - 6 weeks is the normal waiting time. Should I be concerned?

Ann: Hi, Denise. Four to six weeks is the typical waiting period, but some women do take a little longer. If your cycles were irregular before your miscarriage or exceptionally long, it may take longer to get your first post-miscarriage period. I'm sorry you're having to deal with this added frustration on top of your miscarriage. Ann

Joanna: I miscarried at 11 weeks three months ago. I was devastated! After two menstrual cycles, I got pregnant again. After seven days late for my period I took a HPT. After three minutes it showed negative, but after 30 it was positive. A few days later I took another test and it said positive. However, I am six weeks pregnant now and I do not feel any different compared to my first pregnancy where I was wiped out with morning sickness and all. Why do you think I am not feeling any symptoms yet? Is it possible that I am not pregnant at all?

Ann: Hi, Joanna. It's normal to feel a lot of anxiety when you're pregnant again after a previous miscarriage. (I wrote an entire article on this subject. You can find it here. You can also find other articles I've written about miscarriage here.) Don't let the absence of nausea convince you that there's a problem. I only experience morning sickness during one of the four pregnancies that resulted in the birth of a living child. While morning sickness is common, it's not a universal experience for moms-to-be (thankfully!) and it's quite common for a mom to experience it during some--but not all--of her pregnancies. I hope this helps to reassure you. Hugs, Ann

Sara: My sister found out she was pregnant when she was four to five weeks along. We are all worried because she was drinking, smoking cigarettes, and snorted cocaine on a couple of occasions. She says she has stopped all of that since finding out. We know there are risks. Is it guaranteed that the baby will have problems? Does it matter the amount of drugs and alcohol she took? Since she's stopped, is there still hope for the baby?

Ann: Hi, Sara. While it's always best to avoid exposing a baby to these types of substances prior to birth, it's terrific that your sister stopped engaging in such risky behaviors the moment she found out she was pregnant. It's impossible to predict ahead of time whether or not her baby will have been affected by her substance abuse, but some babies do luck out and beat some pretty amazing odds. I hope your future niece or nephew will be this fortunate. You might be interested in reading this tip sheet on cocaine use during pregnancy and in checking out the information on smoking and alcohol use during pregnancy on the March of Dimes web site. Ann

Nikki: I just found out that I am pregnant (February 13). I do not have regular periods. They have been abnormal for over a year. How do I find out how far along I am and if this is safe for the baby?

Ann: Hi, Nikki. Your doctor or midwife will likely order an ultrasound in order to determine how far along your pregnancy is and to pinpoint your due date. It's important to date your pregnancy accurately in order to avoid inducing labor too soon or allowing your pregnancy to continue too long--both of which could pose risks to your baby. Once your dates have been established, you can relax and enjoy your pregnancy!

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