Pregnancy is the start of a new life. But it goes without saying that there is a lot a future mother needs to research and ask her doctor about in order to deliver a healthy baby. From sleeping positions to dieting and exercise, there is a lot at risk for the new mother and the baby. Keep reading to find out what a pregnant woman should discuss with her doctor.
Here at Bright Side, we gathered some interesting facts that all pregnant women should discuss with her doctor while pregnant.
1. Prenatal care
Right after a woman has confirmed with her doctor that she is becoming a mother, it is vital that she does her own research and chooses a gynecologist that she believes suits her best. The gynecologist will then inform her on how to carry on with her healthy pregnancy without any complications and schedule their monthly check-ups to make sure that everything is going according to plan.
This way she will make sure that both her health and the unborn child's health is going well and they will also be able to identify any developmental disorders that may occur at an early stage and prepare accordingly.
The gynecologist will be able to inform her about how her body will change during the first month of her pregnancy and how the fetus is developing. Some gynecologists will prescribe prenatal vitamins, such as folic acid which prevents neural tube defects and ensures a healthy delivery.
2. Learn about your family history and possible inheritable diseases.
Apart from wondering about the obvious like if the baby will inherit the mom's blue eyes or the dad's brown hair, the baby can inherit much more than that and it can be traced back to 7 generations. It is important even before planning to start a family for both parents to research the family history to give to their baby the healthiest start to life possible. Every parent should know if there was a history of developmental disabilities, birth defects or genetic diseases in the family that the baby will likely inherit.
Having that sort of knowledge, parents will be able to address those problems at an early stage. Based on that history, the gynecologists will then refer parents to genetic counseling and then genetic testing to help to identify possible health issues that the baby might have.
3. Foods to eat and avoid before giving birth
The phrase "eating for 2" is accurate when it comes to pregnancy but not in the sense of twice as much food but rather, twice as many nutrients vitamins and minerals. A diet high in iron, calcium, folic acid, and protein is vital as well as some extra calories to ensure that both the mother and the baby are getting all the healthy nutritious food that is required during pregnancy.
It is important to keep in mind that a pregnant woman requires more vitamins and minerals and sometimes supplements cannot compete in any way with a healthy diet. Poor eating habits can increase the risk of gestational diabetes and can lead to health complications during delivery.
Foods to eat:
- Dairy products are high in protein and calcium which are essential for a growing fetus. In addition, it is important to eat yogurt for its probiotic properties.
- Legumes are rich in folate and fiber and they can reduce the risk of birth defects and diseases.
- Sweet potatoes and carrots are an excellent source of beta-carotene which the mother's body then transforms into Vitamin A which aids in the normal production of cells.
- Foods rich in Omega 3s such as salmon is ideal for the development of the brain in a growing fetus.
- Leafy greens contain the most important nutrients for a developing baby since they are rich in iron and fiber.
- Lean meat is a high source of iron, protein, and vitamin B which are important during pregnancy.
- Fish liver oil can provide all omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin A and Vitamin D which are all extremely important during pregnancy and it can be taken as an alternative especially when the mother doesn't eat fish.
- Berries are rich in Vitamin C, fiber, and antioxidants which can help with constipation that occurs during pregnancy.
- Whole grains are rich in fiber, plant compounds, vitamin B, and magnesium which pregnant women require in high amounts.
Foods to avoid:
- Avoid partly cooked or raw eggs which have a risk of salmonella.
- Avoid pâtés since they contain listeria which is dangerous to consume during pregnancy.
- Avoid raw or undercooked meat since there is a high risk of getting toxoplasmosis.
- Avoid cold cured meats such as salami, pepperoni, chorizo, and prosciutto since they contain toxoplasmosis-causing parasites.
- Avoid liver since it is extremely high in Vitamin A and it can harm the fetus.
NOTE: It is important to consult your doctor first about dietary needs and restrictions while pregnant and they will be able to provide a dieting plan for you in order to get all the necessary nutrients and avoid foods that can harm your baby.
4. Find out what exercises are safe to do while pregnant.
Exercising every day can ensure the normal functioning of a pregnant woman's changing body. Since childbirth requires a lot of physical strength and energy it is a must during pregnancy. Staying active can reduce the risk of complications during pregnancy as well as delivery. Even if a mother is not physically active before pregnancy she can start while pregnant. Physical activity can help reduce the discomforts that accompany pregnancy and they help build muscle strength to reduce pregnancy and delivery pain.
Exercises to do:
- Choose aerobic activities that can help your heart beat faster such as walking, swimming, and dancing.
- Take regular breaks when you feel like you are out of breath.
- Drink plenty of water both before and after exercising.
- If you choose to lift weights, go for extremely light weights - like 3 kilos, for example.
- Make sure you breathe out when you are lifting and breathe in while you relax.
Exercises to avoid:
- Avoid heavy weights that can put a strain on your pelvis or lower back.
- Don't hold your breath while exercising, try to breathe normally.
- Avoid exercises that require you to lay on your back.
- Avoid exercises that can cause you to fall.
- Avoid playing any sort of sports that can cause you to get injured.
NOTE: It is important however for pregnant women to consult with their doctor about the types of exercises they need to do during pregnancy and which types of exercises they need to avoid since they can put both their health and the baby's health at risk.
5. Learn about the most suitable sleeping positions.
Tiredness and exhaustion are very common during pregnancy, especially during the first 12 weeks, and there are some sleeping positions that can be dangerous as the pregnancy progresses. According to the National Health Service, the safest sleeping position is to sleep on your left side. Sleeping on your right can compress the IVC which makes it less comfortable for the future mother.
According to research, sleeping on your back after the 28th week of pregnancy can increase the risk of stillbirth. This is because the position limits the blood flow and oxygen provided to the baby. If you wake up on your back you can change your position and sleep on your side. You can also try pregnancy pillows, which you can place between your legs, that can prevent you from rolling over and sleeping on your back.
6. Learn about the benefits of Yoga and self-care
There is no denying that being pregnant can be emotionally and physically stressful. Taking care of a new life inside your body means that whatever you are going through, the baby goes through. So, it’s important to take care of yourself as much as you can and avoid unpleasant situations or situations that make you feel stressed.
According to the National Institute of Health, yoga offers a variety of health benefits to both the body and the mind, especially when it comes to pregnancy, such as:
- It helps you manage the stress that is accompanied by pregnancy.
- It helps you prevent many diseases that can occur during pregnancy. For example, edema, diabetes, or gestational hypertension.
- It improves mood stability.
- It helps eliminate aches.
- It prevents excess weight gain.
- It reduces the amount of anxiety your body goes through during labor.
7. Learn about the Antenatal Transition
The antenatal period is the transition to parenthood and it happens while a woman is still pregnant. There is no fixed month because each person experiences the emotional changes of pregnancy at different times. But, it usually happens after the 3rd or 4th month. During this period, both parents go through significant psychological and social changes while they are trying to understand how to adapt to their new role as parents and the stress increases as the due date approaches.
Parents who are expecting twins or triplets go through more stress than parents who are expecting just one child. This is because they have double or triple responsibilities to cover. In addition, they require more time off to recover from giving birth and they require more help from their spouse and family. Sometimes this can cause a lot of stress to both parents right before giving birth, because they’re trying to figure out how they can handle it all.
Most couples find it hard to communicate with each other during that time without realizing it, but according to experts, this is completely normal. After the baby is born, the stress is eliminated little by little and most couples bounce back to normal in their roles as new parents.
If you experience these changes in your relationship, it is important to understand that what you and your partner are going through is completely normal and that the stress is because you can’t understand what it will be like to be a parent yet. But once your baby is born, you’ll see that everything will come naturally and the stress will be gone.
8. Learn about labor and delivery
Labor is a very emotional experience which requires strong psychological and physical coping mechanisms. It is the most severe pain a woman can go through, but since it's such a life-changing experience the pain is not felt as much by the future mother and it fades over time. According to research, 90% of women find the pain satisfactory 3 months after labor and it is seen as a positive outcome.
However, it is important to consult your gynecologist in order to understand the signs and symptoms of going to labor. The most obvious sign of labor is the frequent contractions that increase in pain and duration as time progresses. Gynecologists recommend that women try walking when they start having contractions to make themselves more comfortable.
Labor pain consists of 2 components:
- The visceral pain which occurs in the early stages of childbirth, when pressure is transmitted to the cervix and causing it to stretch.
- The somatic pain occurs later, during delivery, when the pain is produced by the stretching of the lower birth canal and perineum and is transmitted in the pudendal nerve.
It is extremely important for mothers to be in constant communication with their doctor both before and after delivering their baby and speak to their doctor about any concerns or issues they might have. Always consult your doctor about dieting, exercise, and any activity can harm the baby which might not be very obvious.
Have you ever been pregnant? What advice would you give to future mothers? Please let us know in the comments below.
Preview photo credit nikkireed / Instagram, triplets_of_copenhagen / Instagram