The Unofficial Guide to Pregnancy
As a woman, you make many decisions during your pregnancy that may seem mundane. Whether it’s deciding to read the latest and greatest “how to” book or opting to follow a diet strictly comprised of organic goodness, you as the expectant mom have many choices and decisions to make. In today’s world of information overload, pregnant women are being told to “do this, not that” daily making it a challenge to figure out how to properly manage the 40 +/- weeks of pregnancy.
Truth be told, with regard to pregnancy and childbirth, there is no one right way or wrong way to go about it all, but there are standards that should be followed. It is the obstetrician’s goal to ensure a healthy pregnancy and delivery, all while establishing a trusting relationship with expectant moms and their partners.
The first order of business is to ensure that you have an obstetrician. Some women chose based on friend’s recommendation, insurance coverage or location preference. Whatever drives the decision know that the sooner you have an obstetrician, the better, as these appointments assist in the monitoring of your health as well as the progress of your pregnancy. “You will meet with your doctor every month or so depending on your needs, says Dr. Barbara Stricker-Friedman, board certified obstetrician and gynecologist. “As you get closer to your due date, these visits will increase to every two weeks and ultimately every week. Use these visits as an opportunity to establish a strong relationship with your provider. Have candid discussions about your wishes for labor and delivery and be sure to address any concerns or questions you may have about your pregnancy.”
Pregnant women constantly hear, “you’re eating for two now,” While this statement is somewhat true, it does not mean that you should double your caloric intake. In reality, a pregnant woman should only increase her calorie consumption by approximately 300 calories. Dr. Earline Llewellyn, board certified obstetrician and gynecologist suggests that expectant moms be mindful of their food choices. “When making food choices, you should be aware of where your calories are coming from. Chose a diet that consists of well-balanced meals and includes proteins, iron, calcium and folic acid. While indulging every now and then is okay, you should avoid foods with “empty calories” such as candy, soda, ice cream and fried foods. Remember, what you consume provides the main nutrition source for your growing baby.”
Exercise During Pregnancy
“Exercise during your pregnancy can assist in reducing back pain, easing constipation and decreasing your risk for developing gestational diabetes,” says Dr. Anayda DeJesus-Cruz, board certified obstetrician and gynecologist. “It can also improve your overall fitness level with the added benefit of aiding in weight loss after your baby is born.” As with every exercise program, it is important to have a discussion with your doctor to ensure that it is considered safe for you and your pregnancy. Unless your obstetrician advises otherwise, The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology recommends that moms-to be should exercise, ie: walk, swim or cycle for at least 30 minutes per day.
Quit Smoking & Drinking Alcohol
“The dangers of smoking and drinking excessive amounts of alcohol while pregnant are well documented. If you are a smoker, keep in mind that smoking exposes your baby to harmful and toxic chemicals and can further result in less oxygen and nutrients delivered to your baby,” says Dr. Matthew Rogalski, board certified obstetrician and gynecologist. “Babies born to mothers who smoke tend to be smaller and are likely to develop other health conditions such as asthma. Smoking mothers are also at a higher risk for preterm labor.” If you are pregnant and smoking, tell your doctor. He or she will work with you to find support groups and quitting programs. Drinking alcohol when pregnant poses its own set of dangers as the unborn baby’s liver is not equipped to breakdown alcohol. Drinking alcohol while pregnant can cause physical, mental, behavioral and learning disabilities for a baby. Pregnancy offers expectant moms the ability to assess their smoking and drinking habits for at least nine months and hopefully longer.
Identify Your Birth Plan
“A birth plan provides a woman with an active voice on how she wants to welcome her child into the world,” says Lawrence Greb, MD, Chief of Obstetrics and Gynecology. “It is especially useful in keeping the doctor and nurses aware of patient wishes during the labor process.” Regardless of whether or not an expectant woman is writing a birth plan, having an early discussion with her practitioner can provide insight to the risks and benefits of certain birthing wishes and ensure that they can be accommodated.
When developing a plan, women should educate themselves on the options available throughout all stages of labor and delivery. A tour of the facility can assist in learning about the specific options available for pain control, birthing positions and newborn care. While there are pre-fabricated birth plans available, a one to two page personalized plan provides greater insight for the labor and delivery team. A birth plan can be vague or very specific but should address things that are important to the parents.
As an expectant parent the best place to start is with an open dialogue with your provider. "The most important thing is to listen to your patients, while always putting the safety of mom and baby first. The key is communication" Says Dr. Ralph Philosophe, board certified obstetrician and gynecologist. Always keep in mind that despite having a detailed plan, one must be flexible and expect the unexpected. Very few women want to have a cesarean section, however, it is beneficial to be prepared for the possibility. Doctors and nurses will do all they can to follow the families wishes but will not jeopardize safety. Should complications ever arise, Sturdy has a strong relationship with the Neonatology Services of Women & Infants Hospital of Rhode Island which provides 24/7 coverage.”
Sturdy Memorial Hospital provides expectant moms with experienced, board certified obstetricians who work with you to provide individualized, quality prenatal care. To learn more or to schedule an appointment please call OB/GYN ASSOCIATES OF ATTLEBORO at (508) 222-3200 or THE FOXBORO CENTER FOR WOMEN’S & FAMILY HEALTH at (508) 698-0011.