Ten Tips For Pregnancy

December 14, 2007

The number ten has always meant something special to human beings. For example, our entire counting system is set on base ten. There were ten commandments for goodness' sake. Now scientists feel, as difficult as this is to conceive, that there are actually ten dimensions. So when I was writing the list of important considerations in pregnancy, I didn't have to wonder for too long how many might be the right number. Ultimately I chose ten of course, and I did this for an extremely relevant and scientifically significant reason: That's the number of fingers and toes the parents count as their very first perusal of their newborn child. Also, I could stop listing when I got to my last finger. It was late that night.

There are, however, countless considerations, not ten, when it comes to pregnancy. No matter how many books are read, documentaries are watched, or support groups are attended, there's nothing like actually having a baby to demonstrate just how little one may know. I could have found just as easily a hundred...or a thousand. But space is limited, my internet provider tells me. So I present, here, ten really good pointers, and I'll stop there for now.

Pregnancy Tips

     1. Get pregnant for the right reasons. There are a lot of wrong reasons to get pregnant. A child is too important to create for frivolous, careless, or selfish reasons. The decision to have a baby should be based on wanting a child, wanting to raise a child, wanting to make the world better because of how you raise your child. On the other hand, the decision to not become pregnant should not be based on what might happen. If a couple experiences a difficult pregnancy or a miscarriage, they should try again if they want a child, because not all pregnancies are alike. Of course, if the mother's life would be endangered, common sense would then turn one toward contraception until things changed.

     2. Be a good mother and father before conception. This means being a good husband and wife before exposing children to the complex psychodynamics that constitute a marriage. It's best for any future children if the prospective parents are secure in their relationship before making the next leap toward a family.

     3. Be good parents during the conception process. This involves being sensitive to what you expose yourself to during this time. Smoking, alcohol, and drugs are implicated in abnormal pregnancies and pregnancy complications, as well as in miscarriage. Even exposure of such substances for the man can have an impact, so it is best if a safe lifestyle is equally espoused by both prospective parents.

     4. Be a good mother in early pregnancy. Ditto on the smoking, alcohol, and drugs. Your obstetrician can give you a list of medications acceptable in pregnancy. Weeks 6 through 9 (4 through 7 after conception) are crucial to the infant's organ development, so this is the time of highest risk. It is therefore prudent for you and your unborn baby to be evaluated as soon as pregnancy is expected. This is also a time when certain hormone deficiencies that risk miscarriage could be diagnosed and corrected.

     5. Know the warning signals that should prompt a call to your doctor. Bleeding should never be ignored. Although it may be just harmless inflammation at the mouth of the womb (cervicitis), it just might mean a threatened miscarriage. And with miscarriage happening as much as 20% of the time, any bleeding should be evaluated immediately.
     Leakage of fluid can be catastrophic if it's amniotic fluid and not urine. Since it's often impossible to tell the difference, let that be your obstetrician's worry--report it immediately.
     Changes in the amount of fetal movement should also be reported, especially if a woman is high risk due to diabetes, high blood pressure, or other reasons.

     6. Concentrate on good nutrition. High protein, low fat diets are the best way to go. The caloric intake need not be restricted if the right types of food are consumed. Prenatal vitamins also are an excellent idea, preferably started before conception.

     7. Stay active and fit. An exercise regimen before conception need only be modified slightly to avoid undue stress on ligaments and joints which tend to loosen somewhat during pregnancy. The pregnant patient must take care not to get overheated, however, because an increase in the maternal core body temperature may affect the baby's development or heart rate (hot tubs included). But don't be sedentary. Cardiovascular fitness helps labor and delivery substantially. At our Ob-Gyn practice, Women's Health Associates, Dr. Scott Striplin enjoys teaching aerobics classes as a hobby. Fitness in pregnancy has long been a neglected part of obstetrical management, and we, as well as other practices, are happy to be finally filling that gap.

     8. Attend childbirth preparation classes. These fill in all of the blanks that regular physician-obstetrician visits leave. Although it is best if the OB-GYN you choose helps clarify and explain the varied aspects of your pregnancy, there's nothing like the detailed education of childbirth classes--for husband and wife.

     9. Trust your doctor. There have been many self-help books written which encourage a patient to challenge any aspect of her prenatal care. Unfortunately, some authors unilaterally decree which issues are politically correct, be it indications for C-section, usage of labor inducers, or other judgmental considerations. When it comes right down to it, you either trust your doctor or you don't. If you do, you will feel comfortable with the rationale for any decisions to be made. If you don't, you're going to the wrong doctor. But this determination really needs to be made before labor begins or before a crisis occurs. When things are worst is not the time to consider changing doctors. This should be an obvious thing long before the timing becomes awkward.

     10. Appreciate the important things in your life. Realize that you're going to have to put yourself second for a while. Realize that although children are hard work, they give back more than they take. Know that it's not how you have the baby, but how you raise him or her. Besides reading a book on pregnancy, you might also pick up a book on parenting, because after I deliver your baby, my job is over. Yours is just beginning. Good luck.

For more information on your pregnancy check out our pregnancy videos.

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