Pregnancy can be one of the most exciting and important times in a woman's life, filled with anticipation of the arrival of the newest part of the family.
With all of the planning for the newborn, it is easy to overlook the importance of the mother's health during her pregnancy. A healthy pregnancy is a key factor in a safe delivery.
A pregnant woman should be up-to-date with health screening exams such as pap smears, a screening for cervical cancer. Blood work is done in order to identify possible conditions that may lead to pregnancy concerns or complications. Your provider can assist you in making sure appropriate tests are ordered for your situation.
There are two vaccines recommended during pregnancy. The influenza vaccine (flu shot) should be administered to women who are pregnant or will deliver during flu season (usually October to May). The Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis) vaccine has been recommended by national health experts in the past few years due to a recent increase in pertussis (whooping cough) cases, which can be deadly for newborns. Both of these vaccines have been proven safe during pregnancy.
Your provider will recommend prenatal vitamins with folic acid and DHA. Other medications, including routine prescriptions or over-the-counter medicines, need to be addressed with your provider, as certain medicines that are safe for you are not safe for your baby.
The phrase “eating for two,” while an appealing idea, is not what is recommended for a pregnant woman to have suitable weight gain in pregnancy. In fact, depending on your pre-pregnancy weight, it may be preferable to gain as little as 11 pounds during pregnancy. Excessive weight gain can increase the risk of certain complications such as diabetes, high blood pressure and the need for cesarean delivery. Lack of appropriate weight gain has been linked to low-birth weight infants.
Avoiding alcohol, illicit drugs and tobacco can support a healthy pregnancy. Use during pregnancy increases risks of prematurity, still birth and birth defects. If you do have a substance abuse problem, being open and honest with your provider allows a treatment plan to minimize risks to the developing baby.
While all of this may seem overwhelming, your provider can assist you in deciding how these guidelines apply to your situation. Prenatal care is a vital part of having a healthy pregnancy for mom and baby.
Dr. Marie Scott-Finley, an OB/GYN physician with Baptist Health Medical Group Women’s Care Lexington, practices at Baptist Health Lexington.