Planning is key to healthy pregnancy
By Betty Russell, Pure Matters
Whether you're planning to become one of the 6 million American women who become pregnant each year or already are pregnant, the healthy choices you make before and during pregnancy can have a lasting impact on you and your unborn child.
Planning your pregnancies
Experts say one of the most important things a woman or couple can do is to plan for pregnancy.
When you’re ready to welcome a child into the world, experts recommend you take these steps, before you try to conceive, to help ensure you'll have a safe delivery and a healthy baby:
- See a doctor or certified nurse-midwife for a pre-pregnancy exam that includes a pelvic exam, a pap smear, a review of your medical and family history, vaccinations you may need, medications and herbs you take, any past pregnancies you've had, your diet and lifestyle, and, if needed, screening for genetic conditions such as cystic fibrosis, Tay-Sachs Disease, and sickle cell disease.
- Stop smoking.
- Eat a healthy, balanced diet.
- Exercise regularly.
- Get adequate sleep.
- Reduce stress.
- Maintain a healthy weight before becoming pregnant and follow your doctor's or certified nurse-midwife's instructions on healthy weight gain during pregnancy.
- Take 400 mcg of folic acid daily, beginning at least three months before planning to become pregnant.
- Treat and control medical problems, such as diabetes and high blood pressure.
- Talk with your doctor about the safety of any medications you take.
- Avoid alcohol.
As soon as you suspect you're pregnant, make an appointment to see a doctor or certified nurse-midwife. Experts say healthy pregnancy outcomes are linked to early prenatal care.
Your doctor can give you advice about diet, prenatal vitamins, exercise, and other issues that may affect you and your baby, and help prevent and/or treat pregnancy-related complications.
Choose the right care
These questions will help you find a doctor or certified nurse-midwife and hospital that meet your pregnancy and delivery needs:
- Where does the doctor or certified nurse-midwife admit his or her patients for delivery? Is he or she in your health insurance plan network?
- What are the after-hours and on-call procedures?
- How many people can be present for labor and delivery?
- Will you undergo labor and delivery in the same room or go to a birthing room for delivery?
- What are the policies on visitation and siblings?
- Does the baby stay in the same room with you?
- Are rooms private or semiprivate?
- What breast-feeding support services are available?
- What level of care can the hospital provide to sick newborns?
Distributed by Internet Broadcasting. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.