Congratulations on your pregnancy! Whether you’re a first-time mom or a mom of multiple children, you may be experiencing some level of excitement, anticipation, anxiety and/or fear. Most women experience one or all of these emotions at some point during their pregnancies. You also may be feeling exhausted and dealing with bouts of nausea.
At Parkland Health Center, we understand all of the feelings, emotions and physical changes that come with pregnancy. We know it can be particularly overwhelming, so be sure to give yourself some time to adjust. And remember: the most important thing you can do is to take care of yourself and listen to your Ob/Gyn for guidance.
This starts with scheduling your first prenatal appointment with your Ob/Gyn, who will review your medical history, confirm the pregnancy, conduct routine bloodwork, prescribe prenatal vitamins, answer any questions that you may have, and advise you of what to expect throughout the coming months. You may also have your first ultrasound at this time, where you can see your baby in embryonic form.
You’ll also schedule subsequent monthly prenatal appointments, so your doctor can monitor you and your baby throughout the course of your pregnancy. These prenatal appointments are critical to help prevent and/or manage potential complications such as gestational diabetes, preeclampsia and placenta previa.
Your Ob/Gyn may recommend a number of prenatal screenings throughout your pregnancy, including:
- 3D ultrasounds to evaluate your baby’s development at various stages throughout the pregnancy
- Blood tests in the first and second trimesters to check your immunization levels and screen for any abnormalities
- Glucose testing at the end of the second trimester to screen for gestational diabetes
- Group B Streptococcus (GBS) screening in the third trimester to test for this common bacteria, which can be harmful to babies born vaginally and who have weaker immune systems. Fortunately, GBS can be easily treated with antibiotics during your labor.
If you’re over 35; pregnant with multiples; have a pre-existing condition; or had prior pregnancy complications, you may be considered high-risk. Some pregnancies become high risk as they progress, while some women are at increased risk for complications before they even get pregnant.
If you’re considered high risk, there may be some additional medical care and screenings that your doctor will recommend. Our providers offer high-risk obstetrical care for a variety of conditions – including pre-existing conditions such as diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure; advanced age; multiples; etc. – and consult with maternal-fetal medicine specialists across BJC HealthCare, as needed.
With the COVID-19 pandemic, our Ob/Gyns are offering virtual visits on a limited basis. These can be used if you have questions or issues that arise in between your monthly checkups and/or after you deliver. Please note: your doctor will still want to see you in-person for your regular prenatal appointments, which are critical for monitoring you and your baby’s vitals and development. Talk to your doctor to learn more about their prenatal and post-partum virtual visits offering.
Nutrition and Exercise
Your Ob/Gyn will outline some guidelines for a healthy pregnancy, which may include the following:
- Take a daily prenatal vitamin
- Eat a well-balanced diet
- Eat no more than two servings of seafood per week (due to mercury levels in some fish)
- Drink plenty of water (8 – 8oz. servings per day)
- Get enough sleep (aim for 8 hours per night)
- Exercise daily (with your doctor’s permission)
Following a safe exercise routine throughout your pregnancy is also important. It’s a great way to help relieve stress and better cope with labor. However, you should always consult with your doctor before engaging in any strenuous exercise program and avoid any physical activity that could cause injury, such as skiing or horseback riding.
The following are typically considered safe exercise options for pregnant women:
- Low-impact aerobics
- Bicycling on a stationary bike
We recommend that all expectant moms and partners participate in childbirth preparation classes, which can give you a better idea of what to expect, while putting your mind at ease. Breastfeeding classes can also be valuable if you’re planning to breastfeed your baby.
At Parkland Health Center, we offer these two classes at the hospital every month to help expectant parents as they prepare for childbirth and parenthood in general. Currently, these classes are available online only.
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