Because many women do not realize they’re pregnant until several weeks into their pregnancies, taking steps early makes all the difference.
Prepare Yourself Now
Leaving your unhealthy behavior behind before pregnancy will make the nine months following conception much easier. If you smoke, quit as soon possible—whether you are pregnant or not, smoking poses major health risks. Cut down your alcohol consumption to a minimum, and after you begin trying to conceive, stop the drinking altogether.
As you prepare to become pregnant, amp up your diet by adding plenty of vegetables, fruits, leafy greens and calcium-rich foods. These whole foods provide valuable nutrients for you and your baby. Skip the coffee and sodas—your caffeine consumption should be lowered to one soda or two cups of coffee daily. You should also aim for a healthy weight before conceiving, which will help eliminate weight-related problems that can arise during pregnancy. Your physician may also recommend taking prenatal vitamins that supplement your healthy diet with vitamins and folic acid, a nutrient that helps your baby develop in the womb and reduces the risk of birth defects.
Becoming pregnant doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be physically active. Exercise is healthful and encouraged before and during pregnancy. You should always keep the intensity at a suitable level to avoid becoming dehydrated or overheated. Dr. Robert (Bob) Chin, Obstetrician at East Arkansas Medical Group’s OB/GYN Clinic, can recommend forms of exercise and activity levels.
Your OB Provider
Your Obstetrician will be your partner during your pregnancy, so speak with Dr. Chin about your desires to become pregnant, and ask for medical advice based on your personal history. Knowing your medical history, any preexisting conditions and your pregnancy goals can help him guide your family in the right direction. You may also see your Primary Care Provider (PCP) for a pre-pregnancy check-up visit and immunizations.
Preventing Pre-term Birth
Near the end of pregnancy, many organs, including the brain and lungs, are still taking shape. Babies born too soon—before 37 weeks of gestation—are at risk for a variety of health problems, even death. A baby should be born between 39 weeks, zero days gestation and 40 weeks, six days gestation to have the healthiest start at life.* Babies born before or after that time frame are less likely to experience optimal outcomes.
It is impossible to achieve immunity from preterm labor and birth; many risk factors, such as a history of preterm labor, being pregnant with multiple babies and a variety of medical conditions that may develop during pregnancy—including diabetes, obesity, hypertension, and vaginal and urinary tract infections—can cause a woman to give birth before 37 weeks of pregnancy.
Do your part to prevent preterm labor and birth by modifying the factors within your control: Avoid smoking and drinking alcohol, mitigate stress, solicit emotional support and practical help from friends and family, and stay on schedule with medical appointments. Taking action to avoid preterm labor may spare your child the challenges of early birth, including difficulty breathing, abnormal heart rate and jaundice. It is never too early to start being a great mom. Talk to Dr. Bob Chin about your pregnancy and how to make it the best experience for both baby and you. Schedule an appointment today by calling 870-630-9934.
* American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine