Finding out about a pregnancy can be the most exciting and overwhelming time in a woman’s life. There are certain discussions every pregnant woman should have with her doctor, and the following questions can help clarify certain doubts.
- Are My Symptoms Normal?
Every pregnancy can look different, and as your first trimester begins, a common question many women may have is whether they are supposed to feel a specific way or if something is wrong. Many pregnancy symptoms are not very enjoyable, but they are entirely normal and can be signs of a healthy pregnancy. However, while complications are rare, symptoms such as vaginal spotting, persistent vomiting in the early stages of pregnancy, consistent headaches, or acute abdominal pain in the later stages may signal that something is wrong. Therefore, it is always good to ask your doctor what to expect.
- How Should I Prepare For Delivery?
It is essential to have a birth plan in mind well before your due date. Making your wishes known in advance can help reduce chaos as you near delivery. Most women choose to have their babies delivered by obstetricians, while some may prefer a midwife or doula. The doctor you choose can play a large role throughout your pregnancy and during birth, so it is important to choose an experienced and educated one. While uncommon, cases of medical malpractice may affect your baby’s health. Improper use of delivery tools such as forceps or vacuum extractors and improper techniques such as pulling too hard on a baby’s feet or shoulders during delivery can result in injury, so it is important to have a board-certified OB-GYN or maternal-fetal medicine specialist chosen as your due date approaches.
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- Are There Any Foods And Activities I Should Avoid?
Most pregnant women can continue with their everyday activities and only need to make small lifestyle changes. Doctors agree that you should not be drinking alcohol or large amounts of caffeine while pregnant, as these can result in physical or intellectual disabilities in the baby. Similarly, most pregnant women are advised to avoid contact sports or any activity that increases the risk of falling. Hormonal changes during pregnancy cause your ligaments to become weaker, and your center of gravity shifts as your belly grows. Together, these factors increase your risk of injury. Any jarring motion during contact sports may also result in placental abruption.
As for food, avoid consuming unwashed fruits and vegetables, unpasteurized juice and dairy, and certain lunch meats, as these items may contain listeria, which is a bacteria that can cross the placenta and may be deadly to the fetus. Similarly, avoid eating fish that is high in mercury, such as swordfish and mackerel. Exposing the fetus to mercury may result in damage to the nervous system or hearing and vision problems.
- What Medication Is Safe For Me To Take?
It is generally best to avoid most over-the-counter (OTC) and prescription medicines. You may be advised to avoid Ibuprofen or other NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs), ACE inhibitors, and certain cold medicines. For other medicines, such as antidepressants, lithium for bipolar disorder, phenytoin for seizures, and albuterol for asthma, you can weigh the risks and benefits with your doctor and determine whether it is safe to continue taking them.
- Should I Be Experiencing Any Mental Symptoms?
It is perfectly normal to have emotional ups and downs during your pregnancy. Most expecting mothers experience feelings of anticipation or concern as the due date draws closer. However, if you are consistently feeling sad or worried to the point where it is causing you to feel distressed, you may be experiencing signs of antenatal depression or anxiety. It can be tempting to ignore such symptoms or attribute them to hormonal changes during the pregnancy, but it is always better to ask for help. Make sure to inform your doctor if you have any past or pre-existing mental health conditions so that you can receive the appropriate support and treatment.
- Do I Need To Take Any Special Genetic Tests?
Certain genetic abnormalities can be diagnosed before birth. Your doctor may recommend taking specific genetic tests if either parent has a family history of genetic disorders. You can also choose genetic screening if you have previously had a baby with a genetic disorder. Prenatal genetic screening can test the mother’s blood or use findings from ultrasounds to screen the fetus for aneuploidy and detect defects of the brain and spine, as well as any defects of the heart or abdomen. Having genetic screening tests is not a mandatory practice, but it can help you anticipate and prepare for your baby in a more comprehensive manner, allowing you to make informed decisions during your pregnancy.
- Are There Any Other Specialists I Need To See?
Your obstetrician will be your main doctor, as they are trained in providing medical and surgical care to pregnant women. However, you may also need to see other specialists during the course of your pregnancy. You might encounter a dietician if you have diabetes. In this case, the dietician will help you eat healthily during your pregnancy. Another specialist you might meet is an anaesthetician who deals with providing epidurals or other forms of pain relief during labor. You may also see a physiotherapist to increase your body’s mobility and help with pain, along with muscle, bone, and joint problems that arise during pregnancy.
- Is My Pregnancy High-Risk?
A high-risk pregnancy may be one that raises the chances of health complications or pre-term delivery. Your pregnancy may be considered high-risk if you have a history of miscarriage, pre-term labor, or caesarian section. Many women with high-risk pregnancies have safe and healthy outcomes, but it is important to stay informed about your symptoms and have a proactive birth plan. For example, you may need to ensure that you deliver your baby at a hospital that has a good Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU).
Don’t hesitate to call your healthcare provider if you are unsure about anything. Pregnancy is a tough experience, and being informed can help reduce anxiety and make you better prepared to become a parent. Sometimes, the questions may not result in the answer you want, so make sure to ask again until your queries are satisfied.