Almost 4 million new births are added to the U.S. population each year. That equates to 12.4 out of 1,000 residents, and almost 10% of those births are preterm. An average of 6 out of every 1,000 births end up suffering a birth defect or traumatic birth injury, and many of those are preterm deliveries. Consequences of early deliveries can be as common as jaundice and anemia. But preterm deliveries can also result in long-term problems such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and cerebral palsy. Many birth defects or birth injuries can be avoided altogether if the parents simply gain the right knowledge before the child is born. But what questions should every pregnant woman ask her doctor?
What Diet Should I Follow and What Vices Should I Avoid?
Regardless of what Hollywood movies and the media claim, eating for two is not necessary during pregnancy. But eating correctly is. Natural fruit, green vegetables, calcium-rich foods, and whole grains are great for fetal development and growth. Cut back on fish and eliminate high-mercury options such as raw fish, shark, and swordfish. Also, cut out soft cheese and deli meats as they often contain dangerous bacteria. Avoid all alcohol during pregnancy, stop smoking if you haven’t, and quite the caffeine habit at least during the first trimester.
How Much Weight Should I Expect or Plan to Gain?
Pregnancy is a time when you actually need to gain some weight to ensure a healthy child. Gain too little, and your risk factors for premature labor increase along with higher chances of a birth defect or traumatic birth injury. Pregnancy weight gain recommendations are based on individual needs, and your doctor will be able to pinpoint the correct number for your specific situation. But gestational weight gain is based on the mother’s body mass index at the time of conception. So depending on your body’s condition and your current activity level, a professional suggestion of anywhere between 11 and 40 pounds is to be expected.
What Activities Should I Do or Avoid?
Pregnancy isn’t just a time to put your feet up and let everyone else pamper you. There will be plenty of time for that towards the end of the pregnancy. But if you were active prior to conception, you should continue during the gestational period… to a point. Avoid heavy exercise and don’t attempt to run a marathon. But light to moderate activity is beneficial to you and your child. Avoid lying on your back from the second trimester on. Stay out of hot tubs and saunas due to the extreme heat. And become a hand washing warrior to combat germs during your pregnancy. As for sex, anything that doesn’t cause pain or discomfort is usually fine.
What Screenings and Special Tests Should I Need or Expect?
There are several routine screenings and tests that every pregnant woman will need undergo. These include ultrasounds, amniocentesis, and urine and blood labs for preeclampsia, anemia, diabetes, hepatitis, and HIV/AIDS. However, for older pregnant women, those with genetic pre-dispositions, or difficult/high-risk pregnancies, their doctor may recommend genetic testing. Cytomegalovirus and antibody testing may also be ordered for those who have been exposed to certain viruses. These tests are generally inexpensive and covered by most insurance. Moreover, they may help you deliver a healthy child and avoid needing to contact a birth injury attorney for avoidable birth complications.