By Scott Chudnoff, MD, Chair of Obstetrics & Gynecology
Prepare for Childbirth
Stamford Health offers programs and education for preconception and pregnancy.
You may be thinking about starting a family or adding to your family. Or, you may simply be wondering what factors to take into account should you want to become pregnant in the near future. From pre-conception through your baby’s early stages in life, it’s important to have a go-to check list.
Dr. Scott Chudnoff reveals 10 important guidelines to consider for pregnancy.
1. Get a full physical.
Go to your primary care physician and get a clean bill of health before you start thinking of getting pregnant. He or she may recommend next steps, like specific blood tests or weaning off certain medications or changing up various routines in your lifestyle.
2. Find the right OB-GYN.
This may seem obvious, but jump on this step sooner than later. It’s critical to establish a trusting relationship with the doctor who will (hopefully) deliver your baby once the time comes. Choose a provider.
3. Eat healthy. Feel healthy.
As with anything, talk with your doctor about a diet tailored to your needs. Generally, the FDA recommends daily guidelines of 2-3 servings of foods rich in calcium; 7 servings of fruits and veggies; 2 servings of lean proteins and 6 servings of grains: ideally whole-grain breads, brown rice or cereals. Make sure you keep your fluids in check; drink at least 8 glasses of water a day and cut out the caffeine as much as possible.
4. Weight matters.
Everyone’s “normal” for weight gain varies. Make sure you’re clear from the beginning on the amount of weight needed to keep yourself healthy before and during your pregnancy. Work with your OB-GYN to monitor your weight on a consistent basis. It may help to keep track of what you eat every week.
5. Exercise helps.
Like many things, it’s all about the perfect balance. You can and should continue with your preferred exercise routine, as long as you have clearance from your doctor to do so. Consider group classes for expectant mothers such as stress reduction, body alignment and one-on-one personal training sessions.
6. Eliminate the toxins.
Aside from caffeine, let us state the obvious: no drinking, smoking or consumption of drugs that can cause birth defects. Talk to your doctor about avoiding specific household chemicals, fumes, pesticides and other potentially harmful substances as well.
7. Educate yourself.
Everyone’s experience with trying to conceive or being pregnant is different. Make sure you know what maternity services are available to accommodate your individual set of circumstances. You may also want to consider an array of classes from childbirth prep and infant care, to breast feeding and sibling tours.
8. Be honest at work.
In an ideal world, we’d all be master compartmentalizers, but sometimes it feels impossible to “leave home at home” and “leave work at work.” Remember this: Any reasonable supervisor will understand that your health comes first. If you feel overwhelmed, approach conversations candidly. Share only what you’re comfortable revealing.
9. Evaluate your finances.
Having children is a lifetime commitment, so first, decide if you can live comfortably off one income, or if two is necessary. If you’re indeed going back to work, make sure you’re clear on both your company’s compensation policy and flex time for maternity leave. Ideally, your insurance would fully cover both prenatal care and delivery. Start looking into life insurance policies with your partner. The expertise of a financial planner or accountant may also be helpful in weighing options like savings plans, nannies, daycare and other expenses.
10. Set relationship expectations.
Whether you’re trying to conceive or close to full-term pregnancy, your body and mind are likely going through many changes. Sometimes, this can put a strain on your personal relationships. Have an honest heart-to-heart with your spouse or other children about what to expect. Or, seek family counseling if you think you need professional help. Communication is key.
No matter where you are in the process, you’re making a life-changing decision for yourself and for your loved ones. Don’t feel guilty about taking extra time for you. Stay with or rediscover the hobbies you love and pamper yourself once in a while, too. Take care of your mind and body.
Featured Expert/ Author