Whether you are a new parent or welcoming another addition to an already growing family, each pregnancy is unique. Nine months happens in a flash, so it’s important to make sure you don’t overlook any important milestones along the way. Here is only a few of the many things you can expect; be sure to use these guidelines when scheduling events and appointments along the way to the big day.
- Find an obstetrician. If this is your first pregnancy or you don’t have an obstetrician, reach out to your friends and family members for recommendations. Pay an office visit and before you agree on the doctor, be sure the practice takes your insurance. Don’t forget to ask about where the doctor has delivery privileges.
- Be an open book. When you meet with your obstetrician, be sure to detail as much of your health history as possible. Be honest about previous pregnancies and their outcomes, as well as any health conditions or concerns.
- Make lifestyle changes. While you may think you have carte blanche to eat for two, just focus on eating healthy, although it might not hurt to up the intake of whole grains, fresh fruits and veggies, as well as daily intake of water. Avoid alcohol and tobacco products, and be sure to stay active.
- Discuss plans. You and your partner are a team. So it’s important to be realistic about what the pregnancy and beyond will entail. Examine finances and start to budget for the near- and far-term. Who do you want to tell about the pregnancy? Do you want to learn the baby’s gender? What happens if the mom-to-be needs bedrest or time off? Conversation should be ongoing and honest.
- Undergo first trimester testing; these tests will determine any risk of the fetus having certain birth defects. These screens may be performed alone or in combination with other tests and include:
(1) the nuchal translucency screening, an ultrasound test that examines the area at the back of the fetal neck for increased fluid or thickening.
(2) the pregnancy-associated plasma protein (PAPP-A) screening to examine the proteins produced by placenta in the early stages of pregnancy; and
(3) the human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) to check for hormones associated with chromosome abnormalities.
- Visit your dentist. If you are experiencing morning sickness, the constant vomiting can wreak havoc on your teeth. Likewise, your gums may be weakening due to the many changes taking place. Make an appointment to see your dentist and be sure to let him know you are pregnant. Seeing a dentist regularly throughout your pregnancy is perfectly safe and encouraged.
The first trimester is considered a risky time, when couples prefer not to reveal their pregnancy for fear of miscarriage or dashed expectations. By month four, however, baby is starting to thrive and you may be starting to “show.” Here are some suggestions of what to consider during months four through six.
- Start to leak the news. With a baby bump and expanding wardrobe, hiding your secret is becoming harder and harder. Start to tell close family and friends about the “big news;” if you have younger children you may want to explain to them why mommy is tired or not feeling well, and that a new brother or sister may be joining the family soon.
- Start to develop your birthing team. Do you want to birth at home or a hospital? Will you enlist the help of a midwife or doula? What about birthing classes like Lamaze? Work with your obstetrician to create a birthing environment where you, your partner and baby all are safe and happy.
- Undergo second semester screenings, primarily the alpha-fetoprotein (AFP) screening which measures the level of AFP in the mothers’ blood during pregnancy. Abnormal levels of AFP may be indicative of certain birth defects and other chromosomal abnormalities, as well as if there is more than one fetus. It can also help determine a due date, as levels of AFP vary at different stages of pregnancy.
- Perform an amniocentesis – primarily if the pregnancy is considered high risk or testing results come pack positive.
You may be out of the woods but that doesn’t mean that planning has ceased. You may want to add the following to your prenatal checklist:
- You may need bedrest. For high-risk pregnancies, your obstetrician may prescribe bedrest. Be prepared to ask for help and let your work know that you may want to telework, just in case. Keep a team of go-to numbers to help with carpools and shopping.
- Appointments are more frequent. Toward the end of your pregnancy, you will be visiting your obstetrician very often. And as the big day become closer, you may start to experience Braxton-Hicks contractions. Not to worry, they are normal, although quite painful. Use this time to practice breathing and relaxation.
- Have a back-up plan. When your water breaks, how will you get to the hospital? If your water doesn’t break, will you induce labor? What are the risks of C-sections or long-term stays in the hospital? Being prepared is your best bed for a worry-free pregnancy and birthing experience.
- During your final trimester you can expect testing for strep, baby development, and to see if baby is getting enough oxygen.
- Prepping for baby. Nurseries, baby showers, selecting car seats, strollers, and other gear are all important. Be sure to check for any recalls before borrowing baby items from friends; be on the safe side and do purchase a new carseat. Start to interview pediatricians and daycare providers if you plan to go back to work.
Dr. Baggot at Guadalupe Medical Center
Having a baby is a wonderful, exciting and often overwhelming experience. That’s why it’s important to work with an expert medical professional who can guide you with care and compassion along the way. Dr. Paddy Jim Baggot is renowned for his work with high-risk pregnancies, infertility and natural family planning, and post-partum care. If you are planning a family or looking to expand the one you have, reach out to Dr. Baggot at Guadalupe Medical Center by calling (213) 386-2606 or, request a consultation online and know that your baby will be in the best hands possible.