Pregnancy and Health Care
1. Doctor and Midwife Visits
a) To Have a Healthy Pregnancy
The Basic Requirements
It is necessary to take care of yourself and your baby during pregnancy.
To keep you and your baby healthy:
- Regularly visit your doctor or midwife.
- Get necessary prenatal tests.
- Don’t drink alcohol or smoke.
- Eat nutritious foods and have an active lifestyle.
- Prevent from infections.
Actions To Be Taken
- To have a healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby, there are many things you can do today.
- Get prenatal preventions and care.
- If you know you are pregnant or think you might be, call your doctor or midwife to schedule a visit.
b) Screening for Gestational Diabetes
Gestational diabetes is a type of diabetes that some women may develop during pregnancy. When you have diabetes, there is too much elevated blood glucose level.
If you develop gestational diabetes, it can lead to health hazards for you and your newborn baby after the pregnancy and after during the pregnancy.
- Before birth, your baby is likely to grow bigger in size than usual. This could make giving birth much more difficult than usual and make it more likely that you will have a caesarian section (C-section) not a regular delivery.
- Once the baby is born, your baby may have an increased risk for childhood obesity.
- You will be at an increased risk for developing type 2 diabetes after pregnancy.
If you have gestational diabetes, you and your doctor can work together to protect your and your newborn’s health.
Being tested for gestational diabetes is part and parcel of regular care during pregnancy and usually happens between 24 and 28 weeks of pregnancy.
What should be asked from doctor?
- If I have gestational diabetes, what happens next?
- What are the risk factors for gestational diabetes?
- Visit to the doctor may be stressful for some women. It is helpful to have questions noted down before your appointment to a doctor, take it with you the next time you visit your doctor or LHV.
- Is there anything I can do to lower risk of gestational diabetes?
- How will you test me for gestational diabetes?
- How could gestational diabetes affect my baby’s physical and mental health?
- How could gestational diabetes adversely affect my health?
c) Newborn Screening Tests
Newborn screening tests are the tests that diagnose diseases or disorders in newborn infants. All the tests are done before your baby leaves the hospital.
Newborn screenings can help you make sure your baby grows up healthy by catching conditions early, when they may be easier to treat. With a simple blood test, doctors can tell whether or not your baby has certain diseases or disorder.
Actions to be taken
- If you are pregnant, find out about newborn screening before your baby is born.
- Consult with your doctor or midwife about newborn screening tests. Find out which screening tests are offered at the hospital where your baby will be born.
- Find out tests which are to be required or which tests are offered by the hospital.
- If your baby is born at home or other place except hospital, he still needs to get screened. Take your baby to a nearest hospital or clinic to get checked within a few days of his birth.
2. Proper Nutrition and Physical Activity
a) Get enough necessary Vitamins supplementations
Women of childbearing age (ages 11 to 49) need an extra quantity of 400 micrograms of folic acid daily. Folic acid is found in foods like breakfast cereals that have 100% DV (Daily Value) of folic acid.
Why Is Folic Acid Important?
Folic acid is helpful in preventing some birth defects e.g., neural tube defects.
- Everyone needs folic acid, but it’s especially important for women who are pregnant or who may become pregnant. Folic acid is a vitamin that can prevent birth defects.
- Getting enough folic acid is important even when you aren’t planning to get pregnant. It’s needed during the first few weeks of pregnancy, often before a woman knows she’s pregnant.
Necessary Steps To Be Taken
- Properly check the label to know Nutrition Facts.
- Always buy cereals that have 100% DV of folic acid.
- When you are buying eatables at the grocery store, find foods with sufficient folic acid in them.
- Folic acid is necessary for pregnancy. Just eat a bowl of cereal with 100% DV of folic acid or take a vitamin every day.
- Folic acid is also in foods like enriched breads, pastas, and other foods made with grains.
b) Eat Healthy Nutrition during Pregnancy
Iron keeps your blood healthy. Making some nutritious food choices can be helpful for a healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby.
- Take breakfast daily.
- Low-fat or fat-free yogurt with fruit is also advisable.
- If you are feeling sick, start with 100% whole grain toasts. Try to eat more food later in the morning.
- Prefer to eat foods with fiber.
- Avoid soft cheeses and meats in lunch.
- Also add whole grains, like brown rice and oatmeal.
- Take fortified ready-to-eat or cooked breakfast cereals with fruit. Fortified cereals have added nutrients, like iron or calcium etc.
- Beans, like black beans and kidney beans may be taken.
- Add healthy snacks in your diet.
- Add vegetables and fruits, like green peas, spinach, pears, and bananas in your diet.
- Whole-grain crackers with fat-free or low-fat cheese.
- Talk with your doctor or nurse about a prenatal vitamin that’s right for you.
- It is advised to eat almost 8 to 12 ounces of seafood each week.
- Fish and shellfish with high levels of mercury must be avoided.
- Shark, swordfish, king mackerel etc. must also be avoided during pregnancy.
- Fish that are low in mercury include salmon, sardines, and shrimp can be eaten.
- Do not eat contaminated food with bacteria and viruses.
- Some foods may have a lot of bacteria in in them, so, don’t eat them for example;
- Soft cheeses and goat cheese.
- Undercooked meats or fish.
- Lunch meats unless they are heated until steaming hot.
- Limit the use of caffeine and avoid alcohol.
- If needed drink decaffeinated coffee or tea.
- Drink water or seltzer instead of soda.
c) Active lifestyle during Pregnancy
Physical activity is necessary for everyone, including pregnant women. Regular physical activity during pregnancy can help you have a more comfortable pregnancy. It may also reduce the risk of complications during pregnancy.
If you weren’t active before your pregnancy, it is never too late to start.
But before you begin…
- Consult with your doctor about getting active during your pregnancy.
- You can continue to do moderate physical activity unless there is a medical reason for you to avoid physical activity during your pregnancy. Aim for 2 hours and 30 minutes a week of moderate aerobic activities.
- Start slowly, if you weren’t exercising before.
- It is advised to spread your activity out over the week i.e., neither do too much exercise nor take too much rest.
- Choose activities that make your heart to beat faster, like walking fast. You should still be able to talk during these activities.
- Do not hold your breath while exercise. Breathe out as you lift something, and breathe in as you relax.
- Stop doing exercise or any other physical activity, if you get shortness of breath or feel uncomfortable.
- Avoid high-risk activities.
- Avoid lifting heavy weights.
- Also avoid exercises that could strain your lower back.
- Stay away from playing sports where you could get hit in the stomach, like basketball or football.
- Drink extra water before, while, and after you exercise or any other physical activity.
- Avoid exercising while lying on your back after the first trimester (12 weeks).
- Avoid activities that increase your risk of falling, like downhill skiing or horse riding.
3. Getting Ready for Your Baby
A) Breastfeed Your Baby
- Breastfeeding is very healthy for both mother and her baby.
- Breastfeed your child for at least the first 12 months.
- In the first 6 months, breast milk must be the only food or liquid your baby needs.
- If you are taking any medicines, consult with your doctor about the adverse effects of drugs on child’s health.
Some necessary steps for breastfeeding are following.
- While you are pregnant, consult your doctor or LHV about breastfeeding.
- Many health centers, clinics, and hospitals have breastfeeding experts to answer all your questions. These experts are usually called lactation consultants, specialists or counselors.
- After you begin breastfeeding, you may still have some questions in your mind. Talk to your doctor, nurse, or lactation counselor as often as you require doing so.
b) Consult Your Doctor about Newborn Screening
- Newborn screenings tests are the tests that find diseases or disorders in newborn babies. Most tests are done before your baby leaves the hospital.
- Newborn screening tests can be helpful to make sure your baby grows up healthy by catching conditions early, when they may be easier to treat.
- With a simple blood test, doctors can tell whether or not your baby has certain diseases or disorders.
Necessary Steps To Be Taken
- When you are pregnant, undergo newborn screening tests before your baby is born.
- Consult your doctor or midwife about newborn screening.
- Find out which newborn screening tests are available at the hospital, clinic or health care unit where your baby will be born.
- If your baby is born at home or other place except hospital, he still needs to be undergone screening tests. Take your baby to a nearest hospital or clinic to get checked within a few days after the delivery.
c) Learn about The First Aid
Do you know what to do in an emergency condition?
What if someone has a heart attack or gets stung by a bee?
An accident or emergency can happen at any time. Giving first aid is what you can do to help someone before medical help arrives. Taking action right away can help save a life.
- Learn when to call 1122.
- Always keep a first aid kit in your house and your car.
- Take a class to learn about the first aid and CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation). CPR is a way to help when someone’s heart or breathing has stopped or obstructed by providing chest compressions.
- Learn how to help someone who is choking.
d) Protection of Your Family from Lead Poisoning
Take necessary steps to protect your family from lead poisoning. Lead poisoning is caused by swallowing or breathing in lead. Most lead poisoning is caused by paints.
Who is at an increased risk for lead poisoning?
- If a pregnant woman has too much lead in her body, it can increase her risk for miscarriage (aborting or losing the baby).
- Lead can also pass from the mother to her baby by crossing placental barrier.
- Children under age 6 and pregnant women are at an increased risk of getting lead poisoning.
- When children are young, their bodies are still growing and are much more sensitive to the hazardous effects of lead than the old people.
There are no distinctive signs or symptoms of lead poisoning. Lead poisoning can lead to learning and behavior problems and may lead to cognitive impairment.
How do Childs have a risk of Lead poisoning?
Paint in homes built before 1978 often may have lead in it. When old paint cracks, it creates particles of lead dust. Children can get lead poisoning from breathing or swallowing dust particles on their hands and toys.
Lead can also be found in the soil around your home, drinking water, and products with old paint, like toys, utensils, furniture, and jewelry etc.
Necessary Steps to be taken
- You can help protect your family from lead poisoning by taking these simple steps.
- If you live in an older home e.g., house built before 1978, treat all paint as if it has lead in it.
Follow these necessary steps to keep kids from breathing in or swallowing lead.
- Keep children away from paint dust particles.
- Try to keep children away from rooms with chipping or peeling off paint.
- Cover peeling off or chipping paint with scotch tape or contact paper.
- Use a wet paper towel or mop to clean up dust regularly, especially around windows and floor.
- Advise the Childs to wash the hands and toys. Wash toys and hands often, especially before eating and sleeping.
e) Test Your Home for Radioactivity
- Radon is a colorless, odorless and tasteless gas. Radon is a natural radioactive gas that you can’t taste, or see. Breathing radon can increase your chances of getting lung carcinoma, especially if you smoke.
- Testing your home is the only way to know if your home has a radon radioactivity problem. If the radon level is high, you can take steps to fix it.
- Test your home with a short-term test.
- You can test for radon yourself or hire a professional to do it for you.
- If you rent your home, ask your landlord to get it tested.
- Test for radon in the lowest lived-in level of your home. If you use part of your basement for living space, like a playroom, test there. If you use your basement only for storage, test the ground floor.
- You can buy Radon test kits at home improvement or hardware stores.
- If your home has a radon level of 4 or higher, it’s time to take action. There is no safe level of radon, so you may still want to fix your home if the radon level is between 2 and 4.
- Test your home again if the radon level is 4 or higher.
- The radon level in your home can change. A long-term test is the best way to know what the radon level is over time.
- If the radon level was very high or if you are in a hurry, use other short-term tests.