Congrats! Expanding your family is always an exciting and beautiful time. Whether you are just beginning to think about a pregnancy or if you are about ready to welcome your new baby home, Star Legacy Foundation is here to help provide support and information that can keep you and your baby safe and healthy! Always feel free to contact us because we believe every pregnancy deserves a happy outcome!
If you are not yet pregnant, please consider an appointment with your health provider to discuss your plans. This is the time to adopt healthy habits! Eating a balanced and healthy diet, getting exercise, and stopping use of alcohol, tobacco, or other recreational drugs will be healthy changes you can make to make your body healthier for this process. And they will be good habits for life! Ask your health professional about any health conditions or concerns you have. Many illnesses or conditions should be controlled or resolved before a pregnancy begins, or may need special care during a pregnancy. It is also important to share your family history in case genetic testing or other considerations may be recommended.
Know Your Risk Factors
While most pregnancies end happily, sadly, some do not. Knowing about conditions that may increase your risk of miscarriage, stillbirth, or neonatal death can help you and your health professional monitor you and your baby and develop a plan to reduce the risk.
Individuals with the following characteristics have higher rates of poor outcomes. Please share any of the following with your providers or ask them if you show any of these factors.
- Advanced maternal age (over 35 years)
- African American or Native American
- Maternal obesity
- Diabetes or gestational diabetes
- Hypertension (high blood presssure), pre-eclampsia, or eclampsia
- Maternal infections
- Maternal health conditions including kidney disorders, thyroid disorders, anti-phospholipid syndrome
- Use of assistive reproductive technology
- History of poor outcome in previous pregnancy (miscarriage, stillbirth, preterm birth, small for gestational age baby or growth restricted baby, or neonatal death)
- Pregnancy lasting more than 40 weeks
- Poor growth in baby
- Change in baby’s movements or behavior
- Abnormal umbilical cord or placenta Too much or too little amniotic fluid
To monitor you and your baby, your provider may recommend some of the following tests, especially if you have any of the risk factors mentioned above.
- Urine tests – check for signs of dehydration, high blood pressure, and diabetes
- Blood tests – can check for signs of infection, placental function, genetics, and many other health conditions
- Amniocentesis – check for health conditions affecting your baby
How you can start parenting now!
Parenting is loving your baby and helping them thrive! These are important things you can do now to help your baby stay healthy.
- Get quality sleep – poor sleep is related to high blood pressure and preterm birth. Tell your health provider if you feel unrested, snore (or are told you snore),or stop breathing briefly while sleeping
- Go to sleep on your side during the 3rd trimester – this can reduce your risk of stillbirth by improving blood flow to your placenta and baby when sleeping. Check out our blog on safe sleep. To learn more about sleeping on your side, click here.
- Monitor your baby’s movements – you should feel regular movements by 24 weeks. Pay attention to when your baby is most active and how you would describe his/her movements. Any sudden change in your baby’s behavior could be a sign that he/she is unwell.
- Listen to your maternal intuition! Maternal instincts can begin early. If you have any ‘gut feelings’ or other concerns that you can’t describe – don’t hesitate to mention them to your provider.
When to Contact your Health Professional or be Assessed at the Hospital
- Severe or persistent headache
- Severe swelling
- Severe nausea or vomiting
- Intense itching, especially on the hands and feet
- Unusual discharge
- Water breaks
- Vision changes
- Persistent or severe abdominal pain
- Baby’s usual pattern of movement changes
- ANY symptoms or feeling that concerns you
DO NOT WAIT TO CONTACT YOUR HEALTH PROFESSIONAL!
These symptoms may indicate you or your baby are not well. Time may be critical for your health provider to keep you or your baby from getting more sick. Do not wait until your next appointment or until it gets worse. Do not be concerned that you will be a bother to your physician/midwife. If it’s concerning you, your provider wants to know! Remember these words from Jane Warland, midwife and stillbirth researcher….
“You’re not being a BOTHER, you’re being a MOTHER!”
How to monitor your baby’s movements
Think about how you would describe your baby’s movements. Is he/she busy? Relaxed? Are the movements strong? brushing? jabs? flutters? Do the movements come in spurts? or are they consistent for long periods of time? When is he/she most active or quiet? What have you already learned about this baby’s personality?
When you are in the 2nd and 3rd trimesters, take some time each day to think about your baby’s movements and how they compare to this baby’s normal activity. Every baby is different! Some gradual changes will occur as the baby grows and becomes bigger and stronger. However, sudden changes can be a sign the baby is not healthy. Any change in the frequency, pattern, or strength of your baby’s movements need to be reported to your health professional immediately. Babies DO NOT run out of room and their movements should not decrease at the end of the pregnancy. To learn more about monitoring movements, visit here.
Did you know Star Legacy Foundation has free Safer Pregnancy materials? Click here and request yours today.
Feel free to contact Star Legacy Foundation with questions or concerns. We are here for you and your baby because we believe every pregnancy deserves a happy ending.