Whether it’s unexpected or you have been trying to conceive, the moment you get that positive test result will be overwhelming. Keep in mind that your pregnancy is not just a physical journey but also an emotional one. Therefore, we’ll go over some of the crucial, beginning steps moms-to-be need to take.
As soon as you know you are pregnant, it is best to see a doctor to confirm the results and start prenatal care early. It is so that you can set an appointment schedule in order to monitor your baby’s growth and development to see if everything is on track; or should any problem arise, you can discover it sooner rather than later.
Tips for trips to the doctor – You’ll probably feel clueless and have a million questions on how to handle things, especially if this is your first pregnancy. A good idea would be to write down any questions that come up between your appointments, so that you can find out as much as possible during each visit.
Here are some topics you should discuss with your doctor.
1. Prenatal Screenings and Tests
Please note that screenings are not diagnostic of disorders in themselves but the results would indicate whether or not any tests for specific disorders or defects are recommended. There will be several, and not all of them compulsory but let’s have a look at some common ones.
First trimester screening
- Consists of an ultrasound and a blood test, The screen is done between weeks 11-13 of your pregnancy.
- This test is meant to detect chromosomal abnormalities such as Down syndrome, as well as some developmental defects such as cardiac disorders.
- The accuracy rate for both the ultrasound and the blood test combined is 85%, although there is a 5% chance that a normal pregnancy may be mistakenly detected as having some abnormalities.
Second trimester screening
Some people opt for the ‘Triple Screen’ while others go for the ‘Quad Screen’.
They both ultimately test for the same things, by looking at the same substances – except the ‘Quad Screen’ looks at one extra substance called inhibin-A which increases the chances of accurately identifying Down syndrome.
If you are 35 years old or will be by the time you give birth, you may discuss with your doctor whether or not an amniocentesis is recommended. It is an invasive procedure using a long needle to obtain the amniotic fluid from the mother. The test is used to diagnose Open Neural Tube Defects (ONTD), in addition to chromosomal disorders.
2. Family history research
This will help shed light on areas of concerns, discern the odds of your baby inheriting certain genetic disorders, and indicate the types of screenings and tests you should take.
3. Which prenatal supplements should you start taking?
There are several prenatal supplement brands that put them all together as multivitamins, but you can also find what you want sold separately. As long as you consult the doctor about the dosage of the vitamins and mineral that is right for you, that should be fine. Some of the vital supplements women take include: folic acid, calcium, iron, and iodine.
Change your diet and Habit
There will be a number of things you’ll need to say goodbye to (temporarily), and some die hard habits you’ll have to break.
Important note: read all the labels! Being lazy and imprudent is now the first bad habit you need to break. You have to get used to this in order to look out for the rest of the things on this list (and beyond).
Alcohol – No amount of alcohol is really okay during pregnancy.
- Large amounts may cause Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS), leading your child to suffer from a range of both mental and physical deficiencies in the long run.
- Remember that alcohol goes into your bloodstream; so even if you don’t feel the any reaction to it at the slightest, your baby is receiving it too.
- This also still applies even when you are breastfeeding.
Stimulants in general – Caffeine is perhaps the most debated substance, since it is commonly taken on a regular basis – whether in soft drinks or coffee.
- This is because caffeine not only stimulates your body to rid itself of fluids, it also washes out important nutrients like calcium before it can be absorbed fully.
- Most studies say that consumption of caffeine in moderation is okay, which amounts to about 2 small cups per day (that’s 200 mg or less). Soft drinks and energy drinks are also tricky since their caffeine levels vary drastically, and the excessive sugar is also something to watch out for.
- However, to be sure, it is best to avoid any caffeine intake during the first trimester as it is the most sensitive phase of development, and the period with the highest chance of miscarriage.
- Other food items like all things raw, and fish with high levels of mercury. Contamination and poisoning are definitely things to avoid. Exposure to mercury has been proven to adversely affect the brains and delay children’s development.
Beware of Side effects
While everyone knows about morning sickness and fatigue, we want to draw your attention to one that is not as well-known even though it is not an uncommon occurrence. It manifests itself on the mental/emotional level and may be difficult to detect since some of the symptoms do overlap with those of pregnancies anyway.
- People call it varyingly, such as pre-partum depression or prenatal depression but they all basically refer to depression that occurs during pregnancy
- Post-partum depression (PPD) which is the name for when it happens after childbirth, gets much more attention and has a higher prevalence (1 out of 7, according to the American Psychological Association). However, it is acknowledged that half of the women diagnosed with PPD actually exhibited depressive symptoms since the time of their pregnancy.
- A study by the University of Washington found that 9.9% of the 1,888 participants were found to suffer from depression while pregnant.
- 5.1% were found to have antenatal major depressive disorder, while 4.8% had a minor depression. So while it is not a huge portion, antenatal depression is more common than you’d think.
- It is also alarming that among the above mentioned 5.1%, 29.5% of them said they had suicidal thoughts
Know Your Paper Matters
It would be prudent to learn about your company’s Human Resources policy on maternity leave and go over your insurance details and conditions. It is a new exciting phase, but money will matter a lot more now, too.
Last important note
Relax! Remember that both physical and mental stress should be avoided where possible. So what better time to celebrate, let loose a little and go shopping for some maternity wear items?