Top 5 things doctors wish you'd do for your baby during pregnancy

Top 5 things doctors wish you'd do for your baby during pregnancy

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1. Give up the idea of eating for two

Many women gain more weight than recommended because they overestimate how many extra calories they need, according to obstetrician Laura Riley. Gaining too much weight during pregnancy makes you more likely to deliver early, develop preeclampsia (which can also lead to prematurity), or have a big baby (which makes delivery rougher on both of you).

If you were a healthy weight before pregnancy, you won't need any extra calories during the first trimester. An additional 340 calories daily in the second trimester and an extra 450 calories daily in the third trimester are all you need to fuel your baby's growth.

That's not much: An apple with 2 tablespoons of peanut butter and 6 ounces of skim milk provides about 340 calories. A chicken Caesar salad with a bread stick provides about 450 calories.

2. Get a flu shot

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends the flu shot for all pregnant women. Why is getting the flu such a big deal when you're pregnant? Because changes in your immune system, heart, and lungs during pregnancy make you more vulnerable to flu complications (such as pneumonia), which can be very serious and even fatal. Getting the flu while pregnant also raises the risk of preterm labor and delivery.

The flu can be dangerous for your unborn baby, too. Some studies have shown that the high fever that sometimes accompanies the flu can increase the risk of birth defects if illness strikes early in your pregnancy. For those reasons, doctors urge pregnant women to get vaccinated.

There's even a benefit to your baby after birth: Moms-to-be who get the flu shot during pregnancy protect their babies from the flu for the first six months of life. That's when a baby's immune system is still maturing and he's vulnerable to complications from the flu.

You can safely get the flu shot, which contains an inactivated version of the flu virus, any time during pregnancy. Don't get the nasal mist form of the vaccine, which contains a weakened but live version of the virus.

3. Check with your OB before going off your meds

As soon as you find out you're pregnant, let your doctor know so she can review your medications. Discuss the risks and benefits with her before making the decision to stop taking any prescription medicines. (Ideally, you'd have this conversation even before you start trying to conceive.)

Unless your doctor tells you otherwise, don't suddenly stop taking your medication on your own because some have serious side effects when they're abruptly discontinued. For example, there's a small possibility that taking antiseizure medication can cause birth defects, but having a grand mal seizure during pregnancy can seriously harm you and your baby.

Many medications aren't safe to take during pregnancy, but sometimes the high-risk conditions they treat have more serious consequences for your baby. "For instance, stopping antidepressants requires some thought and discussion," says Riley. Although some studies have linked antidepressant use during pregnancy to problems such as preterm birth and low birth weight, others suggest that untreated depression could be even riskier for the baby.

4. Find your baby's doctor in your third trimester

Well-baby checkups begin as soon as your baby arrives, so start the search for your baby's doctor early in your third trimester to give yourself enough time to find the right fit. "That way you can look for someone whose schedule works with yours, who's in your neighborhood," says ob-gyn Deepali Patni. "You visit the doctor quite a bit, so you want someone you feel comfortable with."

You can even interview her in person before you deliver, something many moms-to-be don't realize.

5. Get into the spirit of "it takes a village"

The demands of work, home, and other children don't come to a screeching halt just because you're pregnant. Pediatrician Alanna Levine advises her pregnant patients to ask friends or family members for any help that lightens their load, whether it's doing laundry or providing an hour of childcare.

It's especially tough for women who already have kids to follow this suggestion, she says, but it's just as important. "Stress during pregnancy has been linked to preterm birth and low birth weight," says Levine.

Learn more:

Watch the video: How to stay healthy: Michael Mosley, All About Women 2016 (June 2022).


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