This is a guest post written by Dr. Winifred Soufi, a mom and OB/GYN.
Don’t skip meals! Be well rested! Stay hydrated! Alleviate stress! Sound familiar? Most mothers-to-be are aware of these common recommendations, but I wish every mother knew a few other less frequently discussed tips regarding the health and safety of their baby, which are just as important. As an OB/GYN of Women’s Health Associates and a mother myself, I encourage expectant mothers to be mindful of these invaluable tips.
1. Monitor, monitor, monitor.
I remember feeling my baby move for the first time. It is one of the most exciting parts of pregnancy. After all, an active baby is a healthy baby! As early as 24-28 weeks of pregnancy, you can begin monitoring your baby’s fetal kick or movement counts. Establishing a daily monitoring routine is important for tracking the health and development of your baby. Once you start feeling consistent movement, you can check your baby's movements three times a day. After a meal is a good time to make a point to sit down and record your baby’s movements, including any kicks, turns or slight shift. Make a note of any significant deviations from usual patterns, remembering that you should count four movements in a one-hour period. As your baby grows, you will feel even more movements. As a general guideline, anticipate feeling 10 movements in a two-hour period after 8 months of pregnancy. If you don't feel these movements, make sure you call your OB provider to see what they recommend.
2. Get educated!
If you could give your baby the possibility of a healthier future, wouldn’t you? Well, the opportunity to bank your baby’s cord blood with a family bank can be a potentially life-changing option. I prefer family cord blood banks because they collect and store your newborn’s umbilical cord just for your family’s use. Your family has exclusive access to your baby’s stem cells should a medical treatment require its use in the future. Cord blood stems cells have been used in the treatment of nearly 80 diseases, including certain cancers, genetic diseases, and blood disorders, and are the fastest growing source of stem cells in pediatric transplants. One thing I like about ViaCord is that 88% of the medical treatments that utilized cord blood stem cells prepared by this family cord blood banking have been successful. This is the highest published rate shared by any family bank. Ask your doctor about how cord blood banking can be an important resource for you and your family.
3. Know the signs of preterm labor.
I know that pre-term labor is a fear of all expecting mothers. I always stress the importance of being aware of pre-term labor signs to my patients, so they can potentially prevent it. Pre-term labor occurs prior to 37 weeks of pregnancy. Key indicators of early labor include counting more than four contractions or menstrual-like cramps in an hour if you are less than 32 weeks pregnant, and more than six contractions in an hour if you are between 32 and 37 weeks pregnant. Feeling acute lower abdomen pain and leaking of fluid are two other signs of pre-term labor. If you experience any of these symptoms, you should call your OB provider.
4. Remember your prenatal tests.
Prenatal tests can help monitor the health and well-being of your baby before he or she is born. When I was pregnant, I remember the sooner I knew about my babies’ health the more at ease I felt about their arrivals. There are different options to consider, including screens that can examine biochemical markers in your blood or your baby’s own DNA through your blood. These noninvasive, highly sensitive screens detect risk for specific conditions, such as Down syndrome, Trisomy 13 and Trisomy 18, within the first trimester. Be sure to check with your OB provider to find out more about first trimester screening.
5. Vaccinations count!
Certain vaccinations have increased importance during your pregnancy. Expectant mothers have a higher risk of catching the flu, so ensuring you get the vaccine in a timely fashion will protect you and your baby during flu season.Whether or not you received the pertussis vaccination in the past, make sure to get this vaccine between 29 to 35 weeks of pregnancy. This vaccine protects your infant from the whooping cough, which can be fatal to a newborn. Remember that any family members or friends who will be around your little one must be up to date on their vaccines, too!
What was one thing you would tell your pre-pregnancy self?