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It’s common to feel uncertainty and anxiety while getting ready for a baby, especially if it’s your first. But, not knowing what to expect is often scarier than the facts.
Even as an OB/GYN, there’s a lot I wish someone had told me before my first child. Understanding what you can do to prepare for a baby before their arrival can help you feel calm and confident as you enter motherhood. Here’s what you need to know when getting ready for baby, from pre-pregnancy planning and prenatal testing to how to care for you and baby in each trimester.
It’s common to feel uncertainty while getting ready for a baby, especially if it’s your first. On the #LiveWellHealthy blog, OB/GYN Dr. Wexler shares 10 things to know about preparing for baby so you can feel confident as you enter #Motherhood: https://bit.ly/333WMDK.
1. You can start getting ready for baby before you’re pregnant.
If you’re thinking about starting or growing your family, preconception counseling can ensure you’re prepared to have a healthy pregnancy. During preconception counseling, a maternal and fetal health specialist can help you understand your risk of passing along any inheritable diseases, manage your weight, and determine if you need to make any lifestyle changes before getting pregnant.
Some ethnic groups have a higher risk of inheritable diseases, such as sickle cell disease and Tay-Sachs disease. Your doctor can determine if you are a carrier, and if you are, recommend partner testing to find out if you may pass along something to your baby. You can also get tested to see if you’re immune to certain vaccines, such as rubella and chickenpox.
At a preconception consultation, your doctor will recommend taking a prenatal vitamin or folic acid supplement to ensure you’re getting the nutrients you need to help baby grow. And, you can discuss any current medications that you may need to avoid during pregnancy. They’ll also help you reach a healthy body mass index to minimize your risk of gestational diabetes, preeclampsia, and labor dystocia.
We offer safe, convenient preconception appointments virtually, so you can start planning for your family from the comfort of your living room.
2. Regular exercise and healthy eating can help you gain the recommended amount of weight.
Too much weight gain can pose a risk to you and baby, and not enough weight gain is also harmful. It can be hard to find the motivation to work out in the first trimester when you feel fatigued and nauseous, but exercising is one of the best ways to ensure you manage your weight gain. Unless your doctor tells you that you can’t, aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise every day. If that feels like too much at once, try breaking it into three ten-minute chunks of exercise.
You might experience some unusual cravings, and it’s ok to give in to some of them. But, remember that you only need to eat for one and one-quarter of a person—not two!
3. Prenatal tests can screen for any abnormalities early.
Insurance covers many prenatal tests, but not all. That’s why it’s important to find out what’s included in your health plan. Most noninvasive screenings can be performed in the OB/GYN office as early as ten weeks and five days. Early testing allows you to identify any signs of gene abnormalities while giving you enough time to understand what to expect and address any concerns you may have.
4. There are things you can do to minimize nausea, aches, and pains.
From nausea and round ligament pain to heartburn and hemorrhoids, pregnancy and birth can bring some uncomfortable side effects. But, there are many ways you can minimize discomfort. Here are some common pregnancy ailments and how to treat them.
Nausea and vomiting: If you have severe morning sickness, consider trying a natural remedy, such as a ginger or vitamin B6 supplement.
Round ligament pain: Between weeks 16 to 22, it’s common to feel round ligament pain as your uterus grows beyond the pelvic bone. A prenatal cradle or belt can support your lower abdomen and decrease aches and pains.
Insomnia and trouble sleeping: Unisom is an over-the-counter remedy for aiding in sleep when you find yourself struggling to fall or stay asleep at night.
Heartburn: You may experience some heartburn, especially after eating spicy or acidic foods. To minimize heartburn, I recommend giving your body 30 minutes to digest food after eating before laying down. At night, try sleeping at a 30-degree angle rather than flat. If you’re still having heartburn, you may consider taking an over-the-counter remedy, like Prilosec, Zantac, or something else on your approved medication list.
Hemorrhoids: Stock up on witch hazel pads and Preparation-H to minimize any discomfort caused by hemorrhoids. You may benefit from a donut pillow that relieves pressure on your bottom.
Prenatal yoga and physical therapy are also safe options for managing pregnancy ailments—even if you develop sciatica or carpal tunnel syndrome. A video visit appointment with a specially-trained physical therapist can help you learn ways to minimize aches and pains.
5. Find a pediatrician during the second trimester.
It’s never too early to establish a relationship with a pediatrician but aim to find one by the end of the second trimester. Many pediatricians offer get-to-know-you visits so you can ask questions about their care and experience. I recommend choosing a pediatrician who provides weekend hours so they’re available when you need them unexpectedly. It’s also a good idea to see if they have privileges to check-in on you in the hospital after delivery if that’s important to you.
Read five more things you should know when preparing for baby in part 2 of the 10 things to know when getting ready for baby series.