Congratulations, you’re pregnant! Welcome to the start of a whole new life… literally. Once word is out that you’re expecting, get ready for TMI. Unsolicited – and sometimes unwanted – advice floods in from every corner and the lure of the Internet, and “Dr Google” can overcome you. With so much pregnancy information out there, it’s tough to separate truth from folklore and helpful awareness from the downright scary, especially in your first pregnancy. To cut through the clutter, we turned to our experts for their best pregnancy tips.
First things first
“Take your prenatal vitamins even before pregnancy begins,” says Research Medical Center ObGyn, Erin McNulty, MD. “Evidence suggests that women who do this actually decrease their risk of nausea and vomiting during pregnancy, as well as decrease risk of neural tube defects like spina bifida for your baby.”
“Embrace the Journey!”
“Often we can get wrapped up in our expectations of what we think pregnancy, delivery and even parenthood is going to look like,” she says. “I advise my patients to educate themselves and think through how they would like things to go, but start this adventure with an open mind. If things take an unexpected turn, don’t let it steal your joy!”
Meeting Your Match
Your OB provider is going to be your new best friend over the months of pregnancy, so choose wisely. Finding a doctor you trust and with whom you feel comfortable talking about everything (and we do mean everything!) is really important for first-time moms.
“Find and choose a provider who is willing to help educate you regarding your pregnancy experience,” advocates Certified Nurse Midwife, Sarah Yeamans, with Research Medical Center. “We live in an age of information that is easily accessible. Tap into reputable sources so that you are equipped to know what’s going on with your body and your baby, then find a provider who will help you make the best decisions during your pregnancy!”
“If you have specific wishes regarding your labor and birthing process, write a birth plan. Try to discuss your plan with your doctor well before you go into labor, so you can both be on the same page and have realistic expectations,” says Mary Brulja, DO, of Menorah Medical Center.
Other things to discuss with the doctor:
- Your overall health
- Any medicines, including birth control, OTC medicines and supplements, etc.
- Routine or special testing you need or want
- Chronic health conditions
- Family history of birth defects, health conditions
- Any other concerns
“Ask questions,” says Susie Ezell, DO, an obstetrician with Menorah Medical Center. “ You have never done this before, so you are going to have a ton of questions! Make sure to ask any question that comes to mind. I recommend writing them down and bringing them to your appointment with you, as you’ll inevitably forget them when you’re put on the spot. It’s cliché, but there are truly no silly questions.”
Remember, every pregnancy – and pregnant body – are unique
As pregnancy progresses and your baby bump starts to show a little, it’s only human nature to be on the lookout for other bumps. That’s fine, but do resist one thing, advises Dr. Brulja.
“Don’t compare your body or baby bump to other women’s,” she says. “Some people start ‘showing’ earlier than others. Each woman, body shape, and pregnancy are different. As long as your doctor feels that you and your baby are growing appropriately, don’t worry about it.”
Diet? Who said anything about a diet!
One of the best ways to manage your health during pregnancy is by getting to and maintaining an optimum weight before getting pregnant.
“Your doctor can recommend an appropriate amount of weight for you to gain during pregnancy,” says Dr. McNulty “Staying within this range can keep you and your growing baby healthy, and minimize the risk of gestational diabetes, pre-eclampsia and cesarean delivery.”
Pregnancy guidelines tell us:
- an average-sized woman should gain 25 to 35 pounds during pregnancy
- a woman who is underweight should gain 28 to 40 pounds
- a woman who is overweight should gain only 15 to 25 pounds during pregnancy
“Eat as healthy as possible,” says Alex Capelli, MD, an Ob at Menorah Medical Center. “Review your diet, decrease processed foods, if possible, and include in your diet high-quality organic clean fruits, vegetables and proteins.”
Let’s keep things moving…
“Exercise is okay during pregnancy,” says Dr. Capelli. “If you have a work-out routine, adjust it as your pregnancy continues. If you just start exercising, do both cardio and weight training. Fitness trackers are helpful for the expectant mother.”
Exercise can help you relieve stress, maintain an appropriate weight and give you more energy. Need we say more?
Sniff out the facts on aromatherapy
More and more women are turning to essential oils for their aromatic and possible therapeutic benefits, Centerpoint Medical Center ObGyn, Nate Wegner, MD, tells us. While that’s not necessarily bad, exposure to any chemical, including essential oils, during pregnancy should be considered carefully.
“The first trimester, through 12 weeks, is when the baby is developing, and when external exposures may impact the development of birth defects,” Dr. Wegner explains. “Later in pregnancy, risks focus more on neurological development and the possibility of preterm labor. It’s extremely important to let your provider know any essential oils or other remedies you are considering.”
Although there are no randomized trials of essential oils in pregnant women, Dr. Wegner recommends keeping a few things in mind:
- Ginger is the most studied substance and appears to be safe and somewhat effective in the first trimester for morning sickness. It can be taken in capsule form or used as an essential oil.
- Lavender can also have a very calming effect.
- Other essential oils considered safe in the second and third trimester of pregnancy are: benzoin, bergamot, black pepper, chamomile (German & Roman), clary sage, cypress, eucalyptus, frankincense, geranium, ginger, grapefruit, juniper, lavender, lemon, mandarin, majoram (sweet), neroli, petitgrain, rose, sandalwood, orange (sweet), tea tree, ylang ylang.
- Avoid the following oils: wormwood, rue, oak moss, Lavandula stoechas, camphor, parsley seed, sage, and hyssop.
- As always, follow the recommended dilutions.
The flu is not for you!
“Get your flu vaccination, your partner does as well.” advises Dr, McNulty. “Many women do not realize that flu vaccinations are very safe and incredibly important during pregnancy. Influenza during pregnancy can be life-threatening to both you and your baby, and newer studies have shown long-term health consequences for babies born to women who have severe influenza during pregnancy. Keeping you and your partner healthy will help limit exposure to illnesses. And, even if you do get influenza, the flu vaccination can decrease your risk of serious consequences.”
Get your beauty rest
When the couch calls your name at 7 p.m.…. pay attention!
“Sleep is extremely important to an expectant mom and her developing baby, strive for at least eight hours a night,” says Dr. Capelli, “and get into a good sleep routine.”
That advice goes double after baby arrives.
“You don't need to be there for every second of your newborn's life, delegate and get rest, you'll be a better mom if you get sleep,” says Dr. Soendker. “I tell patients, ‘enjoy your baby and take time to recover from delivery. Household duties/work can wait.’”
And one final piece of advice…
“One of the greatest blessings in life is the privilege of parenthood, but it is anything but predictable,” says Dr. Nash. “I have found some of those unforeseen paths teach us the most about love and what really matters in this life.”
At HCA Midwest Health, we deliver more babies than any other hospital system in the KC area. More moms in Kansas City choose us for comfort, safety, expertise and amenities. We offer the maternity care you need from pre-conception, to education classes to taking home your new addition.