Top 10 Do’s and Dont’s of Your Pregnancy. (Mainly Do’s)
1) DO find a provider who you trust, can bring your questions to, and feel like you can relate you without feeling dismissed or rushed.
-this might mean meeting with different clinics or providers during your early pregnancy
-plan on settling on a provider no later than 20 weeks
-have a solid idea as to whether your pregnancy/prenatal provider is ALSO going to be your provider during your labor and delivery
-know that we providers are quite human at times; please know that we have bad days, make mistakes, and run behind in our schedules
2) DO regularly evaluate how you communicate with your provider
-ahead of EVERYTHING else, this is THE most important part of your pregnancy and labor care
-knowing that all people have different abilities and ways of communicating, you may or may not feel like your communication level with your provider is adequate
-unless you own a crystal ball (don’t worry, I don’t have one either ), there is no way to predict what will happen during your pregnancy and delivery
-when things do happen during your pregnancy, it is incredibly important to have a great communicator who will guide you through the expected and the unexpected
-if you are concerned with your communication level, discuss this with your provider so that they are aware (they might not realize you have concerns!)
-if you are still concerned about your communication level, you may need to consider a different provider
3) DO consider a doula.
What is a doula? I thought you would never ask. This day in age, there are many, many things that we ask our nursing staff to do to care for you and your baby. Our nursing staff is amazing and I am constantly in awe with their abilities, compassion, and level of professionalism. A doula is an additional person that focuses solely on your comfort and emotional well-being during your pregnancy and labor. There are many other “hats” that they wear and services that they provide, but these are individualized to each doula. Most importantly, there is good science that suggests that a woman is less likely to require a C-section and require other interventions when using a doula during their pregnancy and labor.
The best thing to do is do some online research on what they do. Yes, this doctor is reluctantly telling you to “Google” something during your pregnancy. Consider interviewing 2 or 3 to see who you might be comfortable with. Individual doulas are amazing (I have worked with many ) but you can also consider using hospital or local community resources that offer this service at a dramatic discount.
4) DO take a prenatal vitamin OR folic acid supplement as early in your pregnancy as you can.
The minimum amount of folic acid that we recommend is 400 mcg but taking up to 4mg is reasonable. Know that your prenatal vitamin has iron in it and this will often times increase your chances of increased nausea and constipation! (Ha! As if pregnancy symptoms weren’t enough.) In MOST cases (but certainly not all) you do not need that extra iron. It is typically ok to switch from a prenatal to a folic acid pill if you are having side effects from your prenatal. But please mention this to your pregnancy provider if you needed to do this.
5) DO take prenatal classes.
I have my personal favorites but there are many ways to learn the most important topics. Some of these classes are for several weeks and even months. Often times, programs with multiple classes are well worth it and a great opportunity to have a “date night” that focuses on your new family. Make sure to research these programs early on in your pregnancy and make reservations. The best classes fill up fast!
6) DO take a breastfeeding class.
It’s important to build your knowledge base AND your confidence level. Sometimes breastfeeding is easier than falling off a log… and frequently not. There can be some serious growing pains and practice required in the first weeks of parenthood. You want to be ready for those possible challenges.
7) DO evaluate your exercise and diet routine during this pregnancy.
This is the absolute BEST time to be fit during your pregnancy. Get your partner involved. There is no way to control everything during your pregnancy, but being active and eating well will reduce your chance of acquiring diabetes and having blood pressure issues during this pregnancy for sure; it might even help get you into labor sooner (woo hoo!). Look at what snacks are sitting in the cupboard- get rid of the bad ones. Only shop for things you know should be eating. Walk or run or jazzercise most days of the week. Use a step counter and challenge your number of steps every week. Consider prenatal yoga- I don’t think I have ever heard a new Mom (to-be) who was disappointed.
8) DON’T use the internet as your personal pregnancy guide. In most cases. I suppose you can use this website on occasion. But no others. 🙂
Aside from the baby pushing down on your bladder, the best way to accidentally wet yourself is to randomly surf the web for scary pregnancy symptoms and stories. The world is full of quacks and hacks (they even let me have my own webpage for goodness sake!) and how are you going to know the difference between good and poor advice? Pregnancy is a very emotionally charged time for many reasons and the stories out there on the World Wide Web often times have many points of view. You want to use science and your incredibly gifted, well communicating provider as your guides to your pregnancy.
9) DO get organized. You get as much out of your pregnancy as you put into it.
-Healthy food shopping lists
-Packing list for the hospital
-Setting up all of your prenatal visits with your provider
-Questions for your provider
-Home projects for baby-proofing
-FMLA paperwork for your work leave
-Getting a breast pump
There are an endless number of things to consider. But keeping a TO-DO list and a list of questions for your provider are definitely way to go.
10) This is a big one! DO work on your relationship with each other.
This is a really, really good time to make sure you that you and your partner are in a good place. Please notice the italicized and underlined part, that wasn’t just a typo. If you get past the obvious change upcoming in your lives (a whole new human being in the household engorging itself on breast milk), there will actually be other major changes as well: your marriage and/or your relationship.
I think one of the toughest things that I see as a doctor are many couples that are focus on the health of their pregnancy and the construction of a new crib, but little to no work on their bond to each other. In most cases, there is nothing more difficult for a relationship to overcome than a pregnancy and the welcoming of a newborn. If you don’t believe me, just ask anyone a month into new parenthood. Fatigue, job juggling, baby blues, financial expenses… it can get a little dicey at times.
To be a good parents, your relationship needs to be a strong one. DO NOT neglect it. So invest as much time and energy into your lives as couple as you do to this pregnancy or this newborn. Do I have suggestions? I thought you would never ask.
-A routine scheduled date night (both before AND after) baby arrives.
-Attend prenatal classes together
-Go on trips during your pregnancy (unless your doctor says no of course). This is a last chance to get away for a full week for at least a while!
-Couples sky diving. I’m kidding of course.
-Routinely have sex. Often times your pregnancy and postpartum hormones will tell you that this is completely unnecessary. Please consider doing this anyway.
-Make healthy choices for this pregnancy together. This is the best time for you BOTH to be the most physically fit and healthy you can possibly be. Make sure you are exercising and eating as a team.
-Consider couples therapy if you feel like your communication is not where it should be. There is nothing in a relationship that replaces good communication. With a little one on the way, you will need that skill set more than ever.
That was a longer, more wordy pregnancy top 10 than I anticipated. I hope that it was slightly insightful. Please email me questions or positive comments to firstname.lastname@example.org if you have a second (I don’t accept negative vibes). Thank you so much for your participation!
Sincerely, Ryan Dick MD