Special thanks to The National Partnership for Women and Families and UnitedHealthcare for making this post possible. All opnions are my own.
The news of a pregnancy 0ften elicits a range of emotions akin to a roller coaster. Whether the news is long awaited or unexpected, moms-to-be are often overwhelmed by the wealth of knowledge and opinion that immediately becomes important. I’ve recently had the privilege of partnering with a local teen maternity home and am reminded how important it is that appropriate prenatal, post-partum, and well child care be available and accessed to ensure the best possible immediate and long-term health for both mother and baby.
Tips for a Healthy Pregnancy and Birth
- Take care of you. It is imperative that expectant mother’s eat well, stay active, get adequate sleep, and limit stress during pregnancy. Eating five or six smaller meals a day and taking a prenatal vitamin help maximize wellness. Drinking plenty of fluids, limiting caffeine, and avoiding alcohol and cigarette smoke are also important.
- Wear your seat belt. It’s tempting, with your newfound girth, to forgo strapping in. The lap portion of your seat belt should be placed under the abdomen as low as possible on the hips and across the upper thighs, never above the abdomen. When possible, sit as far from the airbags as you can.
- Avoid over-the-counter medications and herbal remedies as much as possible. Be sure to consult your midwife or obstetrician before taking any, as they may impact your pregnancy and the health of the baby.
- Choose a maternity care provider and birth setting that meets your needs. No two pregnancies, and no two deliveries, must be alike. Choosing where, and with whom, you receive care and deliver can have a major impact on the care you receive. The care you receive directly impacts your health and the health of your baby, as well as your satisfaction with the delivery process. It is imperative that you select a provider and setting that matches your goals and preferences. You can learn more about providers and settings available at www.ChildbirthConnection.org/HealthyPregnancy.
- Write a birth plan. Knowing ahead of time who you want present, what procedures you do or do not want, positions you prefer for labor, and what you would like done in the unlikely event of complications will help your care providers provide the care you want and need.
- Know what to expect- before, during, and after pregnancy. Knowing what is typical and healthy helps you know when/what to report to your healthcare provider. It enables you to identify potential concerns and helps you make informed decisions. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) advises against elective deliveries before 39 weeks of pregnancy, including cesarean sections unless medically necessary.
- Know your benefits and rights. If you were employed before delivery, it is important to know your employers maternity leave policy as well as your rights regarding the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). If you’ve been with your company for more than a year, you may take up to 12 weeks of unpaid time off, if full or partial paid leave is not a benefit. FMLA law guaruntees your job after your leave.
- Plan for support! Whether you’ve decided to pursue an adoption plan or to parent your child, having a baby is a big deal. It’s important to ask for, and accept, help when you need it. Knowing who to talk to in regards to your parenting or adoption plan is essential.
A healthy pregnancy and delivery are achievable goals. Knowing what resources and support are available will enable women and new parents to make informed decisions!