Preparing For Motherhood: How To Protect Your Health And Your Growing Baby
North American Precis Syndicate
Be good to your baby during pregnancy by looking after your own health. (NAPS)
(NAPSI)—Pregnancy is an exciting time, from decorating the nursery
to reading every parenting book available. The most important thing expecting
moms can do for themselves and their baby is to
protect their health throughout pregnancy. Start by being aware of what the
science says about preventing common conditions that can emerge during
pregnancy and about daily supplements that can support your baby’s
Taking Folic Acid
If you are pregnant or trying to become pregnant, it’s important to
take a daily vitamin that contains folic acid (0.4 to 0.8 mg). Folic acid is
essential to your baby’s growing brain and to spinal cord development.
Too little folic acid has been linked to serious birth defects, which occur
in about six to seven out of every 10,000 babies born. Ask your doctor which
supplement is right for you.
Monitoring Blood Pressure
One of the most serious pregnancy conditions is pre-eclampsia.
It’s associated with high blood pressure after 20 weeks of pregnancy
and can lead to life-threatening complications for moms and infants. It’s
a leading cause of preterm delivery (when a baby is born too early) and low
birth weight in the United States, accounting for nearly one in five preterm
births. Your doctor will screen you for pre-eclampsia
by measuring your blood pressure throughout pregnancy. Fortunately, low-dose
aspirin (81 mg per day) can reduce the risk of pre-eclampsia
for some women at increased risk, so your doctor may suggest taking a
low-dose aspirin every day to help protect you and your baby. Talk to your
doctor about any questions you have.
Screening for Gestational Diabetes
Another health condition that can happen during pregnancy is gestational
diabetes. Diabetes is a disease in which the body doesn’t make enough
insulin (a hormone) or use it correctly. This means the body can’t turn
starches or sugars from foods and drinks into the energy it needs to
function, and the buildup of sugar in the blood leads to complications
throughout the body. About 6 percent of pregnant women develop gestational
diabetes, which can cause difficult delivery and an increased risk of
diabetes later in life. Babies born to mothers with gestational diabetes may
have low blood sugar, which can increase a baby’s risk of seizures and
obesity later in childhood. Screening for the condition is fairly easy.
Testing is done during weeks 24 to 28 of pregnancy, or earlier if there is a
higher risk of gestational diabetes due to obesity or a family history of
diabetes. This simple test consists of drinking 50 g of a sugary liquid and
then measuring with a blood test to see how quickly your body gets rid of it.
Ask your doctor about when you should take this important test.
Identifying Depression During or
Some women experience depression during or after pregnancy—even if
they didn’t have symptoms before getting pregnant. If you feel
persistent sadness, you aren’t alone. About 10 percent of pregnant
women experience major depressive episodes and these episodes can continue
after the baby arrives. Depression may affect the baby, too, because it can
disrupt a mom’s ability to care for herself and her newborn. The good
news is that depression can be managed through treatments like behavioral
therapy, so check in with your doctor regularly about how you are feeling.
Screening for Infections
Screening for infections like HIV, hepatitis B, syphilis, gonorrhea and chlamydia is another important part of caring for
yourself and your baby during pregnancy. Some of these infections don’t
cause problems right away, which is why it’s important to get tested
early. Treating these infections during pregnancy will help reduce the chance
that the infection will be passed on to your baby and cause complications.
A simple blood test can be used to detect three different kinds of
infections: HIV, hepatitis B and syphilis. The HIV test checks for antibodies
(disease-fighting proteins) that react specifically to the virus. Women with
HIV are given antiviral medicines that greatly reduce the likelihood of the
baby getting HIV. Screening for the hepatitis B virus should happen during
your first prenatal visit and also involves a test that looks for certain
antibodies. Infants born to mothers with the virus should get the hepatitis B
vaccine and hepatitis B immune globulin (another disease-fighting protein)
within 12 hours of birth to help prevent infection. Similarly, the syphilis
bacterium is found through a blood test and antibiotics treat infection in
the mother and help prevent infections and serious birth defects in the baby.
Screening for chlamydia and gonorrhea involves
testing a urine sample or a swab from the vagina. If the test comes back
positive, both conditions can be treated with antibiotics.
Talk to your doctor about these and other infections that can affect your
Recommendations to Protect You and
Your Baby’s Health
These recommendations were developed by the U.S. Preventive Services Task
Force—an independent group of national experts in prevention. The Task
Force makes recommendations, based on the latest science, about what works
and what doesn’t work when it comes to preventing disease and promoting
For more information on these and other Task Force recommendations, visit www.uspreventiveservicestaskforce.org.
“The most important thing
expecting moms can do for themselves and their baby
is to protect their health throughout pregnancy, such as by taking daily supplements
to support baby’s development. http://bit.ly/2A6JfMW”
On the Net:North American Precis Syndicate, Inc.(NAPSI)