Have a healthy baby and pregnancy with this expert advice

Preparing for the arrival of your newborn is an exciting time for your family. While the planning process can be overwhelming at times, it’s important to make decisions to ensure you and your baby are healthy during and after pregnancy. Upon sharing your exciting news, you may repeatedly hear certain advice such as don’t skip meals, stay hydrated and avoid overheating. While these recommendations are very valuable, there are several other tips equally as important, but less frequently discussed. Understanding the following expert advice can help you make the necessary decisions to ensure a safe, happy, and healthy pregnancy.


Do

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  • get plenty of rest
  • consider genetic & newborn screening
  • sign up for classes to prepare for your newborn
  • find a pediatrician
  • consider cord blood banking
Don't

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  • forget vaccinations
  • start a new workout
  • be around paints or cleaning product fumes
  • forget to track kick counts
  • stress

Winifred Lin Soufi‘s recommendation to ExpertBeacon readers: Do

Do get plenty of rest

During pregnancy, your body works extra hard to protect and nurture your growing baby. It is essential to get plenty of rest to sustain your energy during this time. Sometimes pregnancy can be uncomfortable and impact your sleep. Start to develop a sleep schedule so your body can naturally adjust and prolong sleep throughout the night. Try resting on your side to improve comfort as well as increase blood flow and alleviate swelling. Remember that sleep builds your immune system, so get ample amounts of sleep by taking naps.

Do consider genetic & newborn screening

When visiting your OB/GYN, discuss genetic testing options to help monitor the health and well-being of your baby before birth. Genetic testing is important, especially if you or your partner’s family has a history of hereditary concerns. First trimester screens, such as the verifi® Prenatal Test and the First Trimester Screen | Fβ, identify risk for specific chromosomal abnormalities, including Down syndrome, Trisomy 13 and Trisomy 18. Noninvasive prenatal testing can detect these kinds of health concerns as early as week 10 of pregnancy.

Newborn screening is another step to discuss with your OB/GYN. Screening at birth can detect several genetic and rare diseases, including sickle cell disease, cystic fibrosis and hypothyroidism. Newborn screening can help you get an early start on care for and avoid preventable complications of undiagnosed conditions. Currently, every state runs its own newborn screening program. While some states only screen for a handful of diseases, you can take advantage of services that screen beyond what it traditionally covered by your state. Ask your OB/GYN provider about the newborn screening programs available for your family.

Do sign up for classes to prepare for your newborn

One of the best ways to prepare for your newborn is to participate in pre-labor classes offered by hospitals, community organizations and private instructors. Look for classes offering guidance on childbirth preparation, breastfeeding and infant CPR. Knowing how to handle certain situations before birth will help put you at ease during those first few months.

Do find a pediatrician

Before your baby is born, start considering who you would like to be his or her pediatrician. It’s better to have one selected before a need arises. Ask your OB/GYN and friends and coworkers with children for recommendations. Set up interviews with a few potential candidates and feel free to bring questions that will help you determine the best pediatrician for your family. Make sure they are knowledgeable in disease prevention, child development and emerging medical advancements. You want to feel comfortable with your baby’s pediatrician because they will play an integral role in your baby’s well-being.

Do consider cord blood banking

Cord blood banking is a valuable decision to consider during pregnancy that your baby may benefit from after birth. Family cord blood banks, such as ViaCord, collect and preserve your baby’s umbilical cord stem cells to use for potential medical treatments should the need arise later on. Currently, stems cells have been used in the treatment of nearly 80 diseases. If your family has a history of certain genetic traits, cancers or blood disorders, cord blood banking is a great option to discuss with your OB/GYN provider.


Winifred Lin Soufi‘s professional advice to ExpertBeacon readers: Don't

Do not forget vaccinations

While not every vaccination is safe to receive when you’re expecting, certain ones are a must to ensure your health and that of your unborn child. Between 29 to 35 weeks of pregnancy, make sure to get the tetanus pertussis vaccination. This vaccine prevents the whooping cough, which can be fatal to your newborn. Your risk of catching the flu increases during pregnancy, so getting your flu shot is a must. Create a healthy environment by ensuring all family members and friends who will come into contact with your newborn are up-to-date on their vaccinations as well.

Do not start a new workout

Starting new or intense workouts may lead to overexertion and overheating, increasing the risk of oxygen and blood flow restriction to your unborn baby. Avoid any exercises that involve lengthy, vigorous activities, body contact or risk of falling to prevent trauma. Try specific classes designed for pregnancy such as prenatal yoga or Pilates. If you had an exercise routine prior to becoming pregnant, check with your OB/GYN provider to ask about continuing it with slight modifications. Since every pregnancy is different, it is important to consult with your doctor before continuing your regular workout schedule or incorporating a new one. Exercising the right way provides stress relief, alleviates aches and pains and helps you sleep better during pregnancy.

Do not be around paints or cleaning product fumes

Preparing your baby’s nursery before the big day is one of the joys of pregnancy, but prolonged exposure to paint and cleaning product fumes is harmful. Lead and solvent-based paints contain certain chemicals that are dangerous to your developing baby. When decorating your baby’s room, purchase paint and materials designed specifically for nurseries as these tend to have fewer harmful substances. Household cleaning products can harm your baby’s developing lungs and other organs. Paint fumes and cleaning chemicals pose a greater threat to your baby during your first trimester, so avoid all exposure to them at this time. When using any of these products, make sure to be in a well-ventilated room, wear protective clothing and use a mask to reduce your risk. If possible, leave the painting and cleaning to your partner, your friends or the professionals.

Do not forget to track kick counts

Feeling your baby kick for the first time is an exciting part of pregnancy and a great way to monitor your baby’s growth and health. You can begin tracking your baby’s fetal kick or movement counts as early as 24-28 weeks of pregnancy. Try developing a routine of tracking kick counts three times per day after meals. Record the number of kicks, turns and slight movements within this timeframe. Document any major deviations from usual patterns, noting you should count at least four movements in a one-hour period. At 32 weeks, you should be able to count 10 kicks within a two-hour period. If you notice any significant changes or lack of movement, contact your healthcare provider immediately.

Do not stress

Your mental health is just as important as maintaining your physical wellbeing. Stress can negatively impact your sleep, diet and immune system, ultimately affecting your baby. Enjoy pregnancy massages, take bubble baths or practice breathing exercises to pamper yourself and alleviate stress. Stay positive to create a happy and healthy environment for your growing baby. Don’t let the planning process become overwhelming, instead remember the joys to come when welcoming your new baby into the family.


Summary

When planning the arrival of your newborn, you want to do everything you can to ensure a healthy baby and pregnancy. With so many tips and decisions associated with pregnancy, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. Always remember, you are not alone. Your OB/GYN is here to help guide you should any questions or concern arise. Use this time to educate yourself on life-changing options, pamper yourself and safely prepare for your baby’s big day.

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