OB ABCs

Week 6

week_06You have taken an at-home pregnancy test and the results are positive—congratulations on expecting a baby! As soon as possible, schedule your first prenatal appointment with your healthcare provider to confirm the pregnancy and begin prenatal care.

You have taken an at-home pregnancy test and the results are positive—congratulations on expecting a baby! As soon as possible, schedule your first prenatal appointment with your healthcare provider to confirm the pregnancy and begin prenatal care.

Many newly expectant moms have not yet selected a physician. Good candidates include:

  • OB/GYNs—physicians who specialize in childbirth, pregnancy and women’s health
  • Family practitioners—physicians who offer obstetrical care in addition to a wide range of medical services

What’s Up, Doc?

Once you have settled on a prenatal care provider, invite your partner to join you for what potentially can be a lengthy appointment to learn more about the weeks and months ahead. At your first visit, your healthcare provider will ask detailed questions about your medical history, including allergies, use of over-the-counter and prescription medications, past pregnancies and family history. Each question helps to identify the best plan of care for you and your growing child.

Blood tests, urine tests, a physical exam and a pelvic exam at this visit will assess your current health. Based on the start date of your last period, your “estimated” due date will be determined by counting ahead 40 weeks—the time needed for a human baby to fully develop (gestation).

Make a Choice, Make It Yours

Making the following lifestyle choices will help you have a healthy pregnancy and increase the likelihood of a healthy baby:

  • Because there is no established “safe” amount, avoid alcohol altogether while pregnant.
  • Avoid all recreational drugs. Continued drug use may contribute to birth defects, poor growth and premature birth as well as lifelong behavior and learning problems for your child.
  • Quit smoking and avoid smoke exposure to reduce the risk for low birth weight, premature birth, stillbirth, SIDS and childhood asthma. Consult your physician for assistance to stop smoking.
  • Limit or eliminate caffeine, which is associated with an increased risk of miscarriage. The highest concentrations are in coffee, sodas and tea, however, the relatively low amount of caffeine found in chocolate makes it safe for consumption in small amounts during pregnancy.

Better Safe Than Sorry

Women who have just learned they are pregnant can further lower their risk for complications by making changes to their diet for the duration of the pregnancy. Consuming unpasteurized milk and cheeses, foods containing raw eggs, hot dogs and deli meats (unless cooked to steaming), undercooked meat and raw fish or shellfish can cause food-borne illnesses, which have been linked with birth defects or miscarriage.

If you have a cat, please talk to your physician and assign someone else to clean the litter box to reduce your risk for toxoplasmosis. Initial exposure to cat litter may cause flu-like symptoms in a pregnant woman but can cause brain damage, eye problems and the premature birth of your unborn baby.