Being a mother involves major responsibilities and love. That’s why it’s important to take steps before, during and after pregnancy.
If you’re thinking about becoming pregnant, consider the following:
1. Plan your pregnancy
- If you have doubts about pregnancy and motherhood, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has a section titled My Reproductive Life Plan that provides a series of tips to help you.
- Discuss your plans with your primary care doctor and get a referral to an obstetrician, gynecologist or midwife.
- Keep a copy of your medical history. That way any doctor will have a record of any health issue that may affect your pregnancy.
- Be sure to maintain a healthy lifestyle to contribute to your baby’s health
2. Take care of yourself during pregnancy
- Perform all the necessary prenatal tests that your doctor orders. This is the best way to prevent complications during and after childbirth.
- During the third trimester the visits to the doctor will be more frequent. Tell your doctor about any issues or complications related to your pregnancy.
- Choose where you want to give birth. You can have your baby in a traditional hospital or in a maternity clinic, or even have a home birth where legally allowed. Check what options are available to you under your health insurance.
3. After giving birth
- Know the benefits of breastfeeding, like health advantages for mom and baby, saving money, and losing weight gained during pregnancy. Breast milk is also easier to digest and provides your baby with your body’s natural defenses.
- Be sure to rest. After giving birth, make it a point to rest so that your body can heal and your mind can adjust to all the changes. Limit the number of visitors during the first few days after childbirth. Use this time to strengthen the bond with your newborn.
- Be prepared for changes. Some women could have physical changes after childbirth. Your doctor can provide a safe exercise routine to get you back into shape.
- Ask your doctor how much recovery time your body needs before you can have intimate relations with your partner.
If you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant, find out how to protect your unborn baby from infections that can cause serious health problems.
A few of the infections that affect unborn babies or newborns include:
- Group B Strep — About 1 in 4 women carry Group B Strep. This bacteria is usually not harmful to you, but it can be passed on to your baby during childbirth and lead to a potentially deadly infection in your newborn. If you test positive for Group B Strep, you can protect your baby by getting IV antibiotics during labor.
- Cytomegalovirus (CMV) — Some babies born with CMV infection will develop permanent health problems, such as hearing or vision loss or mental disabilities. Help protect your unborn baby by washing your hands often, avoiding contact with saliva and urine, and taking additional precautions to reduce your risk of exposure to CMV.
- Listeriosis — Pregnant women are 13 times more likely than the general population to get listeriosis, a serious infection caused by eating food contaminated with the bacteria Listeria. Protect yourself and your unborn baby by avoiding certain foods while you’re pregnant.
Image description: Should you put sunscreen on infants? Not usually. The best approach is to keep infants under 6 months out of the sun, especially between 10:00 AM and 2:00 PM.
But when you are outside together, here are some of the most important ways to protect your infant from the harmful rays of the sun: an umbrella and brimmed hat for shade, a cooler for liquids, a bottle for hydration, and clothing for covering the skin.
Learn more about keeping babies safe in the sun.
Graphic by Michael J. Ermarth, Food and Drug Administration
From the National Zoo:
The Smithsonian’s National Zoo recently oversaw the births of two fishing cats, one of Asia’s most elusive species. The kittens were born between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. May 18 in an off-exhibit den. Their birth marks an important milestone: this is the first time fishing cats have successfully bred and produced young at the National Zoo.
Learn more about the birth of the fishing cats.
Picture from the National Zoo.
Parents sometimes use products with benzocaine as pain relievers for teething babies. However, the use of benzocaine, a local anesthetic found in some over-the-counter products, including Anbesol, Hurricaine, Orajel, Baby Orajel, and Orabase, can lead to a rare but potentially fatal condition called methemoglobinemia.
According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), children under 2 years of age are at especially high risk. Adults with heart disease or breathing problems and smokers are also at increased risk.
Review FDA’s warning, Benzocaine and Babies: Not a Good Mix, for a list of symptoms of methemoglobinemia and see suggested alternatives for soothing teething babies.