What You Should Know About Preparing for Baby
Whether you’re expecting your first child or welcoming another new member to your existing family, you may have questions when it comes to what you can expect during and after your pregnancy. As your delivery date draws closer, you need to know as much as you can to prepare for “The Big Day.”
Common Signs of Pregnancy
When you first become pregnant, your body experiences extensive hormonal changes as it prepares for your baby’s growth and development. While these hormonal changes help make your body an optimal environment for your little one, they also may cause many physical and emotional changes.
Missed Period or Spotting
The most common symptom that leads women to take a pregnancy test is a delayed period or light bleeding between periods. Even though most women don’t have a period during pregnancy, experiencing light bleeding at the beginning of pregnancy is common. According to the American Pregnancy Association, this is caused by implantation, which is when the embryo implants into the uterus.
With your body going through so many physical and hormonal changes, this can trigger an array of emotional changes as well. Increased levels of the hormones progesterone and estrogen can affect the neurotransmitters in your brain, which are responsible for mood regulation.
Many women report feeling tired during pregnancy, even as early as the first week. The American Pregnancy Association states that this is due to the increased levels of the hormone progesterone.
Changes in Vaginal Discharge
Most pregnant women will experience changes in their vaginal discharge during the early stages of pregnancy. During the first trimester, you may experience this discharge, called leukorrhea.
The Three Trimesters
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Your first trimester is marked from week one through week 12 of your pregnancy. During this time period, your body goes through the most hormonal changes as it prepares for your baby’s development. During this trimester, almost every system in the body is affected by your hormonal changes.
The second trimester takes place from weeks 13 to 28. During this timeframe, you will start to notice more physical changes to your body, and your belly will begin to expand to make room for your growing baby.
Your final trimester takes place from weeks 29 to 40. During the third trimester, your baby is growing rapidly and applying additional pressure to your internal organs. Your baby also turns upside down, preparing for delivery during this period.
End Unhealthy Habits
The way you treat your body directly affects your baby’s development, making it essential that you look after your health during pregnancy. It is recommended that you stop the following lifestyle habits as soon as you suspect that you may be pregnant:
Using tobacco products
Getting less than the recommended seven to nine hours of sleep each night
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Leading a sedentary lifestyle
Eating an unhealthy diet
Taking on a lot of stress
Foods to Avoid While Pregnant
It is recommended the pregnant woman should avoid the following foods, as they have the potential to cause complications that can negatively affect you and your baby:
- Raw eggs
- Deli meats
- Fish with high mercury levels
- Raw shellfish
- Smoked meats
- Soft cheeses
- Unpasteurized milk
- High amounts of caffeine
Because everyone’s body is different, you should discuss dietary precautions with your physician as there may be additional precautions you need to take while pregnant.
Benefits of Breastfeeding
Although the decision of whether or not to breastfeed is up to you, breastfeeding is highly recommended. This is because breastfeeding, even for a very short period of time, can deliver health benefits for both mother and baby:
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Benefits for Baby
- Lowers risk of health conditions such as asthma and eczema
- Supports the development of a healthy immune system
- Provides all vital vitamins and nutrients
Benefits for Mother
- Lowers risk for health issues such as type 2 diabetes and certain cancers
- Speeds weight loss after giving birth
- Helps uterus to contract and return to normal size
Baby Has Arrived: Looking After Your Newborn
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), sudden unexpected infant death (SUID) is one of the leading causes of death for newborn babies. To minimize the risk of sleep-related infant death, use the following tips when putting your little one to bed:
- Put your baby on his/her back to sleep
- Provide baby with a firm, flat surface for sleeping
- Keep your baby’s crib free of soft items
- Keep your baby’s crib or bassinet in your room for the first six months
- Avoid sleeping in the same bed with your baby
Car Seat Safety
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), car accidents are the leading cause of death for children from infancy to aged 19, in the U.S. Therefore, it is critically important to ensure your child’s safety when riding in a moving vehicle.
When choosing your child’s car seat, his/her age, height and weight can help you to determine the best fit:
- Rear-facing car seats are appropriate for infants and small toddlers up to 40 pounds.
- Forward-facing car seats are appropriate for children up to 65 pounds.
- Booster seats are appropriate for children, aged eight to 12.
- Car seat belts are appropriate for children once they’ve outgrown their booster seats.
Maternity Services in Northeast Ohio
At Southwest General Health Center, we are prepared to work closely with you to have the most optimal birthing experience possible. Helping patients welcome new members to their families is one of the most joyous services we provide, and our compassionate staff is honored to play a role in this tremendous journey.
To learn more about our services for expectant mothers or to schedule an appointment, visit our website.
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