Contemplating having your first baby raises many questions for first-time moms, and they only multiply once you become pregnant. Maybe you’ve read a few baby books or talked to friends and family about their experiences. While this can be reassuring, one of the most important relationships you’ll have is with an OB/GYN.
“We help guide moms and their families through the entire process, and focus on keeping mom and baby healthy,” explains Robin Whatley, MD, OB/GYN on staff at Adventist Bolingbrook Hospital.
Here, Dr. Whatley shares health tips for new moms before, during and after pregnancy.
Before you’re pregnant
- Get your health in check. Underlying medical conditions, poor diet, certain medications and smoking could affect your fertility and, eventually, your unborn baby. “I always tell my patients that if they are thinking about conceiving, they need to come in for a physical,” Dr. Whatley says. During the physical exam, your OB/GYN will evaluate your health, schedule any screenings and discuss a pregnancy plan.
- Start prenatal vitamins. “The right levels of folic acid in the mother’s body can prevent certain fetal abnormalities, such as spinal defects,” Dr. Whatley says. The U.S. Public Health Service recommends that all women of childbearing age consume 400 micrograms of folic acid each day.
- Understand your fertility. You can track ovulation using online tools, over-the-counter test kits, or by measuring your basal body temperature. “Remember not to stress and have fun during the process,” Dr. Whatley says. “Added stress can affect your fertility.” If you’re having trouble conceiving after one year, your doctor may refer you to a fertility specialist.
During your pregnancy
- Continue living a healthy lifestyle. Follow your OB/GYN’s guidelines for diet and exercise. You’ll also have to modify your lifestyle to avoid certain foods and activities. “I recommend that women schedule an appointment with their OB/GYN to establish good prenatal care right from the beginning,” says Dr. Whatley.
- Take your body’s changes in stride. Each trimester will bring new changes and challenges. During the first trimester, you may experience morning sickness and fatigue. Give your body the rest it needs and alter your diet to suit you and the baby. In the second trimester, moms tend to gain more energy and a bigger appetite. Use the third trimester to relax and solidify a birthing plan with your OB/GYN.
Immediately after your pregnancy
- Get as much rest as possible. Rest will allow your mind and body to recover, so you can better focus on your newborn. “Babies are incredibly intuitive. So when mom is stressed from lack of sleep, they may sense this,” Dr. Whatley says.
- Try breastfeeding. The health benefits of breastfeeding for mom and baby are plenty. Adventist Midwest Health offers a complete breastfeeding program to help new moms learn the mechanics. Get the details here.
- Surround yourself with support. Your parents, siblings, friends and your baby’s pediatrician want to help; let them! “Take time for your mind and body to relax and rejuvenate,” Dr. Whatley says. Remember, if you’re feeling blue for extended period of time, it is very important to speak with your doctor about the symptoms of postpartum depression.
To find an OB/GYN today, call 866-533-7968.