YOUR PREGNANCY JOURNEY
You are Pregnant?
If you have a Positive Pregnancy Test it is time to make an appointment.
When you call our office, all newly pregnant patients meet with Dr Alexander to review your medical history and provide you with important information about having a healthy pregnancy.
The first visit involves
a full examination
a review of available prenatal testing,
planning for further antenatal testing as required
draw a brief plan for the second trimester.
The routine follow up antenatal visits will be
every 4 weeks up till 28 weeks,
every 2 weeks between 28-36 weeks and
weekly afterwards until delivery.
Delivery mode and management is discussed throughout the third trimester.
A normal term pregnancy is 40 weeks. Births between 32 and 37 weeks are considered preterm deliveries.
An “early preterm birth” occurs before 32 weeks. Early preterm babies may require special medical care as preterm babies can result in serious, long-term health problems, or may suffer from physical or mental disability
Early Signs of Pregnancy
Sometimes during the early stages of pregnancy some observed signs are:
Frequent urination or urinary tract infection,
Lack of hunger or unnatural food cravings and
Mood swings are other possible complications
First Three Months
The first trimester (first three months) is the most critical time in a pregnancy because all the major organs of the baby develop during this period.
Care During Pregnancy
Prenatal care is very important to make sure you and your baby are healthy.
Dr Alexander may advise you to practice various measures to ensure better health and safe pregnancy.
Listed below are some of the common measures and therefore the list is not complete.
Maintain a healthy, balanced diet by eating nutritious food that contributes to your baby’s growth and development. Dr Alexander may also suggest nutritional supplements or preparations containing calcium, iron, and folic acid. Folic acid prevents problems in your child’s brain and spinal cord. Folic acid is considered best if used before you become pregnant.
Avoid taking any medicines, including over the counter medicines, if not suggested by Dr Alexander, as they may cause birth defects.
Regular exercises may be beneficial during pregnancy as they may relieve the discomfort during pregnancy. Walking and swimming are most preferred and recommended. You must ensure that these exercises are not overdone. You should drink plenty of water to prevent dehydration.
Avoid smoking, taking drugs such as heroin, cocaine, and alcohol as they may cause miscarriage, premature birth, and low birth weight of the infant.
Avoid sitting in a sauna bath or hot tub as heat increases risk of miscarriages and birth defects.
Sleep on your left side as it prevents baby’s weight from applying pressure to the large blood vessels that carry blood to the heart, feet and legs.
Avoid tight clothing to prevent varicose veins, swelling, and haemorrhoids in your legs. It also optimizes blood flow to the baby and to your placenta.
Avoid intake of caffeine-containing products such as coffee or other drinks as it increases risk of miscarriage. Avoid eating shark, swordfish and tuna steaks as they may contain high levels of mercury that can damage the fetus' brain.
Avoid cleaning cat’s litter box and eating raw or undercooked meat as it may cause toxoplasmosis, an infection that leads to chances of fetal eye and brain damage, poor growth, and premature birth.
Low Risk Pregnancy
Pregnancy is an exciting time for women, but complications may develop sometimes even in healthy women.
There are many health issues that can create a risk to you and your baby. A pregnancy that has no maternal or foetal complications is considered to be a low risk pregnancy.
Most pregnancy complications can easily be detected and prevented with routine prenatal care.
Management of low risk pregnancy
Dr Alexander will be assessing your pregnancy progress and determine whether you fit into the category of low risk pregnancy. Low risk pregnancy is a pregnancy that is not complicated by:
expecting twins, or
other complications during your pregnancy
Women with low risk pregnancies have obviously wider choice of options, and have a better chance of achieving a natural birth. During a natural birth, you can go through labour and delivery without any pain relievers or epidural anaesthesia. There will be minimal medical interventions such as foetal monitoring and intravenous therapy.
Natural childbirth is very safe if you follow Dr Alexander’s recommendations correctly.
Steps to promote a healthy pregnancy
The following are some steps that can prevent risks during pregnancy:
Preconception appointments: It is good to consult Dr Alexander before planning to get pregnant. You can discuss your medical condition and understand your overall health and chances of pregnancy in detail during your consultation.
Regular prenatal care: A regular prenatal visit can help Dr Alexander monitor yours and your baby’s health.
Healthy diet: You will be advised to follow a healthy diet and take essential nutrients like folic acid, calcium and iron.
Avoid risky substances: You are advised to quit smoking, alcohol and illegal drugs to prevent complications during pregnancy.
Weight gain: A weight gain of approximately 25 to 35 pounds is recommended if you have had a healthy weight before pregnancy.
Nutrition During Pregnancy
Now that you are pregnant, it is important to maintain a healthy, well-balanced diet with a variety of food so that you and your baby get all the important nutrients required for normal growth, development and healing.
A diet consisting of the right balance of carbohydrates, proteins, fats, minerals, vitamins and water constitutes a healthy diet. A variety of food in recommended proportions is suggested for optimal health for you and your baby.
Some important nutrients to be included in your diet are:
Folic acid: Folic acid prevents neural tube defects in the early stages of a developing fetus. Getting the recommended amount of folic acid alone from food may be difficult; hence, it is necessary to include folic acid supplements before and during your pregnancy.
Calcium and Vitamin D: A growing baby has high demands for calcium and vitamin D as bones and teeth develop. You can take in calcium through food or as supplements during pregnancy. Foods with high sources of calcium, such as milk, milk products and broccoli, should be included in your regular diet. Vitamin D can be obtained from milk fortified with vitamin D and from exposure to sunlight.
Iron: During pregnancy, your body produces more blood to carry oxygen to the growing fetus; hence, the quantity of iron required for this transfer of oxygen, needs to be increased. You should include iron-rich food such as fish, poultry, lean red meat, prunes and dried beans into your diet. Including vitamin C rich foods, such as tomatoes and citrus fruits, helps in faster absorption of iron in the body.
Fish: Fish is a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids and an important nutrient for the development of your baby’s brain, before and after birth. Fatty fish like salmon is a good source of Vitamin D and sardines are rich in calcium. However, fish with high concentrations of mercury, such as shark and swordfish, should be limited or avoided during pregnancy, as mercury is responsible for causing birth defects and damaging the baby’s nervous system.
Consumption of alcohol and caffeine should be avoided during pregnancy.
Food to Avoid During Pregnancy
Other food to be avoided include:
Un-pasteurized milk, cheese and juices
Raw eggs and foods that have raw eggs such as Caesar salad
Uncooked seafood and meat
Processed meat products
Being a vegetarian during pregnancy
Doctors generally do not suggest a vegetarian diet while pregnant, but if you are a vegan or vegetarian, you can continue with the same foods.
Dr Alexander may suggest protein, vitamin B12 and vitamin D supplements if you do not consume meat, eggs, milk products and seafood.
Reducing Birth Defects
Birth defects are structural or functional abnormalities that are present at birth. These defects occur while a baby is developing in the mother's body. Some of these are clinically obvious at birth; however, a few get diagnosed much later in life.
Birth defects are the structural or functional abnormalities that are present at birth.
Some birth defects can be reduced or totally avoided if risk factors are identified and appropriate preventive measures are taken. These include:
Age: If you are 35 years or older, then the chances of delivering a baby with birth defects are increased.
Genetic history: If you have a family or personal history of birth defects, then the baby may also have birth defects.
Medical conditions: There is an increased risk if you are suffering from medical conditions such as diabetes.
Previous delivery: If you already have a child with a birth defect, then you are at an increased risk.
Drugs and alcohol: Consumption of illegal drugs and alcohol puts you in the high-risk category.
Obesity: An obese mother is more likely to deliver a baby with neural tube defects, heart defects and abdominal wall defects.
These defects occur while a baby is developing in the mother's body. Some of these are clinically obvious at birth; however, a few get diagnosed much later in life. Examples of birth defects include cleft lip, heart defects and neural tube defects.