Dr. La Follette’s Top 10 Tips for First Time Moms
For many first time moms, their pregnancy experience is equal parts joyful excitement and daunting overwhelm. The reason? While pregnancy is a beautiful and wondrous milestone in a woman’s life, it is filled with physical, hormonal, and emotional changes, as well as the need to subside fears and lessen stress. Here are my top ten tips for first-time moms-to-be—all focused on mind and body working together to encourage an optimum experience:
Learn as Much as You Can About the Birthing Process
Read books on labor and birth, attend childbirth classes to learn what to expect each month of pregnancy and labor coping skills. Pregnancy self-educating will increase your body confidence, trust in the birth process, ease when talking with your providers, and ability to make intervention decisions if suggested. I recommend reading: “The Thinking Woman’s Guide to a Better Birth” by Henci Goer; “The Official Lamaze Guide: Giving Birth with Confidence” by Judith Lothian and Charlotte Devries; and “Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth” by Ina May Gaskin. Also” Expecting Better ” by Emily Oster, which debunks false claims (caffeine is actually good not bad) with scientific support. I also recommend two booklets published by Childbirth Connection, “What Every Pregnant Woman Needs to Know about Cesarean Section” and “Pathway to a Healthy Birth.” Of note, “A Declaration of the Rights of Childbearing Women” written in 1999 by Leilah McCracken for Midwifery Today, is still a timely information-sharing piece.
Create the Birth Plan You Want
Take time early in your pregnancy to think about the kind of birth you want—and then take steps to increase your chances of getting what you want. This means creating the birth plan you want—outlining such things as your preference (or not) for pain medication during labor and delivery. Now right after you write out the plan and have an idea, consider shredding the document: labor comes with all sorts of surprises, and having a plan can work against your being able to roll with the punches. Covid rules have changed a lot of access but now most hospitals will allow both your partner and a support person.
Of note, at La Follette OB-GYN and Aesthetics, our mission statement is “think like a midwife, act like a doctor”. Now we have added Danielle Carlson, our own midwife so you can have it all in our office. We believe in communication so there is a smooth plan by offering personalized medicine, listening to our expectant moms and following their wishes, intervening with their plan only if medically necessary.
Cover Nutritional Gaps in Your Diet by Taking a Daily Prenatal Vitamin
Prenatal vitamins are packed with minerals and nutrients essential to your baby’s growth. Filled with folic acid, iodine, iron, and calcium, prenatal vitamins are a must during pregnancy because they help cover nutritional gaps that may be in your diet. You might consider taking a mercury-free omega-3 supplement during pregnancy too—for decreasing symptoms of depression.
Did you know it’s recommended to take a daily prenatal vitamin when trying to conceive—as a jumpstart to enhance your baby’s growth during the first month of pregnancy (which is when the brain and spinal cord develop)? Of note too, many would-be dads don’t know they should have plenty of folic acid, zinc and vitamin C in their diets—all vital for optimal sperm production and quality.
Eat and Drink with You and Your Baby’s Health in Mind
Cooler temperatures and running around often cause a mom-to-be to feel dehydrated, hungrier, fatigued, and faint. It is therefore critical during pregnancy to always have within reach two things: water and a protein- or iron-rich snack such as peanut butter or cheese slices. The Institute of Medicine suggests all pregnant women in temperate climates drink 12 or 13 8-ounce glasses of water daily and eat healthy foods—including folate-rich foods, fruits, and certain kinds of cooked fish (in moderate amounts).
Try a Prenatal Yoga Class and Stay Physically Active
Prenatal yoga is a great way to stay active, healthy, and reduce stress. This form of yoga, catering specifically to pregnant women, focuses on poses that increase strength and flexibility during pregnancy. Prenatal yoga can help mom-to-be maintain a healthy mind and body. Additionally, it offers breathing and relaxation techniques to help during the labor process.
The truth is, physical activity during pregnancy improves and maintains fitness, helps with weight management, and reduces the risk of gestational diabetes. Moms-to-be should always check with their healthcare provider for exercise approval. It is recommended that pregnant women get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity every week. The 150 minutes can be divided into 30-minute workouts on five days of the week or into smaller 10-minute workouts each day. Increasing energy output comes in many forms, including walking, jogging, biking, rowing machine, elliptical machine, and swimming. Those moms-to-be new to exercise should start out slowly and gradually increase activity; those active before can do the same workouts with approval by their healthcare provider
Get a PreTRM Test
The PreTRM test is a new blood test that reveals if mom-to-be is at risk for delivering prematurely. Done during the 19th or 20th week of pregnancy, blood is tested for a protein that is indicative of premature birth. Those who should especially consider this test include women who:
- received IVF treatments or needed medical assistance getting pregnant
- had difficulty getting pregnant
- decided to start a family after the age of 35
- have previously miscarried.
Join a Support Group
Joining a support group is a great way for first-time expectant moms to strengthen relationships with their family and friends, as well as socialize with other moms. Support groups offer a space safe to learn tools from other moms and discuss concerns, topics, and feelings. Mom-to-be develops new relationships with others going through the same experiences and builds a strong community of long-lasting relationships.
Ask Questions of Your Doctor
It is important to talk to your doctor about concerns and symptoms that arise during your pregnancy—including the embarrassing question, too. (It’s perfectly natural for embarrassing and unusual symptoms to develop.) Don’t jump online and start Googling to find answers to your questions. Instead, write down your concerns (so you don’t forget) and schedule an appointment with your OB-GYN. My motto is, please do not confuse your Google search with my medical degree.
Track Your Weight Gain
It is important for mom-to-be to track her weight, not only to make sure she isn’t gaining too much but to make sure she isn’t gaining too little. She should monitor her weight regularly on her own and also regularly check in with her doctor about her weight gain. Of note, a woman who was average weight before getting pregnant will generally gain 25 to 35 pounds during her pregnancy.
As a mom-to-be you are a superhero bringing another human into the world. Remember—even superheroes deserve a break. Safely indulging every now and then is integral to a happy and healthy pregnancy. Simply put, take care of yourself.
This could be doing something as simple as taking a nap or a warm bath, getting a prenatal massage, doing five minutes of meditation each day, going to a yoga class to relieve aches and pains, or taking a babymoon.
If you are a first-time mom or an expectant mother and would like to learn more about our services, please call our office at (415) 461-1949 or request your appointment online to schedule a consultation with one of our providers.