Answers to Your Pre Pregnancy Questions
I’m ready to get pregnant. How can I prepare my body to boost preconception health?
We live in a health-conscious community, so it’s a way of life that will pay off when it’s time to get pregnant. Now more than ever, embrace wellness by eating a balanced diet, drinking plenty of water and adding a prenatal vitamin each day to get the recommended dose of 400-800 micrograms of folic acid. Not all pregnancies are planned, but if you are able to talk with us three months prior to conception, your ObGyn will provide a preconception checklist to help you follow a clear path to a healthy pregnancy. This includes assessing your vaccinations to ensure that you are up-to-date before getting pregnant.
Are there habits that I absolutely have to break?
Yes. Your obgyn will provide counsel and resources to help you identify and quit any practice that will harm your baby: having unprotected sex, smoking cigarettes, drinking excessive amounts of alcohol and taking some forms of prescription drugs and any illegal drug. Ask your physician about any areas of concern.
How do I know that I am ovulating?
Your body is sending you clues each month that it is primed for pregnancy. Pay attention to your menstrual cycles now and track your ovulation with an over-the-counter kit. Having regular periods is a good sign that you are releasing an egg each month, so see your obgyn if you experience irregular, painful or heavy periods. Also, calculate your body mass index, BMI, as fat cells produce estrogen that can cause problems with ovulation in women who are underweight or overweight.
It’s taking me longer than expected to get pregnant. Should I worry?
Are you over age 35? In addition to ovulation problems, maternal age is one of the leading causes of infertility. As a general rule, we ask women under 35 to consult with a physician after 12 months of trying to get pregnant. Women over 35 should raise the red flag after six months. Ideally, you have already set a preconception health appointment so we will develop a timeline together.
What is on my checklist when deciding on an obstetrician?
A good rapport is essential, of course, but we also advise women to consider experience and expertise as must-haves for an obgyn. The majority of pregnancies proceed along as planned—from first sonogram through labor and delivery. If you do have a complication arise, however, you will benefit from partnering with a physician experienced in high-risk OB care. The RWG team has privileges at St. David’s Women’s Center of Texas at North Austin Medical Center, with immediate access to Level III Neonatal Intensive Care if needed. What’s more, all of our nurses and sonographers are trained in providing the very latest in prenatal diagnostic services.
I’ve heard about genetic screening? Who needs this test?
Advances in DNA mapping now make it easier and more affordable than ever to learn essential facts—prior to conception—that can safeguard the health of your baby. Many people are symptomless carriers of inheritable genetic disease. When two people who are carriers have a baby, there may be as much as a 1 in 4 chance of passing along the active form of a disease like cystic fibrosis. Some ethnicities are at greater risk, so ask your obgyn about the benefits of preconception carrier screening.
Which is better for my baby: natural childbirth or an epidural?
This is an emotionally charged question for many of our Austin-area patients. We are by your side, offering support and research-supported facts about all of your pain management options, including natural pain control, or an epidural, spinal or even general anesthesia. We will support you in whatever choice you make.
What can I do to feel prepared for the journey ahead?
A word of caution about friends and family members with competing stories about the longest labor or most prolonged contraction; they mean well, but you may also consider classes with other first-time parents. At RWG, we offer ongoing options focused on childbirth, breastfeeding, newborn care and infant CPR.