Starting a family is a life-changing milestone. To give yourself the best chance for a healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby, you should schedule a visit with your physician for a pre-pregnancy checkup. Your practitioner will review your personal and family medical history, your present health, your lifestyle habits, and any medications or supplements you're taking, as some can be unsafe during pregnancy. Your practitioner will likely discuss diet, weight, exercise, any unhealthy habits you may have (such as smoking, drinking, and taking drugs), recommend a multivitamin (often a prenatal vitamin with folic acid to prevent birth defects), and make sure you're up to date on your immunizations, all of which can affect your health and the health of a potential baby.
Women with chronic health conditions such as high blood pressure, thyroid disease, diabetes, epilepsy, heart disease or lupus will need to have these conditions carefully managed. If you are of higher-than-recommended weight, your physician may want to discuss a weight loss plan before you try to become pregnant. Overweight mothers face an increased risk of high blood pressure, gestational diabetes, oversized babies and cesarean section.
One way to have the best possible pregnancy and birthing process is to plan for it ahead of time. You should begin establishing a relationship with an OB/GYN, certified nurse midwife and/or related healthcare professional as early as possible, and begin discussing your preferred birthing experience. Various options include water birth, natural childbirth, cesarean section (c-section) and medicated childbirth.
Regardless of financial situations or health insurance coverage, expectant women need to seek prenatal care. Uninsured women should contact Women’s Hospital to find out how they can begin seeing a prenatal provider. Our community is fortunate as Cone Health Women’s Hospital’s OB/GYN faculty practice works closely with OB/GYN provider practices throughout the area to offer women expectant mothers a fully-supported birthing process, with OB/GYN specialists, certified nurse midwives and other related women’s healthcare professionals on call 24/7.
Walidah Karim, CNM, is a certified nurse midwife and faculty practice OB/GYN assistant director at Cone Health Women’s Hospital. She earned a Bachelor of Science in nursing from University of Arizona in 1995, and a Master of Science in nursing with a family nurse practitioner degree from University of Arizona in 1998. She completed her nurse-midwifery education in 2004 at Frontier School of Midwifery and Family Nursing in Hyden, Ky. Walidah is board-certified by the American College of Nurse-Midwives.