When you are pregnant – especially if it’s your first baby – it’s natural to feel worried and afraid for the health of your baby.
WORDS SAMANTHA TAN
Finding out you're expecting is cause for great celebration and joy – but if you’re like most women, you’ll probably have your fair share of fears throughout the nine months your baby is growing inside of you. But while some fears may be totally warranted, there are definitely some irrational fears that freak us out more than they should. However, for the most part though, if you’re healthy, there’s no reason to freak out too much.
For most pregnant mums, delivering a baby with a birth defect is a top fear because there are so many things that could go wrong during the nine months your baby is growing. However, the likelihood of your little one actually having a defect is pretty low. Your doctor will be testing for major abnormalities such as Down syndrome, Trisomy 18 and spina bifida during your pregnancy. Also, most structural birth defects occur as early as a week or two after a missed period so the best way you can protect your baby is to ensure that your prenatal vitamins or the foods you’re eating contain plenty of folic acid. In fact, you can start taking prenatal folic acid as soon as you start trying to get pregnant. It is also important to maintain a healthy lifestyle such as cutting out alcohol, kicking your smoking habit and having a healthy balanced diet.
Prematurity is a legitimate concern, and it should be. However, worrisome as pre-term birth is, the great majority of babies are born after 37 weeks, which is considered full term.
Obesity, high blood pressure and diabetes are some of
the risk factors for prematurity, so try to maintain
a healthy weight and make sure your blood sugar
and blood pressure levels are normal.
If you are already avoiding smoking, alcohol and recreational drugs (all are linked to prematurity), getting good prenatal care and have all your necessary immunisations in place, you should have nothing to worry about. Ongoing major stress can also trigger pre-term labour, so be sure to keep yourself as stress-free as possible.
It goes without saying that pregnant mums fear that they will suffer a miscarriage and lose the foetus during the vulnerable first trimester. Feeling this way is definitely justified as since 20 per cent of all pregnancies do end in a miscarriage. This fear gets even more realistic if you’ve had experienced a previous miscarriage or even multiple miscarriages. However, if a miscarriage is going to take place, it often does so in the very early stages of your pregnancy, that is, usually in the first four or five weeks when you wouldn’t have even known that you were pregnant. After a heartbeat is detected at between six and eight weeks, your chances of losing your baby drop to 5 per cent. Mums should be comforted that if a miscarriage does happen, it usually means the pregnancy wasn’t healthy to start with and it was for the best for both mum and foetus. Here’s a piece of good news – right after a miscarriage, you are more fertile and your chances of having a second one are pretty low.
Check with your doctor about the foods you should stay away from or cut down on. Aside from major “no-nos” such as raw meats, soft cheeses, deli meats, alcohol and seafood, it is fine to eat everything else in moderation. Keep a balanced diet and when in doubt, don’t eat it. There will be other opportunities to enjoy it after your baby is born. If it does happen, do keep in mind that not all instances of food poisoning will harm your baby unless it involves Listeria, a bacteria commonly found in uncooked foods and unpasteurised cheeses. Listeria has been known to cause miscarriage, premature delivery or an infection in your baby.
The moment you feel unwell, do get yourself to a
doctor to make sure everything is fine. Also, keep
yourself well hydrated as you want to flush all the
toxins out of your body as well as prevent dehydration.
Squashing or Hurting the Foetus
Don't worry that you might suffocate your baby if you sleep on your belly or if you accidentally bump your tummy into something. Your baby is very well protected, thanks to the amniotic sac and the strong muscles of the uterus. Isn't it simply fascinating?