Adam Wolfberg—Ovia Health’s Chief Medical Officer and OB/GYN with years of experience has seen it all, so naturally, he was the perfect guest for our first Ovia webinar. Adam’s 11 tips for your healthiest pregnancy outline important points to keep in mind starting from conception to due date. Hundreds of Ovia users submitted their questions, adding to the information covered in the webinar. Your pregnancy questions may have already been answered—watch the webinar here.
Tip #1: Take the Ovia Self-Assessment to see if you might have a high-risk pregnancy
Most women have low-risk pregnancies—but anticipating any possible risk factors puts you in the best position for a healthy pregnancy. After all, knowledge is power! The Ovia Self-Assessment can help identify risk factors, such as complications in a previous pregnancy, medical problems, recent surgeries, or inherited conditions. Understanding your level of risk can help you take the right precautions to move toward a healthy pregnancy.
Tips #2 &3: Plan ahead for a vaginal delivery
Most of the time, it’s optimal to have a vaginal delivery instead of a cesarean. This is because the risks to the mother are lower and the recovery is much faster. Check to see whether your hospital has a low rate of cesarean sections. You’ll want to choose a hospital with a low percentage of cesareans for first time mothers. If you haven’t thought of a midwife instead of a doctor—that may be a good option as well. If you’re low-risk, a midwife can help reduce your chance of a cesarean section.
Tip #4: Don’t drink alcohol
Some people might say that a little bit of alcohol is okay, or perhaps you’ve seen a friend have a bit while pregnant. Adam’s tip—no amount of alcohol is fine to drink while pregnant. We just don’t know how much is too much, or which trimester is more susceptible to alcohol’s negative effects, but we do know the high risks that alcohol has on a baby’s health.
Tip #5: Take your prenatal vitamins
Get a prescription for prenatal vitamins from your doctor—they’re covered by insurance. If you think you might get pregnant, or you’re trying to get pregnant, go ahead and start taking your prenatal vitamins. They contain folic acid, which is important for a healthy pregnancy, especially in the first trimester. These vitamins will be helpful throughout your whole pregnancy, so take them for all 9 months—especially if you’re planning on breastfeeding.
Tip #6: Make sure your cervix is measured when you’re getting your ultrasound at 18-22 weeks
This is the ultrasound when your healthcare provider will make sure that your fetus is normally formed, looking at the spine, hands, and feet. Measuring your cervix at this time is important because if your cervix is short, your healthcare provider can give you a prescription for a hormone that will help make sure you have a timely delivery. Advocate for yourself—remember to check in with your doctor to make sure that they’ve taken a measurement.
Tip #7: Stick to your target weight gain
You’re not eating for two—the amount of weight you should gain depends on how much you weigh when you get pregnant. If you’re very thin, you may want to gain more weight than someone who is overweight when they get pregnant. Talk to your doctor about how much weight you should gain, and make sure to monitor it week by week, trimester by trimester, to ensure a healthy weight gain. Track your weight gain in the Ovia pregnancy app to make it easy to stick to your target weight every week.
Tip #8: Take note of your mood
Depression is a serious condition that affects many women during and after pregnancy. It’s very common, so don’t feel that it’s not something to pay attention to. Keep track of your mood, take notes in the Ovia pregnancy app, and be open with your healthcare provider about how you’re feeling. If you’re feeling depressed or anxious, be sure to bring it up at your next visit or call your doctor.
Tip #9: Plan to breastfeed
Almost everyone can breastfeed successfully, although it doesn’t always come naturally. Breastfeeding can be difficult—after all, babies have to learn how to breastfeed. Although it may not be easy, it is the best choice for your baby’s nutritional needs and the best option for your health and recovery. Talk to your doctor and a lactation consultant. There are many opportunities to get help and resources for breastfeeding if the process is less smooth than you’d hoped for. Don’t give up—get help.
Tip #10: Talk to your partner about childcare
Planning for childcare in advance can help save you from worrying about it after birth. Going from being a couple to being a family, or a parent of one to a parent of many can be a big change. Talking about childcare early and making a plan can help your transition back to work immensely.
Tip #11: Think about birth control after pregnancy
Spacing of children is important both for the mother’s and the children’s health. Make a plan to go directly from delivery onto a birth control method that works well for you and your family. Although women who breastfeed are less likely to conceive during that time, that’s not a reliable birth control method. Think about birth control right away—two weeks after delivery is a great time to get on a birth control method. You can take birth control while breastfeeding—talk to your doctor about a pill or an IUD.
You can hear all the questions and answers we talked about during the webinar here.