Between morning sickness, an ever-expanding belly, and bizarre food cravings, pregnancy can be difficult under the best circumstances. But for pregnant women who live with a chronic condition, it can be even harder. Here are three tips and related questions to ask your doctor to help ensure everything goes smoothly.
Do your homework. Before conceiving, consider the risks of your condition and ways to prevent those risks from compromising your health during pregnancy. Diet and medication can affect a growing fetus, so check with both your OB/GYN and your disease specialist about what's safe and what’s not before the pregnancy occurs.
Questions to ask your doctor: What medications are safe to take during pregnancy? Which medications, if any, should I change? What should my diet and water intake be, pre-pregnancy and beyond?
Make a game plan. Having a chronic condition while pregnant can lead to a myriad of complications, and can increase the likelihood of delivering by cesarean section. For this reason, planning is crucial for expectant parents. Pregnant women should develop a game plan with their partner and care team in the event of bed rest, a preterm delivery, or a surgical delivery. Bottom line? Hope for the best but plan for the unexpected.
Questions to ask your doctor: Where is the nearest hospital, and what is their neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) like? Which hospital is best equipped to deal with my specific condition during pregnancy, in delivery, and after birth, including breastfeeding?
Focus on what you can control. Life with a chronic condition can be tough, and it’s not always possible to control what your body does. But there are some choices than can make a medical condition worse, such as not getting enough sleep, skimping on nutrition, and smoking. What’s more, poor lifestyle choices can increase stress, which can also have a detrimental effect on your body. Try to make small changes in your lifestyle habits ditching the electronics before bed, for example, can lead to more restful sleep in order to keep yourself and your baby as safe as possible.
Questions to ask your doctor: What are a few lifestyle changes I can make that are most likely to improve my chances of a healthy pregnancy?
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