July 5, 2024

How to have a healthy pregnancy from the early stages to birth.

Congratulations on your baby-to-be! After those early days of excitement upon pregnancy confirmation, you’re starting to navigate the road ahead — from the first trimester to labor and delivery. Unsure about how to have a healthy pregnancy, what red flags to watch for or how to make a birth plan? We’ve rounded up the best My Vanderbilt Health advice on having a healthy pregnancy to help guide you through this exciting time.

Early pregnancy

For parents-to-be, early pregnancy can be both a time for celebration and also a bit of confusion as you navigate the care you and your growing baby require. Ease any early pregnancy jitters by focusing on the things you can control. Here are some pregnancy tips for first-time moms:

Pregnancy complications and high-risk pregnancies

The hope is for every pregnancy to go smoothly, but sometimes issues and concerns crop up. Learn how to watch for red flags and take action or seek resources for a healthy pregnancy when necessary.

  • Seek relief for extreme morning sickness, hyperemesis gravidarum. Your health care provider can offer solutions for balancing electrolytes and keeping you hydrated.
  • Get assessed for hypertension, and learn your risk factors for developing preeclampsia so you can take preventive steps.
  • Know your risk for developing gestational diabetes, and follow your health care provider’s recommendations regarding diet and exercise.
  • Learn what to expect if your pregnancy is considered high-risk — whether due to maternal or fetal risk factors — and meet the members of your extended high-risk care team.
  • You might need to visit a fetal center if screenings reveal a health concern or the need for more advanced screening than what you might receive at your regular clinic. Learn what it means to be referred to a fetal center.
  • Get the support you need if you’ve had a miscarriage by finding answers to common questions and accessing grief and counseling resources.

Birth plans and other prep

Pregnancy offers a time to plan and prep for labor and delivery. Whether you want a low-intervention birth or are expecting a C-section, these tips can help you prepare for the big event.

  • Make a birth plan that includes your preferences for pain management, who will be on your labor support team and any special equipment or requests. Plus, consider contingency choices for when things don’t go as predicted. Follow our My Vanderbilt Health list to include everything you need.
  • Learn about midwifery, and decide if you’d like to enlist the help of a midwife who can support you through pregnancy, labor and delivery. Here are the benefits.
  • Reduce your chances of having a C-section, if you want to avoid one, by considering these five facts. If you are having a C-section, learn about family-centered options. And find out what to expect after your procedure — and what having a C-section now means for future births.
  • Prepare for the differences in having multiples if you’re expecting more than one little one to join your family.
  • If your pregnancy has been deemed high-risk, know that a birth plan is still an option!

Labor and delivery

Eventually, it will be time for your baby to enter the world. The labor and delivery process can seem daunting, especially since there are often a lot of unknowns. Plus, things don’t always go according to plan. But these tips can help you prepare and be ready for any surprises.

  • Know the difference between Braxton Hicks contractions and those that signal you’re in labor.
  • Prepare for those early hours of labor with our guide to staying comfortable at home before you enter active labor.
  • Find out how a breech baby may affect your birth plan and what to expect with an external cephalic version to get your baby to turn.
  • You may be wondering about your options when it comes to pain management — or maybe you’re hoping to deliver without pain medication. Here’s what you need to know about your available choices.

Postpartum and recovery

Your baby is here — but your postpartum recovery (what some call the “fourth trimester”) has just begun. Here’s what you need to know.

  • It’s normal for you to not feel quite yourself emotionally after giving birth — but it’s important to spot the warning signs of postpartum depression.
  •  Learn about the risk factors and treatment options for postpartum incontinence.
  • “I tell people that if they’re not using a birth control method, it’s possible to become pregnant very soon after having a baby,” said Dr. Elise Boos, an OB-GYN with Vanderbilt Health. Read up on your options for postpartum birth control.

Expert care for you and your baby

Each pregnancy and delivery is unique and yours should be too. Learn more about how Vanderbilt Health’s obstetrics and maternal fetal medicine teams bring together nationally ranked expertise and personalized care from your first prenatal visit to delivery and beyond.

To learn more, call 615-343-5700 or schedule an appointment online.

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