While most expectant mothers take great care to avoid vices that could be harmful to an unborn child – such as drinking, smoking, drug use, etc. – there are some things that just aren’t talked about in the same breath when it comes to prenatal care. Expectant mothers often hear tips ranging from borderline (or completely) ludicrous, to those based in fact, but slightly off the mark. It turns out that the tips they aren’t hearing, might just be the most important when it comes to prenatal care, family planning, and ultimately raising a healthy child.
Here are three things to consider during your pregnancy that you probably aren’t hearing about.
Stress and Anxiety Often Cause Miscarriage or Birth Defects
Stress and anxiety raise a special set of concerns for pregnant mothers and their unborn fetuses. Eleveated levels of the stress hormone cortisol has been proven to cause a wide range of problems for mother and baby, including; increased risk of miscarriage, preeclampsia (pregnancy induced hypertension, fetal growth retardation, premature birth or postnatal developmental delays. While this knowledge is relatively new (mid-2000’s), a more recent finding shows that exposure to stress can actually alter the fetuses DNA through elevated methylation changes responsible for a healthy immune system.
Diet is Important – But Not Just in the Ways You’re Being Told
We know that a healthy diet is important to the growing fetus as well as the pregnant mother. However, ensuring that you are eating enough is only half the battle. One study has proven that eating a healthy and balanced diet that is nutritionally diverse leads to less picky eaters once your child is born. Another study, by Nature Communications is the first to show that nutritional deficiencies at or near the time of conception can contribute to a wide range of conditions later in life, from diabetes, to physical developmental disorders or even autism.
Pregnancy For Those 35 Years and Older Has Some Additional Considerations
Most healthcare professionals are quick to warn of the dangers of certain types of birth defects for women with increased risk criteria such as advanced age, a family history, positive serum screen, and an ultrasound finding. While (outside of getting pregnant younger), there is very little we can do to decrease this risk of genetic birth defects there is always the option of prenatal DNA testing in order to screen for the presence of Trisomy 21 (Down syndrome), Trisomy 18 (Edwards syndrome) and Trisomy 13 (Patau syndrome). This noninvasive prenatal blood test can be ordered by your doctor as early as week 10 of your pregnancy, and only requires a small sample of the mothers blood in order to complete the test. Your healthcare provider will have the results back within five days from the date the lab receives the sample, and you’ll have a clear answer as to whether or not any of these trisomies are present.
While pregnancy should be a joyous time in any woman’s life, it’s important to take every piece of advice you hear on the subject with a grain of salt, and research items that you and your family are truly concerned about. Much like anything else in life, there’s more than a fair share of bad information circulating, and it’s often the advice you didn’t receive that could have the most dire consequences.
Do your homework, and ensure that you and your family are ready for anything that can come your way. This might be the key differentiator in a stress-free pregnancy, as well as the labor and raising the child after.