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Thinking About Pregnancy?
If you have questions, we have the answers. At Rapides Women’s and Children’s Hospital, we deliver more. Since 1990, RW&CH has delivered more than 40,000 children to Central Louisiana families. But healthy babies really begin with you.
So before you decide to become a parent, let us help. We can help you find a local obstetrician for your prenatal care. We offer a variety of childbirth and parenting classes each month, access to fertility specialists and genetic counseling through the Rapides Specialty Clinic located at RW&CH. Plus, we have a great group of experienced and educated nurses, nurse practitioners and physicians who can answer all of your baby questions. We’re waiting. Just give us a call.
If you smoke or use illegal drugs, it is very important to quit before trying to become pregnant. Your doctor can help you find ways to quit.
Smoking is associated with increased risks of miscarriage, bleeding, pelvic pain, congenital heart defects, premature birth, low birth weight, sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), lower IQ, and slower physical growth.
Marijuana and other illegal drugs can increase the risk of miscarriage, premature birth, birth defects, and infant drug withdrawal. If you drink alcohol, you should also limit or avoid drinking while trying to become pregnant. Alcohol can cause fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS), which can lead to mental slowness, poor growth, and physical defects.
You should limit your caffeine intake while trying to become pregnant, because drinking more than two cups of coffee, tea, or caffeinated soda a day may decrease your chances of getting pregnant.
What’s so great about breastfeeding? Breast milk is easy on baby’s tummy AND it provides enzymes, antibodies and other factors that boost immunity. Studies show that babies who are breastfed are less likely to develop ear infections, diarrhea, inflammatory bowel disease, respiratory infections, meningitis, allergies, asthma, sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), and more.
Plus, there are benefits for mom, too.
Benefits for Mom
Women who breastfeed return to their pre-pregnancy weight faster than moms who don’t breastfeed. Nursing burns about 500 calories per day; this is even more than pregnancy, which demands an extra 300 calories daily. Breastfeeding also stimulates the uterus to contract back to its normal size, and reduces bleeding. There are long-term benefits as well. The risks of breast, uterine, and ovarian cancers, as well as hip fractures and osteoporosis are lower among women who breastfeed their babies.
Financially speaking, breast milk is free. The cost of formula and supplies can add up to $1,000 per year. Preparing formula also takes time which is precious in those early days. Breast milk is always available and requires no preparation. Formula, on the other hand, needs to be bought, made, put into bottles, warmed up, and properly stored.
How do I get started?
Rapides Women’s and Children’s Hospital offers a free One Day Breastfeeding Class taught by trained lactation educators, on the first Saturday of each month. In addition, the hospital also provides a Breastfeeding Center for moms who have questions while they are in the hospital and after they go home. Our experts visit each new mother to answer questions and assist as needed. Contact the Breastfeeding Center, at (318) 769-7229 for questions and community resources.
Prenatal Healthcare Visit
Before trying to get pregnant, schedule a preconception visit with your doctor. During this visit, you can discuss your health and get advice on how to prepare your body for pregnancy.
If you have health problems such as diabetes or high blood pressure, your doctor can prescribe medicines or lifestyle changes to help get these problems under control before pregnancy.
Also, you will want to tell your doctor about all the medicines you take. He can determine whether they are safe to take while trying to get pregnant or during pregnancy. Do not stop taking prescription medicines without talking to your doctor.
During the preconception visit, your doctor may do tests to determine whether you have had rubella or a rubella vaccination, any sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and/or hepatitis, or have other health problems, such as anemia. If you have not had all of your immunizations, especially rubella, you should have that done at least three months before getting pregnant.
Finally, if serious genetic diseases run in your family, such as cystic fibrosis or sickle cell anemia, talk to your doctor about whether you or your partner should have genetic testing before becoming pregnant.
What is a full-term pregnancy?
From the time of conception, your baby will grow and change inside your uterus until he or she is born. Each trimester has a unique set of developmental milestones. In the first trimester, your baby will grow from a fertilized egg into a moving fetus with eyes, ears, and functioning organs. In the second trimester, your baby’s features develop and you may be able to feel your baby move. In the third trimester, your baby will grow rapidly in preparation for birth.
During your first prenatal care visit, your doctor will calculate your estimated due date, which will be approximately 40 weeks from the first day of your last menstrual period. Even though your baby is not conceived until about two weeks after you start your period, week one of your pregnancy is considered to be the week of your menstrual period.
Your first trimester lasts until the end of week 12, the second trimester lasts from week 13 to the end of week 26, and your third trimester is from week 27 until birth. Most babies are born between weeks 38 and 42.
First Trimester (Weeks 0-12)
Second Trimester (Weeks 13-26)
Third Trimester (Weeks 27-40)
How much weight should I gain?
On average, a healthy amount of weight gain during pregnancy is 22-35 pounds for normal weight women. This is usually accomplished by gaining 4-6 pounds during the first trimester, and about two-thirds to one pound a week during the second and third trimesters.
Where does this weight come from? According to the Nemours Foundation, this is how a 30-pound pregnancy weight gain is typically distributed:
- 7.5 pounds: your baby’s weight
- 1.5 pounds: the placenta
- 2 pounds: enlargement of your uterus
- 2 pounds: amniotic fluid surrounding your baby
- 2 pounds: breast enlargement
- 4 pounds: your extra blood
- 2-7 pounds: your extra stored nutrients
- 1-4 pounds: your extra body fluids