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OB Gyn Associates of Iowa City and Coralville

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5 Ways to Prevent a High-Risk Pregnancy

1. Keep out the bad | Avoid alcohol, tobacco, and illicit drugs

Drinking Alcohol during your pregnancy can cause your child to be born into a world of lifelong fetal alcohol syndrome disorders (FASD). Children with FASD are affected by any combination of physical deformities as well as behavioral and learning problems. Despite what you may read or see on social media, there is no amount of alcohol which has been proven safe for a woman to drink during pregnancy.
Smoking and using smokeless tobacco during pregnancy passes nicotine, carbon monoxide, and other harmful chemicals on to your baby. This can cause many problems for the early development of your unborn baby. It increases the risk of birth defects, premature birth, and unhealthy birth weight. Smoking can also affect babies during the fourth trimester and throughout their early childhood. Smoking during and after pregnancy has been linked to children developing diseases such as asthma and obesity. There is also a higher risk that your child dies from sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).
Using illegal drugs or abusing prescription drugs may cause underweight babies, birth defects, or withdrawal symptoms after birth. If you have been administered prescription medication by either your OB-GYN or primary care provider, be sure to carefully follow their instructions. It is very dangerous to take someone else’s medicine or to take more medicine than has been prescribed. Misusing opioid painkillers can cause birth defects, withdrawal symptoms in the baby, and loss of the baby.
While marijuana has been either legalized for recreational use, medical use, or decriminalized in many parts of the United States, the effects of marijuana use during pregnancy have not been fully studied. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists advises doctors to encourage users to quit—even in cases when weed is being used for medicinal purposes—while pregnant and breastfeeding.

2. Put in the good | Eat a varied, nutrient-dense diet and take a prenatal vitamin

A pregnant woman’s body needs calcium, folic acid, iron, and protein in greater quantities than a woman who is not expecting. Milk, yogurt, and other dairy products as well as their nut-based alternatives are great sources of both calcium and protein. Leafy greens like kale and spinach are also rich in these essential nutrients. Too little iron during pregnancy can cause anemia, resulting in feeling fatigued and faint. A supplement like a prenatal vitamin is your best source for folic acid and iron, as pregnant women need much more of this than a woman who is not expecting.

3. Get a genetic screening | Genetic counseling before conception can tell you your risks and options.

Genetic screening or genetic testing, is a process that allows doctors to analyze your risks of passing on various diseases such as cancer, as well as other genetic disorders. It also screens for common chromosome disorders including Trisomy 13, 18, and 21. This can be done easily at our office and, despite the myth, is well-covered by most insurance companies.

4. Treat pre-existing conditions | Seek effective treatment for any physical or mental illness

You can’t begin to take care of another until you take care of yourself. If you and your partner are thinking about having a baby, but you’re struggling with any physical or mental illness, reach out to your doctor for the best advice on how to proceed.

5. Manage your weight | Discuss a health plan with your OB-GYN

The body mass index (BMI) is a tool of measurement used to calculate percentages of body fat. It is based on height and weight. To find out your BMI, you can use this online calculator.
Women with a BMI of 18.5–24.9 are considered to be of normal or healthy weight. Women who are overweight or obese have a BMI of 25-30 or higher. Overweight or obese women have a higher risk of developing gestational diabetes and high blood pressure during pregnancy. It also increases the chances of a cesarean, or c-section delivery. Additionally, women who are underweight before pregnancy need to gain a reasonable amount of weight during pregnancy. Without the extra weight, a baby of an underweight (low BMI) mother has a higher risk of being born early (premature birth) or smaller than expected.
If you’d like more information about nutrition and maintaining healthy weight during pregnancy, talk to your OB-GYN about putting together a health plan.