Sources: March of Dimes; Women’s Health.gov
Of course you should talk with your doctor or health care provider if you’re concerned about genetic issues, miscarriage, any medical conditions you may have, coping with labor or even becoming a parent. But don’t overlook these other factors that could have an effect on your pregnancy:
All your medications. Tell your doctor about both prescription and over-the-counter medications, plus any dietary or herbal supplements especially if you are planning a pregnancy. Discuss the need for any medication and make sure you are taking only what is necessary.
Substance Use/Abuse. Do live or work around toxic substances? Do you smoke, are subject to secondhand smoke, drink alcohol or use illegal drugs? If so, seek professional help with counseling, treatment, and other support services.
Your Vaccinations. Some are recommended before you become pregnant, during pregnancy, or right after delivery. Having the right vaccinations at the right time can help keep you healthy and help keep your baby from getting very sick or having lifelong health problems.
Stress. There’s the personal stress of events such divorce, crime, major illness or death in the family; the financial stress of poverty, losing a job or home; even the stress of chronic discrimination — African-American women in the United States are more likely to have premature and low-birthweight babies than women from other racial or ethnic groups.
Symptoms of depression. Some normal changes during and after pregnancy can cause symptoms similar to those of depression, especially in mothers of very young age. Be on the lookout for strong feelings of sadness, being overwhelmed, worthlessness, having no energy or motivation, and suicidal thoughts.
Physical/Emotional Abuse. There’s more to domestic abuse than physical violence: attempts to scare, isolate, or control you are also abusive. Seek professional help and have an escape route if you’re with persons who:
• Harm or threaten to harm you (with or without a weapon)
• Harm your children or pets, or destroy things that you care about
• Humiliate you in front of others
• Force you to have sex against your will
• Control your finances, birth control, or medications
• Decide the most basic things for you, such as what to wear
• Interfere with your seeing friends or family, working, or going to school
• Get extra angry during or after drinking alcohol or using drugs
• Blame their behavior on you, or threaten self-harm or suicide when upset with you