2) gestational diabetes Developing diabetes during pregnancy can lead to a large, difficult-to-deliver baby, increasing the risk of delivery complications and a C-section. Such rising rates go hand in hand with Americans’ increasing tendency to be overweight. Starting pregnancy at a healthy weight and gaining no more than the recommended 25 to 35 (see “How Much Weight Should You Gain?” on pg. 148) can help lower your risk for gestational diabetes. And a new study in the American Journal of Epidemiology found that women who exercised before and during pregnancy had a 70 percent lower risk of gestational diabetes.
3) cesarean section Choose a hospital and/or obstetrician with a low Cesarean-section rate (15 percent or less); consider a midwife-assisted delivery; wati until you are in active labor before going to the hospital; work with a trained doula; get good prenatal care and avoid excess weight gain during pregnancy. Also, keep hydrated and change positions often during labor so you can stay comfortable and energized in case labor is long.
STAY EMOTIONALLY HEALTHY
For some women, hormone shifts, relationship problems, a negative body image, financial pressures and other reasons make pregnancy stressful. Be sure to watch out for the following:
depression If you’re feeling blue, check in with your doctor. During pregnancy, depression is treated with talk therapy or, if that fails and the depression is serious, with medications such as Zoloft and Prozac, according to Petra M. Casey, M.D., an obstetrician at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. “These drugs should be used with caution, but depression has major risks also—even suicide—so we must balance that with the potential risks of antidepressants,” Casey says.
stress Although some studies suggest that sky-high stress levels contribute to preterm delivery, low birth weight, and behavior and learning problems in toddlers, other research fails to show a link. “We don’t have any clear answers on this issue,” says Kimberly A. Yonkers, M.D., an associate professor in the psychiatry department at Yale School of Medicine in New Haven, Conn. In any case, it’s wise to reduce stress as much as possible during pregnancy, particularly if it causes you to lose sleep, eat poorly or reach for cigarettes or alcohol for relief. If something is causing you stress, make a change if you can, since stress can, at the very least, contribute to fatigue, headaches and backaches.