The early weeks of pregnancy are fragile—and confusing. Here, the answers to your questions.
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Rules to live by
Always . .
1 Call your caregiver if you experience vaginal bleeding, sudden or severe pain or swelling, blurred vision, severe headaches or rapid weight gain.
2 Get good prenatal care. Be sure to tell your doctor or midwife about any pre-existing conditions, such as diabetes or thyroid disease.
3 Take a daily prenatal multivitamin with at least 400 micrograms of folic acid.
4 Brush, floss and see your dentist for a checkup early in pregnancy. Gum infections raise the risk of preterm delivery.
5 Seek help if you’re being abused emotionally or physically; abuse can lead to depression, anxiety, miscarriage, preterm birth and fetal death.
Never . . .
1 Use alcohol, tobacco or illegal drugs, and don’t take supplements or medications of any kind with-out your doctor’s OK.
2 Ignore an infection. Even a minor one, such as a UTI, can lead to preterm birth if untreated.
3 Change the cat’s litter box without wearing gloves. Toxoplasmosis, which can cause vision and learning problems in your baby, is a potential risk.
4 Eat raw or undercooked meats and fish; unpasteurized cheeses or other dairy products; unheated deli meats and hot dogs; or high-mercury fish.
5 Forgo wearing a seat belt. They’re proven to protect against miscarriage, early labor and fetal death.
The perils of perfectionism Perfectionism causes stress and anxiety. When you’re stressed, your body pumps up production of the hormone cortisol, excessive amounts of which may play a part in preterm labor. Later, perfectionistic parenting can boost your child’s risk of developing anxiety, depression, self-doubt, eating disorders and low self- esteem, says Alice Domar, Ph.D., who has studied the problem as it relates to pregnancy.
Notch down perfectionist thinking by looking at the black- and-white thoughts and judgments that float around in your mind and try to reframe them so they’re less rigid and judgmental. If perfectionist thoughts persist, consider meeting with a prenatal therapist, Domar suggests. True perfectionists have an elevated risk of postpartum depression, so it makes sense to get it under control before your baby arrives. thinking, make small but effective changes: set aside bits of “couple time,” work exercise into your regular daily activities and try one (healthy) new food a day.