A positive pregnancy test would surely bring a smile to any couple. I remember when my pregnancy test strip came out positive. I was over the clouds! So, what do you do after finding out you are pregnant? Here is where your pregnancy journey begins.
Every pregnancy is precious and indeed, there is nothing more desirable for an expecting couple other than to have a safe pregnancy journey. The journey into parenthood starts even before the pregnancy itself. A well-planned pregnancy is the stepping-stone towards a blissful parenthood phase.
Those with pre-existing medical conditions are advised to consult their Obstetrician about their medication intake to make sure that the drugs are safe to use even during pregnancy. Counseling for expecting couples is also essential to outline and design a pregnancy plan including managing individual risk assessments.
Do get a scan to confirm the pregnancy. The location of the pregnancy is important. Pregnancy outside the womb is life-threatening and if diagnosed late, may be catastrophic. An early scan can also ascertain your expected delivery date.
Apart from an early viability scan as above there are some specialized scans that you may benefit from. Nuchal translucencies scan and detailed fetal anomaly scans (detail scan) performed by an accredited Maternal Fetal Medicine Specialist is extremely important, to ascertain if there are any issues, risks or abnormalities concerning your baby.
A nuchal translucency scan (NT scan) is ideally done between 11 and 14 weeks of pregnancy. It focuses on the fluid space behind the baby’s neck. Measurements taken can be used to screen for chromosomal abnormalities such as Down syndrome. Early detection of pre–eclampsia (severe complication of high blood pressure) can also be screened as well.
On the other hand, a detailed scan by an accredited Maternal Fetal Medicine Specialist is best done around 18 to 26 weeks. In some cases, that can be even later. These scans will screen the developing baby from head to toe for birth defects. Parents will feel relieved when findings are normal.
However, if abnormalities are detected, further diagnostic tests may help, such as amniocentesis which is a safe procedure in which amniotic fluid is taken from the uterus for testing. This is crucial in managing the pregnancy.
Prenatal genetic testing gives couples the opportunity to screen their unborn baby for genetic abnormality such as Down Syndrome. This test uses the mother’s blood. It is best to consult your Obstetrician to see if this test is suitable for you. Unfortunately, those who are at high risk for genetic abnormality or with an abnormal NT scan/detail scan will require a diagnostic test such as amniocentesis instead.
You may also get a 3D or 4D scan to get a sneak preview of your baby in his or her own environment. 3D images are still images, while 4D captures the baby’s movements in real time. This gives you an opportunity to bond with your unborn child!
“Is it necessary to find out if my child is abnormal?” These are some of the questions thrown at me by some parents. The antenatal and delivery plan should be customized individually for these mothers and their babies. These could involve some other expertise if required. Hence, knowing is certainly better than to remain oblivious and always be in doubt.
Being Malaysian, food is an integral part of our diversity. Everything is celebrated with food. Our parents will advise us to eat more to cater for you and your baby. Eat for two, they would say! That statement is not actually true. Eating healthy is more important than how much you eat.
Avoid caffeine, alcohol, raw meat or raw eggs. Instead, drink plenty of water; about eight to 12 cups a day. This will reduce constipation, prevent the risk of urinary tract infections and help to flush toxins from your body. Follow our Malaysia health plate – ‘suku, suku, separuh’ to keep track of your weight gain in pregnancy.
A healthy lifestyle should be practiced throughout your pregnancy. Exercise is permissible unless you have certain conditions like chronic lung or heart diseases, a risk of preterm delivery such as twin pregnancy, a shortened cervix or bleeding in pregnancy.
For those wanting to exercise, try walking, stationary cycling, modified yoga, Pilates and swimming. These are safe exercise methods. Exercise helps reduce backaches, constipation, maintain a healthy weight as well as lung and heart capacity. Overall, it improves energy levels in pregnancy and gives positive vibes for expecting mothers!
Iron supplements are essential and there are many in the market. The elemental iron content may be different, so choose wisely after checking with your Obstetrician. Also make sure all supplements are approved by Malaysia’s Ministry of Health.
Something that the pandemic taught us is that Covid-19 is never kind to a pregnant mother. But with the availability of Covid -19 vaccinations, we do see our pregnant mothers doing much better. Do get vaccinated! All vaccines including booster shots have been deemed suitable and safe for pregnant mothers.
It’s always best to decide on the place of delivery earlier. This will you give you the chance to familiarize yourself with the environment. Choose an Obstetrician whom you are comfortable with. A good doctor-patient relationship is essential for optimized care. Keep an open mind for the mode of delivery. Things may change at the last minute. Remember that your safety and the safety of your baby is of utmost importance.
Your pregnancy journey will be more memorable if you choose to breastfeed your baby. The benefits are many, for both mother and baby. It provides ideal nutrition for your baby. Breastmilk contains natural antibodies and protects the baby against some bacterial and viral infections. As for you, breastfeeding lowers your risks of breast and ovarian cancer (and can help reduce your weight after delivery!).
In brief, a safe pregnancy journey starts with a planned pregnancy, a specifically tailored antenatal care and a trusted Obstetrician so you can sail through your antenatal phase and delivery.
There is only one pretty child in this world and every mother has it – A famous Chinese proverb.
To all soon-to-be or expecting moms out there, if you are looking for tips and guides on anything pregnancy related, our experts can help support you in your pregnancy journey. Make an appointment with our Consultant Obstetrician & Gynecologist.
Columbia Asia Hospital - Seremban
MBBS (India), MOG (UKM), Fellowship in Maternal Fetal Medicine (Malaysia & India)