It is natural for expectant parents to worry about the safety of their babies, even before their babies are born. Birth can be a violent process, and sometimes babies and mothers are injured during delivery. Is there anything that parents can do to help protect their babies from birth injuries?
The primary step that parents can take to protect their unborn children is to ensure that the mother has excellent pre-natal care throughout her pregnancy. In Ontario, you often have an option as to who will provide your pre-natal care. Some general practitioners and family doctors also deliver babies and provide pre-natal care. Not all of them do, however, so ask your family doctor what services they provide. If you prefer, your doctor can refer you to an obstetrician or a midwife. Your decision will be based on your personal preference, but any of these qualified health-care providers should be able to provide you with the necessary pre-natal care.
Pre-natal care generally includes the following:
- At least two ultrasounds, with the possibility of more if your health-care provider has any concerns about your baby’s development or size
- Blood tests for sexually transmitted infections that may affect the baby
- Blood tests to ensure that the mother has immunity against certain infections, which may affect the baby if the mother becomes ill
- Monitoring the mother for weight gain and to ensure that the baby is growing at a satisfactory rate
- Monitoring the mother’s blood pressure to ensure that pregnancy complications such as preeclampsia do not develop
- Screening the mother for gestational diabetes
- Screening the mother for Group B Strep, common bacteria found in the body that can be harmful to the baby if present during delivery.
Your health-care provider is also an excellent resource for you as an expectant parent if you have any questions about your baby’s development or things that you should be avoiding during pregnancy.
A mother who is taking good care of herself is doing everything she can to give her baby the best start in life. Eating well, drinking lots of water, and exercising are all important factors that will help to ensure that your fetus develops normally and may also prevent you from developing complications due to gestational diabetes.
Refraining from smoking, drinking and taking recreational drugs during pregnancy can protect against many problems in the developing fetus. Babies of smokers often have a lower than normal birth weight. Smaller babies may be more susceptible to injuries during delivery.
You may not be able to protect your unborn baby from every eventuality, but ensuring that you have the best pre-natal care possible is an excellent start.