Chapter 9

Prenatal Care

Emotions During Pregnancy

All pregnant women have mixed feelings about being pregnant. They wonder about how their lives will change after their babies arrival. They might think they have made a mistake. They may even fear that they will never lose all the weight they are getting. They may feel unattractive because they see themselves getting bigger.

Men have wonders about the future, also. tThey may worry about finances. They may feel inadequate as a father. They are both fascinated and fearful about how their lives will change.

All these feelings are normal. Instead of feeling guilty about them, the parents-to-be should talk about them with each other.

Dangers to the Fetus

A fetus is totally dependent on the woman who carries it. If she is affected, then the fetus is affected. Tobacco, alcohol, caffeine, drugs, certain diseases, medications, and radiation can all negatively and severely affect the fetus.

Tobacco

Tobacco can be hazardous because it deprives the fetus of the oxygen it needs. This can cause the fetus to be born prematurely or with low birth weight. Even second-hand-smoke can cause problems, so BOTH parents-to-be should stop smoking during the women's pregnancy. Such smoke can also cause problems for the baby after it is born.

Alcohol

Any alcohol (liquor, beer, wine, mixed drinks, etc.) can and will cause harm to the fetus. Most babies born to mothers who drank while pregnant are born with fetal alcohol syndrome. This may cause them to have a very small head, improperly formed nose or mouth, sight and hearing problems, heart and kidney defects, poor coordination, or they may be mental challenged. Some may be overreactive or having learning or behavior problems. These effects are present throughout a child's life. Other babies may show some but not all signs of FAS. They may be small, restless, growing slowly, or having below normal intelligence. Even a small amount of alcohol can be to much. It can help if BOTH partners stop using alcohol.

Caffeine

Caffeine is a drug that is in coffee, tea, chocolate, and some sodas. Pregnant women may want to remove caffeine from their diet, or at least reduce the regular amount they consume, especially during the first trimester.

Medications & Drugs

Any medication that a woman takes will be passed on to the fetus she carries. Some are dangerous only in the early stages of pregnancy, while others are dangerous throughout pregnancy, some can even be harmful later on in pregnancy. Any medication use during pregnancy can lead to miscarriage, early labor and premature birth, low birth weight, infant addiction and withdrawal, and infant death.


Over-the Counter and Prescription Medications

Every year the list of over-the-counter medications that are harmful to a fetus grows longer. About 62,000 non-prescription medications must have a label that says, "As with any drug, if you are pregnant or nursing a baby, seek the advice of a health professional before using this product."

Prescription drugs are usually only prescribed if the woman needs it to remain healthy. Some prescription drugs can severely harm the fetus. Amphetamines, barbiturates, and the like can be especially dangerous. NO ONE, especially a pregnant woman, should EVER use medication that is prescribed for someone else.