Whether you're pregnant with your first or your fourth child, Jeanne Faulkner says prenatal care is different each time. The author of "Common Sense Pregnancy" stopped by to give Kara Mack some helpful information.
Get more great tips from Jeanne Faulkner on her website.
Baby # 1 - This is your "tester" pregnancy and the prenatal and maternity care you have will be determined by your age, you baseline health, your healthcare provider and where you have your baby. If you're healthy, choose a midwife or a doctor who is committed to providing the lowest intervention care possible and you live in an area where you have a choice of hospitals or birth settings to deliver in, then you're more likely to have a vaginal birth. That sets you up for a healthier pregnancy next time.
Baby # 2 - Your body remembers what pregnancy is like and hopefully, doesn't throw you any curve balls. If your first pregnancy and birth went smoothly, then you've demonstrated that your body can handle pregnancy and your healthcare providers might consider you a low-risk patient. That's great because you'll receive the prenatal care you need to support your health without a lot of "just-in-case" medical tests and treatments that you probably don't need. You're older with your second pregnancy than with your first though so healthcare providers might want to place you in a higher risk category of prenatal care than they did with your first. If you had a c-section with your first baby, you're automatically in a higher risk category because C-section scars can change the way your placenta attaches to the uterus during subsequent pregnancies.
Just because a woman is a little older or had a c-section previously though, doesn't necessarily mean she has any actual complications or health problems. It just means doctors and midwives follow a standard of care that's designed to watch patients more closely. They tend to run more "just in case" tests and prescribe care that's usually more intervention based. The more interventions you have during prenatal care, the higher your chances for having a high-intervention birth or C-section. If you had a C-section with your first, your healthcare provider might lean hard on your having a second one, though most women who have had one c-section are good candidates for Vaginal Birth After Cesarean which is far less risky than another C-section. Each c-section you have increases risks for further complications.
Baby # 3, 4 or more - Your body knows what it's doing and your prenatal care provider knows you too. This could be a smooth sailing event, depending on how your subsequent pregnancies went or, it could be even more clinical and intervention oriented. Since you're definitely older, you have more stress and you're busier than ever before during this pregnancy, you'll need more support to make your own health and physical needs a priority. This can be a big challenge, especially when your partner or family figure you've got pregnancy down and don't need to be spoiled and pampered this time around.
Here's my message to partners and spouses - Pamper, spoil and do more chores and childcare duties. Pregnancy is no picnic on a woman's body, no matter if it's her first or her last. Give her a break, give her support and help her be her healthiest and happiest. When it comes time for delivery, make sure there are family members and friends available to watch younger kids and that when she gets home from the hospital, she's not expected to get right back to work, whether that's at home or in the workplace.
The bottom line for prenatal care, whether it's your first pregnancy or your last, is to get the best care for you and your individual circumstances, not one-size-fits-all care that's designed around high-risk and just-in-case scenarios you probably don't have.