Reassuring, practical, and thoroughly enjoyable to read, Dr. Miriam Stoppard’s New Pregnancy and Birth Book is the ideal step-by-step guide to every aspect of pregnancy–from prenatal care and childbirth through the first few weeks of life. Containing new color photos, this revised edition is packed with vital information on the latest fertility treatments, prenatal tests, and obstetric procedures, as well as new sections that address the needs of working expectant mothers. Inside you will find
• information and guidance for both parents through each stage, including charts and checklists to assist in planning for the new arrival
• an extended month-by-month pregnancy calendar highlighting the mother’s physical and emotional changes during pregnancy and the baby’s development inside the body
• thorough information about special health concerns and common complaints
• diet, exercise, and relaxation techniques that benefit both mother and baby
• detailed photographs, drawings, and diagrams
“A ‘winner’ that can be recommended without hesitation to any parent-to-be.”
–Journal of the Institute of Health Education
|Publisher:||Random House Publishing Group|
|Product dimensions:||5.80(w) x 8.20(h) x 0.70(d)|
About the Author
Read an Excerpt
Deciding to have a baby
The professor of obstetrics at my medical school used to tell us that there was no right time to have a baby because something else always came up in a couple’s professional or domestic life. The corollary of this is that there is no wrong time to have a baby either. Paramount in the decision to have a baby, however, is that it is wanted; ideally it should also be planned. Even planning is often not as perfect as we would like nor, in my opinion, should it be. For one thing couples may not find it easy to conceive once they have made the decision, so be prepared for the best planning to go awry.
Are you healthy enough?
Every year a small number of babies are born who are not as healthy as they might be. There are many reasons why this may happen, but two of the most important are the nutrition and fitness of the mother. Although it has been shown that maternal malnutrition and lack of fitness become more common as you descend the economic scale, it’s also worth bearing in mind that eating disorders or excessive dieting may also affect your health. Try to pay attention to nutrition and lifestyle as well as your general state of health before you decide to have a baby (see p.110).
If you’re not already doing so, you can improve your health enormously by examining your diet. You may think you eat well but take a closer look. Do you skip breakfast and eat a small lunch, saving your appetite for an evening meal? Do you leave the fresh fruit for your children? Do you resort to high-calorie snacks to get you through the day? You can improve your health almost immediately by increasing your intake of fresh fruit, vegetables and high-fiber foods, and cutting out highly refined, starchy foods (see pp.106–114).
One of the B group of vitamins, folic acid helps to reduce the risk of spinal abnormalities in the fetus. Take folic acid supplements for at least three months before you start trying for a baby (400mcg per day is the recommended dose), and at least 16 weeks into your pregnancy. The supplements bought over the counter are fine for most women. Eat plenty of foods rich in folate such as dark-green leafy vegetables, bread, cereals and some nuts (but avoid peanuts). If your baby was unplanned, start taking folic acid as soon as you know you’re pregnant.
Try to get some exercise, either a sport such as tennis, swimming or jogging, an exercise program using a rowing machine or an exercise bicycle, or simply a brisk walk. Try to exercise for 30 minutes at a time at least four times a week, during which you should get slightly out of breath and sweat a bit.
Smoking, alcohol and drugs
You should take particular care to give
up “social” drugs before you conceive, including cigarettes (see p.115). Smoking is associated with infertility in women, although the effects on male fertility may be more damaging. Sperm are more at risk than eggs from the chemicals in cigarette smoke and it is believed that smoking could cause damage to chromosomes in the cells of smokers.
The risks of smoking to the unborn baby are well documented. It is now known that passive smoking can be as harmful as smoking itself; a woman living or working with people who smoke inhales a lot of nicotine and tars from the cigarette smoke in the air around her.
There is research that suggests that alcohol is also riskier at the time of conception and during the early weeks than was previously thought. Alcohol is increasingly being linked to certain birth defects and in severe cases to a syndrome producing physical and mental abnormalities (see p.116). To be on the safe side, avoid drinking alcohol if you are trying for a baby.
It is also risky to take recreational drugs in pregnancy. Cannabis is known to interfere with the normal production of male sperm and increases the risk of conceiving a baby with chromosomal abnormalities. It is also thought that LSD can cause birth defects if it is taken around the time of conception.
Age of the parents
This will always be a factor for you to consider when deciding to have a baby but not the negative one that you might think. Considerations of personal freedom and career moves are causing more and more women to wait until they are over 30 to become pregnant but many still fear that they may be leaving it too late. This is because they may have heard that the longer they wait the greater is the chance of having a difficult pregnancy or even, possibly, a child with an abnormality. However, although the risk of having a Down syndrome baby, for example, increases with the age of the mother (see p.79), carefully documented case studies show that it is not physically dangerous to the woman herself if she defers pregnancy until she is past her twenties.
The risks undoubtedly do increase with age but every decision to have a child is unique and the age of the parents is only one factor, and a very small one, in weighing the risks and benefits. The age of the father relates more to infertility than to a risk factor. Many other factors affect the risk factor ratio in each woman’s case. Of course, what these statistics do is to lump all mothers over the age of, say, 30 together, regardless of their health or financial background, whereas an important factor in maternal risk is the mother’s socioeconomic situation. The complications during pregnancy and delivery for this group are not related to age but to other factors such as malnutrition; an individual pregnant woman will only need special care if she is poorly nourished, regardless of her age (see p.12).
Bear in mind, too, that although physically a woman may be better suited to childbirth in her early twenties, she may not be ready to be a parent emotionally. When she is younger a woman may be too involved with her career to have children, or she may not have met the right person to be the father of her children.
Although fertility does diminish with age (see p. 22), an important factor to consider is that the statistics show that the odds are greatly in favor of you having a successful pregnancy at almost any age provided you are healthy. Many studies have been done on normal pregnancies in women past the age of 50 and all of them have concluded that the general health of the mother is much more important than age alone as a factor in predicting how the pregnancy will turn out – so remember if your health is good, the decision to have a baby should not be abandoned on account of age alone.
Preexisting medical conditions
Some preexisting medical conditions – including diabetes, heart disease and rhesus incompatibility (see pp.154–161) – may cause problems in pregnancy. Even so, with careful prenatal care you may still be able to give birth normally. If you have a long-standing medical condition or if you are taking any medication regularly, you need to discuss the possibility of a pregnancy with your doctor. If you’re having long-term drug treatment – for example, for epilepsy – talk to your doctor before trying for a baby.
Effects on lifestyle
A survey done in America showed that the number of women who considered motherhood the most pleasurable aspect of being a woman had dropped in the last 20 years, while the number of women who opted for work as being more fulfilling had risen. As women in the West have re-examined their status in society and decided to be more self-determined than they have been in the past, aided by reliable contraceptive methods, fewer are taking the role of wife and mother as the automatic choice in life. The investment of more time in the pursuit of a career also means that more women are opting to have families later in their lives.
For most women, having children is now a matter of choice and planning, and their decision to be a mother is a well considered one, although unfortunately too many teenage girls still become pregnant by accident. Nowadays, few people would subscribe to the unquestioned idealization of the act of childbearing that once made society view it as essential to women’s fulfillment.
Some women, as they get older and fear that their fertility is diminishing, regard single parenthood as a possible choice, even though they may not have found a partner with whom they wish to settle down. Women who make this decision and conceive a baby are usually remarkable for their single-mindedness and are quite prepared to face the implications of being a single mother. To them motherhood is a chosen state, not one imposed by chance.
Table of Contents
1 Deciding to have a baby 12
2 Finding out you are pregnant 24
3 Pregnancy calendar 32
4 Choices in childbirth 52
5 Prenatal care 68
6 The growing baby 80
7 Physical changes 90
8 Emotional changes 100
9 Health and nutrition 106
10 Exercise 118
11 Looking good 132
12 Rest and relaxation 138
13 Common complaints 146
14 Special-care pregnancies 154
15 Preparing for the birth 162
16 Labor and birth 170
17 Complications 202
18 The first days 212
19 Getting back to normal 230
A birth plan 240
Useful addresses 244
Further reading 247
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I was skeptical of this book, so I got it from a local library. I was surprised to find that it was a wealth of information and very easy to read and understand. The illustrations are great at helping you understand your developing baby. It doesn't cover every week, but it covers the major weeks such as 6-10, 12 ,16, 20, 24, 26, 30..... It gives information on what is happening with your baby and some good recommendations on how to deal with common symptoms you may be facing. The book also has sections on nutrition, delivery, and after baby comes home just to name a few. A great resource for moms to be!