Unfortunately, not all birth injuries can be prevented. However, mothers who care for themselves and their baby can often avoid major complications, especially if skilled, competent medical personnel are on hand to provide assistance.
Here is a look at steps expectant mothers can take during pregnancy to secure their children’s safety before they enter the world.
How to reduce the risk of birth complications
It is not always possible to prevent every type of complication from arising. However, there are a number of ways in which you can reduce the chances of problems from arising, such as:
- Get enough sleep – Being well-rested is one of the best ways to prevent a whole host of different birth complications.
- Eat a healthy and well balanced diet – Foods rich in protein and calcium are highly recommended for pregnant women, as well as supplements with at least 400 to 800 mcg of folic acid. Keep in mind that pregnant women should avoid consuming fish, especially ones that are high in mercury (i.e., shark, tuna, mackerel, sword fish, etc.).
- Avoid teratogenic substances – These include alcohol, drugs, tobacco and other substances and chemicals that may be harmful to your unborn child.
- Monitor your weight during pregnancy – Despite popular belief, it is not recommended that pregnant women literally consume an amount of food necessary to feed two people. Specifically, you should typically gain between 25 to 35 pounds during pregnancy to support your child’s health and development. There are a number of exceptions to this healthy weight gain range, and each woman’s weight gain may vary.
- Manage your diabetes – If you were diagnosed with diabetes before pregnancy, or if you develop gestational diabetes, it is crucial that you work with your health care professionals to help monitor and control your blood sugar levels.
- Speak with your doctor before becoming pregnant – This is especially important if you have diabetes or struggle with weight management, as these are often precursors to a multitude of different birth complications. Your doctor may refer you to a nutritionist to help you make positive changes in your lifestyle and eating habits so that you maximize your chances of having a complication, and injury-free, delivery.
- Seek regular prenatal care – Regular check-ups with your obstetrician will help prevent complications.
- Determine whether your medical professional is qualified to handle your birth – Ask your doula, midwife, nurse, doctor or other medical professionals questions about how they address birth complications. Also find out whether they are skilled and experienced in handling birthing complications, should they arise during labor and/or delivery.
- Remain informed and ask questions – Do not allow medical professionals to keep you in the dark. Remain informed at each stage of your pregnancy, labor and delivery. Also, do not hesitate to ask your physician and medical staff any questions regarding your care and about your condition. Since you and your child’s lives are in their hands, you have the absolute right to ask questions and point out your concerns.
- Plan early on in your pregnancy – It is important to find qualified heath care practitioners to care for you during your pregnancy. Moreover, if you are 35 years old or more, it may be helpful to seek the care of a perinatologist, who has received more medical training than an obstetrician and may be in a better position to provide more thorough and proactive prenatal care. Plan ahead. Make sure to educate yourself as to the risks associated with labor and delivery and be prepared to make decisions if emergency situations arise.
- Make sure your child is monitored – Be sure that your doctor monitors your child during the labor and delivery process – specifically, the use of electronic fetal monitoring (EFM) is important to keep track of a pregnant woman’s progress during labor and delivery as well as how her child is tolerating the labor process. You and your doctors should be keeping an eye on the monitor in order to watch out for signs of fetal distress. Catching fetal distress early and taking proactive measures to address the situation is what often spares a child of injuries associated with a variety of birth injuries.
- Write everything down – Keep a journal during your pregnancy and do not hesitate to speak up – keep track of things as they progress in your pregnancy and be sure to mention them to your doctor. You can also bring your journal with you to your doctor visits and take notes so that you do not forget any important details.
- Weigh the options – Ask your medical practitioner if you should have a cesarean section (c-section). While there are certain risks associated with having a cesarean section, it may be the safest way to deliver your child.
- Take prenatal vitamins – Take your prenatal supplements and follow a healthy diet. Ask your obstetric specialist how to remain as active as possible during your pregnancy. Also, speak with your doctor first before taking any over-the-counter or prescription medications.
- Preparation for delivery is key – It is important to pre-register with a hospital as well as take a tour of the maternal ward well before giving birth. This way, you can analyze whether the hospital is clean, well-organized and seemingly prepared to handle your labor and delivery. Mothers-to-be should also be tracking fetal movement, especially during the latter portion of the third trimester – the goal is to feel 10 or more movements from an unborn child within a two hour time period) and also, to speak with their doctor immediately should they notice spotting or some other complication. The timely evaluation of potential fetal problems may prevent head, neck and brain trauma.
- Exercise regularly – Although it is important to speak with your doctor regarding whether you should exercise during pregnancy, keeping active is generally an ideal way to prevent yourself from gaining excess weight and to assist in managing your blood sugar levels. Therefore, you also reduce your risk of facing certain complications during pregnancy, labor and delivery when you remain active.
- Manage your hypertension – Whether you were diagnosed with chronic or gestational hypertension, it is important to manage your blood pressure during pregnancy, as these conditions can lead to serious and sometimes fatal complications.
- Speak up – Be sure to tell your doctor as well as your medical team what your birthing preferences are, and also ask questions if something arises that you are not familiar with, i.e. fetal distress, abnormal heart monitor readings, etc.
Mothers do everything they can to protect their children, even before they are born. If you took these precautions but medical negligence caused serious injury to you or your child, it’s important to understand your legal rights. Please call Stern Law, PLLC at (800) 462-5772 for a free consultation.