To be forewarned is to be forearmed. That is the mantra that should be adopted by all potential patients who are engaged in our present healthcare system and especially pregnant women. Information is power and you can never have too much regarding your health. There is a trend for pregnant women to write a birth plan regarding their delivery but there should also be an action plan during the third trimester.
Listed below are questions taken from Harvard Medical School’s Family Health Guide. I strongly encourage you to become familiar with these questions because they could inevitably save your life or the life of your baby. Many of them address the warning signs of pre-eclampsia (swelling of the hands and face) and preterm labor (leaking fluid).
- Do you have adequate support at home from family or friends?
- How do you feel? Have you had any problems since your last visit?
- Have you had any vaginal bleeding or spotting?
- Have you had any pain or uterine cramping?
- Have you had any discharge or leakage of fluid from your vagina?
- Have you noticed swelling of your face or ankles?
- Have you had any problems with your vision?
- Are you getting frequent headaches?
- Have you noticed a change in the frequency or intensity of fetal movement?
- Are you planning to breast-feed or bottle-feed?
- Have you selected a pediatrician for your baby?
- Are you taking classes on labor and delivery?
- Have you made arrangements for your family’s health insurance to cover your baby when the baby is born?
- Have you purchased a special car seat to hold your baby when riding in your car?
- Have you decided on whether the baby will have a circumcision, if a boy?
- Have you talked with your doctor about the length of your stay in the hospital?
- Do you know the signs of going into labor so that you can call your doctor when labor begins? (These include uterine contractions and rupture of the membranes).
A good defense begins with a good offense. Remember, a healthy pregnancy doesn’t just happen. It takes a smart mother who knows what to do.