Page 31 - Alaska Parent Winter 2020 Digital
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   “A baby that is deprived of carbohydrates, which are needed for adequate development, can actually grow smaller and not in a healthy way,” Devika says.
consider genetic testing
You and your partner may also wish to seek genetic counseling.
“If anything raises a red flag, then we can do genetic testing on the parents before they even conceive to see if anything that they’re concerned about is actually an issue,” Sara says.
A blood draw can determine if either of you are carriers for cystic fibrosis, spinal muscular atrophy or fragile X disorders.
of a certain age?
While it may not sound flattering, if you’ll deliver your baby in your mid-30s or older, you’re considered “advanced maternal age.” You may wish to ask for more extensive genetic testing prior to pregnancy and consult with a perinatologist during pregnancy for more detailed anatomy screening ultrasounds.
“We now have an amazing non-invasive prenatal test (NIPT), which is a
simple blood draw taken as early as 10 to 11 weeks. It screens fetal DNA for trisomy 13, 18, 21 (Down syndrome) and also includes X’s and Y’s to determine gender if desired,” says Dr. Sharla Shipman, OB/GYN.
“The healthier you are going into pregnancy, the healthier your pregnancy is going to be.”
  While these tests won’t change the outcome of any health issues or developmental delays, they can help you plan ahead.
“It is often a great relief for higher-risk patients when they are negative. For an abnormal result, we can get started early pairing a family with a good specialty doctor and support system for their baby’s challenges,” Sharla says.
avoid exposure to toxins
If you smoke, vape or abuse substances of any kind, now is the time to quit. As much as possible, avoid spending time in environments where you are exposed to second-hand smoke or other dangerous fumes.
If you live in an older neighborhood or home, ask your doctor for a blood test to check the levels of lead in your system.
“Lead can contribute to a lot of perinatal complications such as preeclampsia, which is like a hypertensive disorder in pregnancy,” Devika says. (For more info on lead safety, see page 14.)
prioritize self-care
Strained relationships, demanding careers and exhausting lifestyles could make it harder to get pregnant and can interfere with a relaxed, healthy pregnancy
and postpartum period. Manage stress through regular exercise and time with friends. If you continue to struggle, seek guidance from your physician, a licensed counselor or other trusted resources.
“When we empower ourselves to make good choices, we start to see ourselves
as strong and become less willing to allow stressful situations and people in our lives,” Sharla says. “I believe that ‘empowerment decision’ is a natural transition to becoming parents because we begin to see ourselves as moms and protectors.”
 Your Preconception Appointment
• Bring a list of
your questions/ concerns and current medications
• Be transparent about your lifestyle and past/current health issues (including STDs)
• Ask when/how to stop using birth control
• Include your partner (his health history can affect your pregnancy too)
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