Mom's Health

Well mom, to have a healthy baby, it is best to make sure you are healthy too! The following section is all about keeping you healthy for your new addition. There are 8 health items to check once you know you are pregnant. Call your health provider with any questions.

Periodontal Exam

Content Provided by March of Dimes

Women who are planning to have a baby should see their dentist for a checkup prior to pregnancy, the March of Dimes says.

The March of Dimes comments came in response to an article published today in the Journal of the American Medical Association that found dental X-rays during pregnancy were associated with an increased risk of low birthweight.

"Preterm birth and low birthweight are serious and costly problems in this country," said Nancy S. Green, M.D., medical director of the March of Dimes. "The March of Dimes urges all women of childbearing age to take a number of simple steps prior to pregnancy to help ensure the best possible start in life for their future babies. These include getting a medical checkup, a dental checkup, and taking a multivitamin containing folic acid every day."

Women who are currently pregnant should tell their dentist and discuss postponing routine dental X-rays until after the baby is born, Dr. Green said.

Thyroid Conditions & Pregnancy

Content Provided by March of Dimes

The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland located in your neck, in front of your windpipe. This tiny gland plays a huge role in your health. The hormones produced by the thyroid gland influence your heart rate, your metabolism, and many other aspects of your health.

Sometimes the thyroid gland produces too much or too little of the thyroid hormone (thyroxine) that keeps the body functioning normally.

  • Hyperthyroidism is the disorder that occurs if the thyroid gland is too active.
  • Hypothyroidism is the disorder that occurs if the thyroid gland isn't active enough.

In the U.S., about 8 million women have either hyperthyroidism or hypothyroidism that is unrecognized and untreated.

Some women have a thyroid disorder that began before pregnancy. Others develop thyroid problems for the first time during pregnancy or soon after delivery.

An untreated thyroid disorder during pregnancy is a danger to both mother and baby. For mothers, the risks include a pregnancy-related form of high blood pressure (called preeclampsia) and other pregnancy complications. For babies, the risks include preterm birth, decreased mental abilities, thyroid disorder and even death. But with proper treatment, most women with thyroid disorders can have a healthy baby.

What You Can Do

If you have a thyroid condition, be sure to tell the health care provider who will take care of you during your pregnancy. It's best if you do this before you become pregnant.

If you are already pregnant, continue taking your medication and talk to your provider as soon as possible. Many medications used to treat thyroid disease in pregnancy are safe for a fetus. But radioactive iodine, which is sometimes used to treat hyperthyroidism, should not be taken during pregnancy. In addition, your blood levels need to be monitored and the amount of medication you take may need to be adjusted as your pregnancy progresses.

Health care providers do not routinely perform thyroid screening for women who are planning to get pregnant or who are newly pregnant. If you think you might have a thyroid condition - or if you have a family history of thyroid disease - ask your provider if you should be tested.

Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH) Test

A TSH is a blood test that screens for an underactive (hypothyroid) and an overactive (hyperthyroid) thyroid to see if your thyroid levels are in normal ranges.

Mild forms of thyroid disease may affect from 5 to 10 percent of all women, in which more than half of all these cases may remain undiagnosed. Feeling tired, being forgetful, and gaining weight are classic symptoms of being a new mom as well as signs of hypothyroidism. The opposite condition, hyperthyroidism, usually shows itself with a racing heart, trouble sleeping, or weight loss, which might be dismissed as anxiety or stress.

If you're trying to have another baby, this is a crucial test, since a thyroid disorder can stop you from ovulating and increase your risk of miscarriage or premature delivery. If you're diagnosed with hypothyroidism, you'll be put on a synthetic hormone supplement for life; hyperthyroidism is usually treated with radioactive iodine to reduce thyroid hormone production.

Complete Blood Count (CBC)

CBC is a blood test that evaluates how well your bone marrow and immune system are working by measuring white blood cells (high levels mean an infection), hemoglobin (low levels indicate anemia), and platelets (low levels signify your blood may have trouble clotting). You're more likely to have heavy periods after having children, which can make you susceptible to anemia. Signs of being anemic are tiredness and being short of breath.

Blood Pressure and Cholesterol Test

Blood pressure and cholesterol tests are tests that assess how healthy your heart is and your risk of heart disease by measuring your blood pressure. A "cuff" test measures how hard your circulating blood is pushing against the walls of your arteries. Cholesterol tests measure the HDL ("good" cholesterol), LDL ("bad" cholesterol), and triglycerides in your blood. The dangers of these issues with moms, especially smokers, is that they can be so well hidden. Blood pressure less than 120/80 is ideal. But don't panic if yours is slightly higher. Simple lifestyle changes can often bring it down. Your LDL cholesterol should be below 130 and your HDL above 50.

Blood pressure should be checked annually. Cholesterol screening should start at age 20 and be repeated every five years, but you'll need to be tested more frequently than that if it's elevated.

There is a test for measuring c-reactive protein in your liver if you believe you are at risk. Ask your doctor whether you should have the c-reactive protein test. It measures levels of a substance your liver makes called c-reactive protein (CRP), which can cause inflammation in the blood vessels, increasing your risk of heart disease or a heart attack. It is recommended for women over 30 or with known risk factors in the family.

Pap Smear

A simple swab test to detect precancerous and cancerous changes in your cervix. It may also be used to check for the human papillomavirus (HPV), a common sexually transmitted virus. Certain strains of HPV, when left unchecked, can lead to cervical cancer over time. Once again, many of these conditions can stay hidden for years with no prior symptom or signs. It is a good practice to screen for these possible conditions early to avoid complications later. If you have a normal Pap smear three years in a row and you're in a monogamous relationship, you need this test only every three years, according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. But if you've recently had an abnormal Pap smear, or recently tested positive for HPV, you'll need to get one every three to six months.

Skin Examination

A visual exam of your skin by your doctor or dermatologist to check for signs of skin cancer, such as Malignant melanoma, is the most common cancer among women 25 to 29. While many women experience skin pigmentations during pregnancy, a visual screening before hand is recommended to view any significant changes later. Your doctor would take a small biopsy of any suspicious patches, moles or skin patches (a small sample of tissue is removed from the area and sent to a laboratory for examination). Show your doctor anything you may think is new, changed or even itchy.

Fasting Blood-Sugar Test

A test that screens for diabetes that measures the sugar in your blood after an eight-hour fast.

If your family has a history of diabetes, high blood pressure, or are overweight before or after a pregnancy. Those who are diagnosed with gestational diabetes have up to a 50 percent chance of developing Type 2 diabetes later in life. If you're diagnosed with diabetes, it most likely will be controlled through a combination of diet, exercise, and, if necessary, insulin injections. If you are over 30, make sure you have this test. If you already know you are diabetic, ask your doctor about a blood test called the A1C, which measures the percentage of glucose attached to red blood cells in the bloodstream. If your A1C level is above 7 percent, your risk of complications from diabetes is much higher.

Bone Mineral Density Test

For nearly all pregnant women this is not a concern. The test is to check for osteoporosis. Simply put, osteoporosis is bone loss. Sometimes a doctor will ask for a density test if this condition is believed to be present. Bones are always changing and build a new skeleton about every 8 months! A small amount of bone loss is typical after age 35, but this is perfectly normal. Osteoporosis is a disease that affects about 8 million American women each year and occurs when the bones become thin and weak. It measures bone density, using a machine called a dual energy photon absorptiometer, or DEXA. If there is a history of osteoporosis, and you are breastfeeding, your body may take calcium from your own bones to give it to your baby. If your scan reveals early bone thinning (a condition known as osteopenia), your doctor may recommend preventive measures ranging from weight-bearing exercises to calcium supplements. If you have a history of fractures or known family history of osteoporosis, just mention it to your doctor.

Flu Vaccine

The CDC recommends that pregnant women receive the flu shot. A pregnant woman who gets any type of flu has a greater chance for serious health problems. For more information on the CDC recommendations please click here.