You can’t sugarcoat your way to a healthy pregnancy. When it comes to your birth plan, honesty rules. Everything you tell your doctor leads to the best possible care for you and your baby. Your health history—all of it—determines the way forward. Be open. Tell your healthcare provider if you have any of the following conditions:
When it comes to your birth plan, honesty rules.
- Group B Streptococcus
- This isn’t the strep that brings a raging sore throat. Group B Streptococcus (GBS) is a naturally occurring bacteria that sometimes grows in your intestines. In 25% of women, the bacteria also grows in the vagina and/or rectum. If you have GBS, you could pass the bacteria to your newborn during childbirth, increasing your baby’s risk of blood infections, pneumonia, meningitis and death.
Screening for GBS happens between the 35th and 37th weeks of pregnancy. If you test positive, your doctor will give you antibiotics during labor to reduce the odds of passing the bacteria to your baby.
- Rh Incompatible
- A simple blood test in the first trimester can determine your Rh sensitivity. If you test Rh negative, you run the risk of incompatibility, and that risk increases with each subsequent pregnancy. When it happens, antibodies in your blood can attack your baby’s red blood cells, leading to fetal anemia and, in some cases, death.
If you test Rh positive, you’re in the clear. Your doctor may give you an Rh immune globulin injection that can help you carry and deliver your baby safely.
- Gestational Diabetes
- Gestational diabetes happens when your pancreas can’t produce enough insulin to regulate the sugar in your blood. It’s a temporary condition that usually goes away after you deliver. However, if left untreated, it can lead to premature birth, larger birth weight, the need for a C-section and higher risks of fetal and neonatal death.
Gestational diabetes has no symptoms and no specific causes, so it’s important to get tested. Screening typically happens between the 24th and 28th weeks of pregnancy and involves drinking a sweet drink, waiting a bit and then taking a blood test.
- Genital Herpes
- When present in the birth canal, the herpes simplex virus can be passed to your baby during delivery. If that happens, your newborn can develop neonatal herpes, a condition that can damage your baby’s central nervous system, impair your baby’s brain development and possibly lead to death.
It’s rare for a baby to get neonatal herpes. Fewer than 0.1 % ever contract the disease. That’s because you have choices that can safeguard your delivery and protect your newborn from harm. Women take medication in the last month of pregnancy to suppress an outbreak. Others opt for a C-section to avoid a vaginal birth altogether. Regardless of the approach, the key to success is being honest with your doctor up front about your infection. The health of your baby depends on it.