Obtaining Medical Care

You may or may not have already seen a doctor. Obtaining prenatal care is important to both your health and the health of the baby. Giving your baby a healthy start is another gift you can give to him or her. You may already have your own doctor and this is fine. If not, we will work with you to find the best medical facility for your situation. If a final decision for adoption is made, medical expenses relating to the pregnancy and birth of the child will be paid by the adoptive couple.

The exception to this will be in regard to rare cases where a child is born with significant complications and medical problems. Our ability to facilitate adoption for a child with these concerns will depend upon our adoptive parent resources and the availability of insurance to cover unusually large medical bills. Referral may need to be made to the state agency, which has resources to handle these unusual cases. In any event, you will be involved in this decision making process and whatever changes may need to be made.

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Pregnancy and Smoking

Smoking during PregnancyYou may or may not have already seen a doctor. Obtaining prenatal care is important to both your health and the health of the baby. Giving your baby a healthy start is another gift you can give to him or her. You may already have your own doctor and this is fine. If not, we will work with you to find the best medical facility for your situation. If a final decision for adoption is made, medical expenses relating to the pregnancy and birth of the child will be paid by the adoptive couple.

The exception to this will be in regard to rare cases where a child is born with significant complications and medical problems. Our ability to facilitate adoption for a child with these concerns will depend upon our adoptive parent resources and the availability of insurance to cover unusually large medical bills. Referral may need to be made to the state agency, which has resources to handle these unusual cases. In any event, you will be involved in this decision making process and whatever changes may need to be made.

Smokers inhale nicotine and carbon monoxide, which reach the baby through the placenta and prevent the fetus from getting the nutrients and oxygen needed to grow. Secondhand smoke also adds a risk to pregnancy. Breast milk often contains whatever is in the woman's body. If the woman smokes, the baby ingests the nicotine in her breast milk.

Reducing frequency of smoking may not benefit the baby. A pregnant woman who reduces her smoking pattern or switches to lower tar cigarettes may inhale more deeply or take more puffs to get the same amount of nicotine as before.

The most effective way to protect the fetus is to quit smoking. If a woman plans to conceive a child in the near future, quitting is essential. A woman who quits within the first three or four months of pregnancy can lower the chances of her baby being born premature or with health problems related to smoking. Pregnancy is a great time for a woman to quit. No matter how long she has been smoking, her body benefits from her quitting because it lessens her chances of developing future tobacco-related health problems, such as lung and heart disease, and cancer.

Source: American Lung Association Fact Sheet, "Smoking and Pregnancy," September 1999

Pregnancy and Alcohol Consumption

Drinking alcohol during pregnancy amounts to sharing your cocktail with your tiny, developing baby. The same level of alcohol you ingest is also ingested by your baby, says the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG).

Why is alcohol consumption during pregnancy so bad for your baby? Mainly because alcohol consumption during pregnancy affects your baby's cognitive and physical development. The highest risk from alcohol to your developing baby is during the earliest stages of pregnancy, when baby's critical organs are forming and cells are dividing very rapidly. The more you drink during pregnancy, the greater health risks you and your baby are facing. Since there is no known safe level of alcohol consumption during pregnancy, the ACOG recommends eliminating all alcohol consumption during pregnancy to optimize your chances for a healthy baby.

According to ACOG, if you are a heavy drinker before, during, or after pregnancy, you face a slew of serious health problems such as:

  • Vitamin and mineral deficiency
  • Damage to your internal organs, including your brain, liver, and digestive system
  • Depression
  • Increased risk of certain types of cancer

For baby, the effects of alcohol abuse include:

  • Miscarriage
  • Fetal alcohol syndrome, the most common cause of mental retardation in babies
  • Physical defects
  • Low birth weight
  • Hyperactivity
  • Decreased attention span

And the evidence against drinking during pregnancy only continues to mount. It used to be believed that drinking moderate amounts (a drink a day) was relatively safe. But it's only recently been discovered that children of women who drank during pregnancy, even those who had as little as one drink a day, were experiencing developmental problems throughout their childhood and even into adolescence. A 2002 study by the University of Pittsburgh found that children of mothers who drank at least one drink a day during their first trimester weighed, on average, 16 pounds less at the age of 14 than those with no exposure to alcohol in the womb.

The message is clear: Pregnant women should not be drinking at all. If you're pregnant and find yourself unable to stop drinking, don't be ashamed to talk with your obstetrician. She can recommend ways for you to find the help and support you need to stop drinking for your sake, and for your precious baby's sake.

Source: American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists

Prenatal Radiation Exposure

In early pregnancy, the cells of the unborn child are dividing rapidly, and large doses of radiation can be hazardous. Therefore pregnant women should avoid exposure to x-rays if at all possible. If you've had x-rays then later discovered that you were pregnant, it's understandable you would be concerned. The good news is that according to the American Association of Physicists in Medicine (AAPM), an unborn child exposed to 1 rem of radiation has less than one chance in a thousand of suffering birth defects as a result of the exposure, even if exposed during the most critical stages of development (3 to 8 weeks of pregnancy). The "natural" risk of congenital defect is much greater than any potential added risk from the x-rays.

The risk to the baby is practically nil for the following exposures:

  • Dental x-rays, even without a lead apron
  • Diagnostic x-rays of the head, spine, chest or abdomen
  • Barium enema
  • IVP
  • living near a nuclear power plant
  • working as an x-ray technologist (following good radiation safety guidelines)
  • x-rays to the fathers testicles just prior to conception

According to AAPM, "...both the American College of Radiology and the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology have adopted a policy that rarely if ever is termination of pregnancy advisable because of the radiation risk arising from diagnostic x-ray examinations."

Source of Technical Information: "A Primer on Low-Level Ionizing Radiation and Its Biological Effects," Published for the American Association of Physicists in Medicine by the American Institute of Physics, AAPM Report No. 18, 335 E. 45th Street, NY, NY 10017, 1986.

For more information on Pregnancy and Radiation, visit the Health Physics Society.

Pregnancy and HIV/AIDS

The best way to keep yourself and your baby healthy is to avoid getting AIDS in the first place. Risky behaviors, like drug use, having sex with a man who uses drugs, and prostitution can put a woman and her baby at risk for AIDS, drug addiction, and other diseases. A latex or silicone condom can help reduce the risk, but the best solution is to simply not have sex with someone if there's a chance he could be HIV positive.

The good news is a pregnant, HIV positive woman will not usually give her child the disease. There is a 75% chance that the child will be completely unaffected if the HIV+ mother does nothing. The odds of having an infected child are less than 8% if the mother is treated with ZDV (AZT) during the pregnancy. For this reason it is recommended that all pregnant women avail themselves of an HIV test as soon as pregnancy is discovered.

Because the child takes on the mother's immune system, the infant will have HIV antibodies, subsequently testing positive after birth. Not until the child is eighteen months old can it be known for certain whether or not he or she is actually infected with the AIDS virus. It has even been documented that some infected infants clear themselves of the AIDS virus. Although most children who do contract AIDS have poor prognoses, some lead healthy and relatively unaffected lives. If the prospect of raising a child with AIDS is too difficult, there are families who are willing to adopt HIV+ babies.

Source of Medical Information: UCLA AIDS Institute Perspectives, 4(1), Winter 1996.

HEALTH WARNING:

Women who have induced abortions have an increased risk of HIV-1 infection of 172%. (Researchers are at least 99% confident of this result.)

"Significantly higher prevalences of infection [HIV-1] were associated with induced abortion (0.49%) than with delivery (0.18%) (OR: 2.72; 95% CI: 2.29-3.22)" - European Journal of Epidemiology, "Deliveries, abortion and HIV-1 infection in Rome, 1989-1994," 1997,13:373-378.

 

(See the Pregnancy Menu in the right column for more pregnancy information)



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Child Development

First Trimester

Week 2 - Conception is the moment at which the sperm penetrates the ovum. Once fertilized it is called a zygote, until it reaches the uterus 3-4 days later.

Week 4 - The embryo may float freely in the uterus for about 48 hours before implanting. Upon implantation, complex connections between the mother and embryo develop to form the placenta.

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