Before the Bump: New 'Maybe Baby' Class Prepares Would-Be Parents

Sponsored by: Roper St. Francis Healthcare

Parents to-be do a lot of planning for their new baby. They pick out the safest crib and car seat, decorate the nursery and take classes on breastfeeding and infant CPR. But, many parents wish they’d done a little more pre-conception planning because there are plenty of questions that need answered before the baby bump.

To help couples prepare, Roper St. Francis Healthcare is offering a new class for couples thinking about getting pregnant, “Maybe Baby? What to Know Before You Get Pregnant.” The class is led by OB/GYNs with Roper St. Francis Physician Partners, including Dr. Meghan Lynch.

This class really gives helpful information that’s important to your health prior to pregnancy,” Lynch says. “Couples can be aware of options for genetic testing as it might affect the timing of when they want to conceive, and they know when to reach out to their doctor to discuss pre-pregnancy health issues.”

The “Maybe Baby” class covers three key areas: optimizing mom’s health, options for genetic carrier screening tests and the Zika virus.

When it comes to good pre-pregnancy health, Lynch says moms should have a healthy diet and maintain a healthy weight. She suggests following the ChooseMyPlate.gov guidelines: half your plate should be fruits/vegetables, a fourth should be protein and the other fourth whole grains.

Lynch recommends women understand their body mass index (BMI) because being overweight or underweight can impact fertility and pregnancy.

Supplements – prenatal vitamins, folic acid to protect against spina bifida, extra iron – are an important part of pregnancy planning and starting those in advance of getting pregnant is best, Lynch said.

The class is a good time for parents to think about any habits they need to quit, such as smoking or using illicit drugs. Moms also need to consider their work environment and whether it might pose a risk to the baby, Lynch says. Do they work around radiation, chemicals or have a job that requires a lot of heavy lifting?

Lynch says the class will help parents think through whether they want any genetic testing to determine if they might be carriers for disorders such as cystic fibrosis and spinal muscular atrophy. Plenty of moral and ethical questions can arise around genetic testing, so it’s an important topic for couples to discuss before they get pregnant.

Zika – a virus spread by mosquitos and sexual intercourse – can cause severe birth defects if a pregnant woman is infected. It’s an important conversation to have with couples who want to conceive. Lynch says she reviews prevention information in the class and shares Centers for Disease Control and Prevention resources and maps that track cases of Zika.

This information is especially important for couples who have traveled to high-risk areas since the virus can be spread through sexual intercourse. And it’s applicable to military members who may be traveling quite a bit, she explains.

I hear from patients who wish they had thought about all this ahead of time,” Lynch says. “We want to help people know how they can be better prepared for pregnancy.

Maybe you aren’t planning to get pregnant until five years down the road, this is still helpful for optimizing your health and knowing what’s important to be aware of,” she adds.

The “Maybe Baby” class is offered free of charge the fourth Tuesday of each month at Roper St. Francis Mount Pleasant Hospital. For more information about the “Maybe Baby” classes or to sign up, click here.

Whether you’re welcoming new life into the world or need emergency care, surgery or physical therapy, Roper St. Francis Healthcare is here for you. To learn more about all of the healthcare services Roper St. Francis provides call (843) 402-CARE (2273) or visit online at rsfh.com.