Bonding with Baby
Congratulations on your baby! Right now you may be overwhelmed with feelings of joy – and terror. Having a new baby to care for brings on lots of worries, and that’s normal. But try to relax. There’s time to bond with your baby, and time to learn what works for you – and your family. Bonding with your baby is really important to encourage brain development.
Read what happens if, like Liz, your birth experience doesn’t go exactly as planned.
Ready for baby: Managing stress, nutrition and mental health
Liz did everything she could to be healthy: she ate a balanced diet, went on regular walks with a friend, and didn’t smoke or drink. She had everything under control, including her high blood pressure, with the help of a prescription medication.
So when Liz found out she was pregnant, she was confident everything would be ok.
But at her first prenatal checkup, her doctor expressed concern: Liz’s medication wasn’t proven to be safe. So Liz’s doctor changed her medication. Unfortunately, the new medication wasn’t keeping Liz’s blood pressure in check. It took two more visits to her doctor’s office before finding a medication that controlled her hypertension and was safe for her baby.
“I’ve seen plenty of new pregnancies where the moms are taking medications for pre-existing conditions that haven’t been clinically proven safe for pregnancy,” says South Florida obstetrician/gynecologist Jonathan Bratter. “She really needs to be talking with her primary care doctor months before conception so the medication can be adequately adjusted to work well.”
Even if a woman doesn’t have a preexisting condition that requires medication, she still needs to be making an important drugstore purchase: prenatal vitamins.
“Actually, if you’re even thinking about getting pregnant, you need to be on a prenatal vitamin regimen,” says Dr. Bratter. “This is because the vitamins provide folic acid, which, when taken prior to conception, has been shown to significantly reduce the chances of having a baby with neural tube defects like spina bifida.”
Have a Support System
Ensuring physical health is key, but mental health also is crucial in getting pregnant and maintaining a healthy pregnancy.
“You have to avoid stress as much as possible during pregnancy,” urges Dr. Harish Madhav, a board certified OB-GYN in Palm Beach County. “This is where good social capital comes in; if your mother or sister or a good friend can come help take care of your family if you need to be in the hospital during the pregnancy, for example, then you have the social capital to weather any storm.”
For women in an unstable housing situation or experiencing financial stress, for instance, having a support group of people who are going through similar situations can be very beneficial.
This is where Children’s Services Council of Palm Beach County’s Healthy Beginnings programs can be helpful, notes Dr. Madhav, who is also an expert in public health and preventative medicine.
“These programs help bring people together to talk about what they’re going through, and others there are in similar situations. When people come together in this situation, bonds and friendships are formed,” said Dr. Madhav. “And that is exactly the type of support people need.”
Dr. Madhav notes that domestic violence can escalate during pregnancy. But if pregnant women have the support of others, they are more likely to remove themselves from harmful situations.
“If a woman is a victim of domestic violence, she needs to get out of that situation immediately. It’s crucial not only for her, but also for her unborn baby.”
Being in a safe, nurturing environment, eating well and exercising are essential to ensuring a healthy pregnancy. And so is talking to your physician.
“The old saying, ‘It takes a village to raise a child,’ really is true,” says Dr. Madhav. “That starts with keeping good communication with your doctor, getting to every prenatal visit, and making sure you cultivate the support that will be necessary to helping ensure a healthy pregnancy.”
If you need additional support or are wondering whether you and your family are eligible for services, please call Children's Services Council at 1.888.634.7900.