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Family Planning after Pregnancy Loss or Stillbirth
Plan for a healthy pregnancy:
Most women are able to have a healthy baby after pregnancy loss or stillbirth. You can take several important steps to reduce your risk for another stillbirth or miscarriage. Careful planning may help both you and your baby stay healthy.
See your doctor for an exam before you get pregnant:
Your healthcare provider will make sure you are healthy and ready to get pregnant. He or she will make sure that your medical conditions are under control. This may include good control over your blood sugars and blood pressure. Tests will give information about your overall health. An ultrasound may be used to take pictures of your reproductive organs and check for problems.
Genetic disorder screening tests:
These tests may be offered to check the risk for some genetic disorders. A genetic counselor can explain how certain conditions are passed from one family member to another. Counseling may also help you understand how a genetic condition has caused a pregnancy loss or stillbirth. A screening test may include blood tests to check your DNA or your partner's DNA. The results may show an increased risk for certain conditions that can be passed to a baby. Genetic tests are not always accurate or complete. Your baby may be born with a genetic disorder that did not show up in the tests. Talk to your healthcare provider about any concerns you have with genetic testing.
Reach a healthy weight before you get pregnant:
A healthy weight may decrease your risk for another stillbirth or miscarriage. Ask your healthcare provider how much you should weigh and how to reach a healthy weight.
Keep all prenatal appointments during your next pregnancy:
You and your baby may need close monitoring during your next pregnancy. Your healthcare provider may check your baby's heart rate and movements frequently. You may need blood tests or a nonstress test. You may also need your blood pressure checked frequently. You may choose to have tests that check for certain genetic conditions before your baby is born. The following are commonly used:
- Chorionic villus sampling is done during the first trimester (9 to 11 weeks). A sample of cells from the placenta is taken to examine the chromosomes.
- Amniocentesis is done during the second trimester (16 to 18 weeks). A sample of the fluid surrounding the baby is taken to examine the chromosomes.
- A detailed ultrasound may be taken of the baby's spine and skull.
Do kick counts during pregnancy as directed:
Your healthcare provider may tell you to start doing kick counts at 32 weeks of pregnancy. Kick counts measure how much your baby is moving in your womb. Kick counts will help you monitor your baby's movement on your own.
Do not smoke, drink, or use drugs during pregnancy:
Alcohol, smoking and other drugs can increase your risk for a stillbirth. Talk to your healthcare provider if you need help to quit using drugs, smoking, or drinking alcohol.
For more information:
- The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists
P.O. Box 70620
Washington , DC 20024-9998
Phone: 1- 202 - 638-5577
Phone: 1- 800 - 673-8444
Web Address: http://www.acog.org
- March of Dimes Birth Defects Foundation
1275 Mamaroneck Avenue
White Plains , NY 10605
Web Address: http://www.marchofdimes.com
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