Getting the proper care during pregnancy is essential for keeping both the baby and the mom-to-be as healthy as possible all the way through delivery. Northwest Women’s Center provides trusted prenatal care for women in Houston, TX, offering patient-centered care based on each patient’s unique needs.
Dr. McGuirk is that “unicorn doctor” in the sense there is NO ONE else like him. He is hands down the best physician I have ever had. I thoroughly enjoy every encounter with him, and couldn’t have dreamed of having a better OB during my pregnancy. I refer EVERYONE to him that is looking for a new OB/Gyn! - Kimberlee B.
Pregnancy Q & A
Prenatal exams can vary slightly depending on the stage of the pregnancy and other factors. In general, exams include measurements of blood pressure and weight as well as the circumference of the growing belly. The doctor will listen to the baby’s heartbeat and urine testing may be performed. Blood work or other tests may also be ordered or performed in the office, and an ultrasound test may be performed to evaluate the baby’s size and position and other factors. Moms-to-be will receive guidance on how to stay healthy and what to expect during the following weeks of pregnancy, and there will be plenty of time to ask questions or discuss concerns.
High-risk pregnancies are pregnancies where the health of the mother or baby may be at greater risk due to an existing medical condition or other risk factors. Some of the most risk factors associated with high-risk pregnancies include:
- older age
- drug or alcohol abuse
- diabetes or high blood pressure that exist prior to pregnancy or develop during pregnancy
- multiple prior miscarriages
- carrying multiples
- certain diseases, medications or medical treatments including some cancer treatments
- some genetic disorders
Women with high-risk pregnancies will need to be seen more often and may need additional testing to ensure they and their babies stay healthy.
Yes, many women are able to have vaginal births after C-sections (called a VBAC). If you’ve had a C-section and you’d like to have a vaginal delivery this time, the doctor can determine if you’re a good candidate or if C-section might be a better option.
Women who have vaginal deliveries typically recover more quickly than those who have had C-sections. During recovery, women can expect vaginal bleeding that needs to be controlled with pads, not tampons. Strenuous activity will need to be avoided for a week or more, and new mothers may also need some assistance performing household tasks during the first week or so after delivery. Complete instructions regarding recovery care will be provided just prior to delivery so both mother and father can be prepared.
Vaginal delivery is the most common and safest type of childbirth. There are unassisted and assisted methods, depending upon the mother’s situation and on the preferences of the parents.
Unassisted vaginal delivery — Vaginal delivery is sometimes called “natural childbirth” if the mother has not opted for any pain medication or medication to hasten labor.
Assisted vaginal delivery — When there are extenuating circumstances, different methods can be used to assist the mother’s delivery. These include:
- Forceps delivery. Forceps are instruments shaped like large spoons, and they can be used to cup the baby’s head and help guide the baby through the birth canal.
- Vacuum extraction. Vacuum deliver is like forceps delivery. Instead of forceps, our doctors use suction to apply a plastic cup to the baby’s head and gently pull the baby from the birth canal.
- Episiotomy. This is a surgical cut in the tissue between the vaginal opening and the anus. This tissue is known as the perineum. This formerly was thought of as a way to prevent vaginal tears during childbirth, but research has questioned that thinking. Today, this is usually only necessary to speed delivery when absolutely necessary.
- Amniotomy. This is also known as “breaking your water.” Here, your Northwest Women’s Center doctor uses a small plastic hook to make an opening in your amniotic sac.
- Induced labor. If labor is not initiating on its own, your doctor can induce/start labor. This can be necessary if either the baby’s health or the mother’s health are a concern. Labor is induced with a drug given intravenously.
Cesarean section — Commonly known as a c-section, this is a surgical procedure that is performed if a vaginal delivery is not possible. During this procedure, the baby is delivered through surgical incisions made in the abdomen and the uterus.
The first trimester of pregnancy is defined as a period that starts from the first day of a pregnant woman’s last period and continues until the end of 12 weeks. To make your first trimester healthy, you need to take certain precautions. These are listed here:
- Take your vitamin supplements — At Northwest Women’s Center, we provide you will necessary vitamin supplements like calcium, folic acid, vitamin D, magnesium, probiotics, fish oil, and others as they help fulfill the necessary nutritional requirements for both mother and baby.
- Get your rest — Fatigue is common during early pregnancy, so you need to rest as much as possible.
- Eat well — Now is the time to up your food choices. Eat lots of fresh leafy vegetables, fruits, sweet potatoes, fish, dairy items such as yogurt, eggs, chickpeas, lentils, and more. Cut out the fast food and processed food. Drink lots of water throughout the day, no matter how much it makes you pee.
- Keep active — When you’re not tired, be sure to keep up with light exercise.
- Don’t overeat — While you will need to put on weight, it needs to be within reason. This isn’t an excuse to eat everything in sight. Our team will give you appropriate weight numbers that you can keep up with.
- No drinking — Alcohol consumption at any point of your pregnancy is out, as it can negatively affect brain development. This is particularly an issue during the first trimester.
- Keep travel to a minimum — Local travel is fine for up to 36 weeks, but this isn’t a time for exhaustive distant travel.
- No drugs — Recreational drugs are also out for your entire pregnancy. They can cause birth defects, and they increase your chances of miscarriage.
- No smoking — The toxins you inhale with cigarette smoke are extremely dangerous for your baby. They pass through the bloodstream and reach your baby’s body.
Labor typically starts soon after your water breaks, but that’s not always the case. But if your water breaks and you don’t go into labor before it does or shortly thereafter (occurs in 8 to 10 percent of women), we need to hear from you. If this happens preterm (any time before 37 weeks of pregnancy), you need to contact us immediately.
When your water breaks, you may still have some time before active labor begins. But you should still give us a call at Northwest Women’s Center so we can get an update on what is going on.
A midwife is a health professional trained to support and care for women during pregnancy, labor, and delivery. Midwives provide most of your antenatal care if you’re planning to give birth in a public maternity unit. They have a larger role in planned home births.
During pregnancy a midwife will usually:
- Check your baby’s health, growth, and position
- Advise and help with scheduling of routine tests and checks
- Provide ongoing support and advice
- Help you prepare for labor and birth
At Northwest Women’s Center, Chantel Ashley, CNM, is our certified nurse midwife. She is board certified by the Texas Board of Nursing and the American Midwifery Certification Board.
Typically, your belly bump becomes noticeable during your second trimester. The time between 16-20 weeks is usually the time your body will start showing your baby’s growth. This time frame may be at 12 weeks if you are a person at a lower weight with a smaller midsection, and closer to 16 weeks if you’re a person with more weight.