Congratulations! You are pregnant and this is one of the most exciting things that will ever happen to you. As an expat without extended family close by, the thought of having a baby in a foreign country may seem daunting, but mothers-to-be in Beijing need not worry. Because medical facilities in Beijing offer a full range of options for pregnant women, a many expat women opt to have their babies here. At Beijing United Family Hospital and Clinics (BJU), which follows an American model, Dr. Afnan, chair of the Obstetrics and Gynecology Department explains, “We are well-equipped, have an intensive care facility, and experienced doctors.” But wherever you choose to give birth, there is a long list of things to do in preparation for the baby. With the help of Dr. Afnan, here is a month-by-month guide for moms-to-be.
One month before: Start taking folic acid and prenatal vitamins. Get checked for preexisting medical conditions.
You can have pasteurized milk cheese, like cottage cheese and cream cheese. Do not eat raw fish, raw meat, uncooked eggs, or soft cheeses.
Schedule your first prenatal appointment and write down any questions you may have for your doctor.
Connect with other mothers. Discuss the topic of breastfeeding
with La Leche League (sessions held in English and Chinese) or Baby Café in Sanlitun.
Find fellow mothers online through the Beijing Bump and Beijing Mamas Yahoo groups.
You may experience nausea. Try eating small, frequent meals, and nothing too spicy. If you get heartburn, place a few pillows under your head so you are not lying flat. To control the nausea, try acupuncture or eating ginger.
You may begin feeling extra tired. Take naps during the day and try to exercise regularly.
Schedule an ultrasound with your doctor for a six-week check-up.
Your doctor will administer a routine blood test.
Your doctor may offer a combined test, which is an ultrasound and blood test to check for chromosome abnormalities in the baby. Women ages 35 and up are considered high risk, but even women under 35 years of age will be offered this test. Results of the test will come back in about two weeks.
You may experience mood swings and even though your morning sickness may be getting better, you may find that you are having difficulty concentrating. To help your concentration, get plenty of sleep, eat lots of fruits and vegetables and avoid sugar, and make lists for yourself. Also, don’t be afraid to ask for help, and always remember to set aside time for yourself.
Get a check-up at 12 weeks.
Schedule check-ups every four weeks until the 28th week. Your doctor will give you a routine physical exam that includes blood pressure, urine analysis, and will check the uterus and listen to the baby’s heart. At 16 weeks, your doctor will review your collective blood results.
At 20 weeks, the doctor will take a detailed look at your baby’s heart, looking for abnormalities. An ultrasound will give you a look at the baby’s abdomen and brain.
You are likely to feel pain on the sides of your abdomen. This is due to your uterus stretching. You may also notice that your feet swell if you stand too long. Rest as much as possible with your feet elevated.
You may feel the baby move between 16 and 20 weeks.
At 20 weeks, along with the routine physical examination, your doctor will give you a blood test to check for diabetes and your hemoglobin.
Beginning at week 28, you should be seen by your doctor every two weeks for a routine check-up. At these appointments, the doctor will check the size of your uterus and to see which way your baby is facing.
At 36 weeks, your doctor may screen you for a bacteria infection called Group B Strep. Only one out of 2,000 pregnant women are at risk of getting this infection but it is severe. It can be treated with antibiotics.
After 36 weeks, you will be visiting the doctor every week. Be sure to discuss a birth plan with your doctor.
Labor should not be induced before 39 weeks unless there is a medical reason. Early inducement can affect the baby’s breathing.
At 40 weeks, 50 to 60 percent of women go into labor naturally without being induced. Your doctor may offer to give you a membrane stretch, which is mechanical stimulation.
At 42 weeks, it is recommended that labor be induced; there is risk of an unexplained stillbirth. If you don’t want to be induced, your doctor will put you on a program to closely monitor the baby. Ten percent of women go past 42 weeks.
Swap stories with other Beijing parents
Look out for events
Create a birth plan
Track your pregnancy online for free
Connect with other moms on Yahoo
Beijing Mamas: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Beijing_Mamas
Beijing Bump: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/beijingbump
Attend a meeting with La Leche League
Meet other pregnant and breastfeeding moms
What to Expect When You Are Expecting
by Heidi Murkoff and Sharon Mazel
The fourth edition of what is arguably the most famous English-language book on pregnancy is as exhaustive as it is thick. The 600-page tome discusses topics ranging from pregnancy tests and month-by-month fetal development to diet, illness symptoms and even advice on sex during pregnancy.
The Expectant Father
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Aimed at fathers-to-be, The Expectant Father comes with a month-by-month
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This book offers all the medical background and information a young mother needs. Organized by week, the chapters outline the individual stages and the changes in a mother’s body during pregnancy.
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Australia’s bestselling babycare book gives expert advice for the first 12 months of a baby’s life. Full of Robin Barker’s wisdom and humor, this guide has been fully revised, including new material on nutrition, food allergy and intolerance, and updates on safe sleeping, breast-feeding, "reflux" and immunization.
To find the nearest bookstore, see Directory.