Pregnancy is a time of excitement. Decorating the nursery. Talking about baby names. Daydreaming about baby’s features.
Expectant parents are also busy considering how baby will affect finances, work schedules and demands, daycare options, and family dynamics.
But, before all that, the most important thing to consider is the health of the pregnant person.
A recently-released Blue Cross® Blue Shield® Health of America Report External Site titled Trends in Pregnancy and Childbirth — Complications in the U.S. External Site shows some troubling trends.
- A greater number of people are entering pregnancy with pre-existing conditions.
- The number of people experiencing both pregnancy complications and childbirth complications increased 31.5%.
- Those with pregnancy complications are twice as likely to have childbirth complications.
- Postpartum depression diagnoses increased by nearly 30%.
The good news is there are tangible ways to improve your health and, ultimately, the health of your baby. There’s no better time to adopt some healthy habits than at the beginning of a new stage of life — or even if you’re planning on becoming pregnant.
Get up and get moving
You might be getting tired of seeing this advice over and over again. But, there is good reason why. Regular exercise has been shown to combat disease External Site, manage chronic disease External Site, and offers a whole host of other health benefits. According to the Health of America Report, between 2015–2018, there was a 31 percent increase in hypertension, 28 percent increase in Type 2 diabetes, and a 100 percent increase in diagnosed obesity in individuals prior to pregnancy.
Exercise isn’t a one-size-fits-all activity — especially for those who are pregnant. It’s important to consult your doctor before starting any new exercise, but something as simple as walking 30 minutes a day is a great place to start. Whether planning for a pregnancy or if you’re currently pregnant, walking has a whole host of health benefits and is safe and low impact. If walking isn’t your thing, prenatal yoga or group fitness classes are great motivators for staying with an exercise routine. And, if you need to ease into a fitness routine, try incorporating more movement into your day — park farther away from the door or take the stairs instead of an elevator.
Don't miss your preventive visits
COVID-19 and pregnancy
The COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically interrupted daily life, but it shouldn’t get in the way of regular preventive care. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention External Site recommends pregnant people not skip prenatal care appointments or postpartum appointments. If you are concerned about attending your appointment due to COVID-19, talk to your health care provider.
Experts recommend early and routine prenatal and postnatal care to ensure a safe pregnancy, childbirth and healthy postpartum period. However, a Blue Cross Blue Shield Association survey found that one-third of pregnant people reported receiving fewer than the recommended 10 prenatal visits.
Regular visits to your care provider, whether pregnant or not, lead to better health outcomes External Site. But, it’s especially important for an expectant parent — or those who plan to become pregnant — to receive regular care. Prenatal care offers screenings, important ultrasounds, and regular checkups to make sure you and baby are doing well. It’s also a great time to get to know the doctors or midwives and nurses who will be attending your birth.
If you need help locating a doctor or midwife, log in to or register for myWellmark® Opens New Window to locate an in-network care provider or check your maternity-related health benefits.
Take care of your mental health
While pregnancy is an exciting time, it can be an emotional one, too. There’s an influx of new hormones, physical changes, and lots of unknowns. Staying in check with your mental health is as critical as your physical health. And if you’re in the process of trying to get pregnant, that can be a very emotionally charged time, as well. Having resources to ensure you’re felling well mentally is not only good for you but also your future family.
Pregnant people can experience prenatal depression External Site and postpartum depression External Site. In fact, the Health of America Report noted a nearly 30 percent increase in postpartum depression since 2014. This might be due to increased awareness, which is a promising sign because that means people are discarding any outdated stigmas around seeking mental health care.
If you need help, talk to your health care provider, a loved one, or you can download the Doctor On Demand® External Site app on your smartphone. Doctor On Demand connects to a board-certified mental health professional who can help you if you’re struggling.
When it comes to pregnancy-related questions, there’s a lot of information out there — which can be overwhelming. Of course, you’ll get advice from everyone about what you should and shouldn’t be doing. Wellmark members can get trusted and helpful resources for a healthy, stress-free pregnancy with the Pregnancy Support Program through myWellmark Opens New Window.
The free program is here for you 24/7 throughout your pregnancy and after your baby is born, and includes resources like:
- WebMD® Pregnancy Assistant, which has information about the stages of your baby’s growth and provides support throughout your pregnancy.
- Count the Kicks®, an app that helps you keep track of your baby’s normal movement patterns in the third trimester.
- Text4BabySM, a tool you can use to learn about baby milestones, set appointment reminders and get safety information via text message.
You can also choose to receive one-on-one support over the phone from an Advanced Care nurse, if needed.
Wellmark members can even get answers to questions day or night with BeWell 24/7SM Opens New Window.
So, whether you’re just starting to plan for a family, are currently pregnant or hope to have a child someday, taking care of your health and well-being is the first step.
Doctor On Demand physicians do not prescribe Drug Enforcement Administration-controlled substances, and may elect not to treat conditions or prescribe other medications based on what is clinically appropriate.
For plans that include benefits for mental health treatment, Doctor On Demand benefits may include treatment for certain psychological conditions, emotional issues and chemical dependency. Services performed by Doctor On Demand psychologists are covered. Doctor On Demand does not provide psychiatry services. For more information, call Wellmark at the number on your ID card.
Doctor On Demand is a separate company providing an online telehealth solution for Wellmark members. Doctor On Demand® is a registered mark of Doctor On Demand, Inc.
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