Pregnancy can already be an emotional and challenging time for expectant mothers, but the added worry of a potential issue such as spina bifida or hydrocephalus can make it even more difficult. Understanding the causes, symptoms, treatments, and risks associated with these conditions is important in order to provide the best care for mother and baby.
Understand the Risk Factors for Spina Bifida
Knowing the risk factors for spina bifida can help to inform decisions throughout your pregnancy. Some of the known risk factors include a family history of neural tube birth defects, inadequate prenatal vitamin intake before conception, lack of folic acid, diabetes during pregnancy and environmental exposure to toxins. Additionally, women who are over the age of 35 may be at higher risk for having a baby with spina bifida.
Be Familiar With Symptoms and Diagnostic Processes
The most common way to diagnosing spina bifida prenatally is through an ultrasound, but amniocentesis or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) may also be used. As soon as spina bifida is suspected, tests can be performed to document the extent of the neurological and physical damage, as well as to identify any other associated birth defects. After diagnosis, it’s important for parents and healthcare providers to discuss potential approaches for treating the condition, as well as any long-term management needs that may arise.
Follow Suggested Treatment Strategies
Following the treatment strategies suggested by healthcare providers is crucial for managing spina bifida prenatally. This can involve taking medication, undergoing specific medical treatments, or changing lifestyle habits. Parents should also recognize that long-term management may be necessary and research any medical advancements that are available for the condition. It’s also important to attend follow-up appointments to discuss any changes in symptoms or new treatments opportunities that might be available.
Maintain a Healthy Lifestyle During Pregnancy
To make sure the unborn baby is healthy, pregnant women should follow a balanced and healthy diet while avoiding engaging in any activities that could put them or the baby at risk. It’s also important to ensure that there is an adequate intake of folic acid to ensure proper neural tube development. Women should also practice stress management techniques and stay away from activities that can cause any type of physical harm. Taking breaks, exercising, and resting frequently will help ensure an overall healthier pregnancy experience.
Talk to Your Healthcare Team About Education and Support Resources
It’s important to stay informed and educated throughout the journey. During prenatal visits, it’s important to ask questions about medical care and delivery options in the event of a spina bifida diagnosis. Make sure your health team looks for supports such as specialist services available, language translation services and access rights for interpreters, local advocacy groups, and other support services. There is a wealth of information available about living with spina bifida and how to address any challenges that may arise during pregnancy, labor and delivery and parenting.