Baby Z and I had our fourth prenatal checkup this morning! All is looking well at 20 weeks, and Baby Z’s heart is beating steadily at 150 bpm. Yay!
I’ve learned over the past few months that these monthly visits to our OB’s office are relatively brief and to the point (assuming that all is well with the mom and baby), and it’s harder to get our OB on the phone later on so it’s better to go in now to each prenatal visit prepared with a list of questions.
Below is my list of questions in bold below and our OB’s response to each. (Note: I realize that some are pretty goofy…J laughed out loud when he first saw my list :(. But whatever, I don’t care! It’s my first kid and I want to understand what’s going on!)
- Should I get the flu shot? I actually really struggled with this one. Getting a flu shot is highly recommended for pregnant women by The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), the American College of Nurse-Midwives, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and many other organizations, and there is even evidence that getting a flu shot during pregnancy offers your baby some protection after birth. (Read more about it here). Since I will be in my third trimester during peak flu season, now would be the best time to get the shot. What was my hesitation then? Well, my only reservation in getting the shot was that I’ve never had a flu shot before, and I had no idea whether or not I would be allergic or have a negative reaction to the vaccine. What’s the verdict? After speaking with my OB about it, I felt comfortable going ahead and getting the shot this morning. I’ve had the flu develop into pneumonia a couple of times before in the past few years, and it’s scary to contemplate that happening to me while I’m pregnant. Also, the flu shot our doctor administered to me today was thimerosal-free (which some people claim to have detrimental effects on a fetus’s mental development, but this has NEVER been proven by either the CDC or the ACOG.) In any case, my shot didn’t include it. And so far…no negative reactions (fingers crossed). I actually feel more mentally at-ease now that I’ve gone ahead with the shot. I feel that both Baby Z and I are more protected now!
- When and how often should I start to feel our baby move? Our OB confirmed what I’ve been reading all along – most moms start to feel their babies move somewhere between 16-24 weeks of pregnancy (on the later side if it is their first child). But even though I’ve started feeling Baby Z’s movements (last night!), I shouldn’t be alarmed if I don’t consistently feel him every day until around 28 weeks. I guess I should feel somewhat relieved that Baby Z won’t be using my insides as his own personal soccer field until a couple of more months from now, but for now, I’m really enjoying and treasuring his first movements!
- Should J and I take a tour of the hospital in which I’ll be giving birth? Definitely! I’ll be giving birth at Mt. Sinai on the UES of Manhattan – a very conscious choice on our part because they have one of the best NICU and pediatric facilities in the country (random trivia: it’s where Gweneth Paltrow gave birth to her daughter Apple and son Moses) – but neither of us have ever been to the hospital. Per our OB’s suggestion, we’re scheduling a (free) tour of the maternity ward so we have a better idea of what to expect when the big day comes.
- Should we think about cord blood banking? Still debatable for us. According to the American Pregnancy Association, cord blood is the blood that remains in the umbilical cord and placenta following birth.The cord blood of your baby is an abundant source of stem cells which are genetically related to your baby and your family. The stem cells are dominant cells in the way that they contribute to the development of all tissues, organs, and systems in the body. Banking a baby’s blood and stem cells in a cord blood bank is a type of insurance. Ideally, you will not need to access your baby’s stem cells in order to address a medical problem later on in life. Parents can opt to store their baby’s cord blood for personal private use or donate it to a public cord blood bank, which could be a life-saving resource for another family. Private cord blood banking is very costly (running upwards of $2,000 for initial collection, and $200-$300 in storage fees annually), and the chances of a family actually retrieving it later if it is needed is very small. (The chances that your baby will have a stem cell transplant by the time he or she is 10 years old is one in 5,000 for donor transplants and one in 10,000 for a transplant using the child’s own cells, according to a study published in the journal Biology of Blood and Marrow Transplant.) Unlike private cord blood banking, public cord blood banking is supported by the medical community. However, there are very strict regulations in which you can donate cord blood and you can only do so at a participating hospital that collects cord blood for donation to public cord blood banks. What’s the verdict? J and I would love to donate our baby’s cord blood to a public bank, but unfortunately, our OB told us that Mount Sinai just recently lost their funding for cord blood collection. We’re opting out of private cord blood storage, but we do know friends who have made the choice to do so.
- Since our baby’s legs and arms are still so tiny relative to his head and body…could his “kicks” really be his head or butt jutting against my belly? (In other words…is my son a head thrasher?) J laughed when I asked this question…and frankly, so did my OB. Hahaha. It makes sense to me that since at 20 weeks, Baby Z’s limbs are still small (and therefore, weak) so maybe the thumps I’ve been feeling are coming from his head or his squishy butt instead. Our OB said it’s possible that it is indeed our son’s head or butt that I’m feeling (take that husband!), but his legs and arms are definitely strong enough at this point to make an impression against my belly too. So maybe Baby Z is not a heavy metal enthusiast after all…
- Last but not least…is it just me, or is my son’s penis ENORMOUS in his ultrasound pic? (see pic below re: the white spot near his butt) Ok, so I knew this question was (a little) ridiculous even before I asked it, but still…I was just curious! Unfortunately (or fortunately?), our OB said that the white spot depicts an area of higher density, which makes it more likely to be a bone than his, um, manly parts. A bit of a disappoint to Daddy Z, but I think we’re both (somewhat) relieved that our son is not (likely) going to make the Guinness Book of World Records for having the largest family jewels around.
Stay tuned next week for our baby’s 3-D ultrasound, when we can finally get a sneak peak at his face!!! Crazy!