What can I do to help my baby while I'm pregnant?
The best way to help your baby is to keep all of your prenatal visits with your doctor. You should also monitor how often your baby moves and kicks. A baby who moves around often is usually healthy. A baby who doesn't move very often or who stops moving may be sick. If you notice your baby isn't moving as much, call your doctor.
Another way you can help your baby is to take good care of your body. Eat plenty of healthy foods and take in the recommended amount of calories for a pregnant woman. Rest will help you feel better and it may even help your baby grow. Try to get 8 hours of sleep (or more) each night. An hour or 2 of rest in the afternoon is also good for you. Finally, if you smoke, drink alcohol or use drugs, stop now. These things can hurt your baby. This may be all that is needed to improve your baby's health, as well as your own.
If my baby has IUGR, will I have to give birth early?
Maybe not. The time of delivery depends on how well your baby is doing. Sometimes, babies with IUGR keep on growing in the uterus. If your baby keeps gaining some weight, an early delivery may not be needed. But if your baby is not growing at all or has other problems, your doctor may decide that an early delivery could help. In this case, your doctor may want to induce labor. Your baby's heart rate and movements will be closely watched to help you and your doctor make this decision.
Will I need to have a cesarean section?
If there are no signs of problems with your baby during labor, a vaginal delivery is okay. Some babies with IUGR are weak. The stress of labor and delivery may be too much for a weak baby. If your baby has problems during labor, a cesarean section (also called a C-section) may be safer.
Will my baby need to stay in the hospital longer than usual?
Probably, especially if your baby was born early. Babies who are small at birth need to stay in the hospital until they can breathe and feed normally. After your baby is born, the doctor will check your baby's weight to make sure the baby is growing. Generally, babies stay in the hospital until they weigh about 5 pounds and can breathe and feed normally.
Intrauterine Growth Restriction: Identification and Management by David Peleg, M.D., Collen M. Kennedy, M.D., and Stephen K. Hunter, M.D., PH.D. (American Family Physician August 01, 1998, http://www.aafp.org/afp/980800ap/peleg.html)
Written by familydoctor.org editorial staff