Have a Well-Informed Pregnancy: 10 Ways to Avoid Complications During Pregnancy

Florida medical malpractice lawsuits resulting from negligence come in many forms. However, the common ground is that a patient suffered an injury because they did not receive the standard level of care. To help you understand medical negligence in Florida, our skilled attorneys at Freedland Harwin Valori Gander explore the state’s most common types of medical malpractice lawsuits.

Written and edited by our team of expert legal content writers and reviewed and approved by Daniel Harwin

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Women who are pregnant deserve quality care and non-judgemental support throughout all three trimesters. They should also care for themselves mentally and physically to promote their and the baby’s health.

There are steps you can take to reduce the risk of pregnancy complications. Follow these steps and choose an experienced, qualified doctor you feel comfortable talking to and who talks openly with you. This can help you have a happier, healthier pregnancy. 

Close up of the belly of a pregnant woman in a pink dress holding her stomach.
Close up of the belly of a pregnant woman in a pink dress holding her stomach.

Conduct Research To Find a Qualified Health Care Provider

Talk to friends, family, and your primary care doctor to help find the right OB-GYN, and follow up on their suggestions with your own research. You can use online ratings for doctors and look at any testimonials or reviews on their websites. You can also take advantage of state resources to help you choose.

For example, expectant mothers seeking a doctor in Florida can use the Department of Health online license verification form. The results include a doctor’s license status, disciplinary actions, and public complaints. You can also see if they have previous lawsuits and where there were payouts associated with those cases. Ask prospective doctors if they are active in professional organizations, such as by attending conferences.

Also, meet with prospective doctors to see if you are a good fit. Good communication in both directions is essential to the health of you and your baby, as you must rely on your doctor for advice and feel comfortable asking questions throughout your pregnancy. We believe it is important to feel comfortable with your physician and their staff.


Get Regular Prenatal Check-Ups

Regular prenatal check-ups are critical for the prevention of birth injury and other complications. Understanding what happens at prenatal checkups at each stage of your pregnancy helps prepare you for visits and ask the right questions of your doctor. 

OB-GYN and a pregnant patient talking in a doctors office

First Trimester Prenatal Check-Ups

Choose your doctor and schedule your first visit as soon as you find out you are pregnant. Your prenatal care in the first trimester starts with bloodwork, a Pap smear, and cultures to check for infections or other problems. Your doctor will ask questions about your overall health, family history, and risk factors.

You will also begin discussing proper diet and nutrition and potential problems such as fatigue, heartburn, varicose veins, morning sickness, and other common pregnancy symptoms. Knowing these symptoms and how often they should occur can help tell you when something seems wrong.

Second Trimester Prenatal Check-Ups

Your second-trimester prenatal care includes monthly prenatal appointments. Talk to your doctor again about your symptoms, including the onset of back or other pain.

Your doctor will weigh you, check your blood pressure, and measure your abdomen. You should talk to your doctor about any concerns you have about your health in case it can affect your baby.

About 20 weeks in, you’ll have an ultrasound, blood testing, and genetic testing. These help detect problems such as abnormalities or potential genetics-related health issues.

Ultrasound tech using ultrasound machine on a pregnant woman

Third Trimester Prenatal Check-Ups

Your third-trimester prenatal care visits are generally every two weeks until your doctor recommends weekly visits. You will have continued blood pressure, weight, and other monitoring, plus a test for group B strep infection. Your doctor will also check your baby’s movement, and you can help by tracking them between visits.

Talk to your OB-GYN about your concerns if you feel you are not getting proper prenatal care. Babies of mothers who do not get good prenatal care are five times more likely to pass away and three times more likely to have a low birth weight. Regular prenatal care allows your doctor to intervene quickly when there are problems.


Follow Health Care Provider Nutrition, Weight Gain, and Exercise Recommendations

Your weight gain recommendations during pregnancy depend on your body weight and body mass index before pregnancy and whether you have one or multiple babies. Following recommendations is important because too little weight gain is associated with undersized babies, and too much weight gain can lead to heavy babies, delivery complications, and cesarean delivery.

Talk to your doctor about your caloric needs in each trimester to avoid a high-risk pregnancy. Typically, you don’t need extra calories in the first trimester, but you need about 340 additional in the second and about 450 in the third.

You should get about 30 minutes daily or 150 minutes a week of moderate exercise during pregnancy. Always talk to your doctor about your exercise routine, and be sure to stay well-hydrated and pay attention to how you feel.

Woman holding a healthy drink to her lips that is pregnant

Choose a Healthy Diet and Supplements Your Baby Needs

It is critical to protect you and your baby throughout your pregnancy by eating healthy. Limit sugar and solid fat intake and eat a diet high in vegetables, fruits, lean proteins, whole grains, and low-fat dairy. 

Keep a food journal to help you track your intake, and share it with your doctor, who may make specific dietary suggestions as you advance in your pregnancy. For example, they might recommend more seafood with healthy fats but low in mercury. They will also warn you of certain foods, such as raw meat, fish or eggs, high-sodium foods, and raw sprouts.

Part of good nutrition during pregnancy involves taking prenatal vitamins and other supplements your doctor recommends. Prenatal supplements help you get critical vitamins, such as calcium, iron, iodine, and folic acid. Failure to take prenatal vitamins can result in neural tube defects, hypertension, preeclampsia, poor bone development, and other problems.


Avoid Certain Over-the-Counter Drugs

It can be challenging to sort out the advice you receive about over-the-counter medications, so listen to your doctor. There is often not enough research to come to clear conclusions because of the ethical concerns involved in experimentation with pregnant women and fetuses. However, there are some drugs with a significant amount of evidence about their chance for harm.

The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecologists warns against the use of the antihistamine pseudoephedrine during the first three months of pregnancy. The drug has been linked to a risk of abdominal wall congenital disabilities.

The FDA warns against using nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, such as aspirin, ibuprofen, and naproxen, from about the 20th week of pregnancy. Using them can lead to low levels of amniotic fluid or kidney problems and other complications.

There is ongoing federal multidistrict litigation regarding the use of Tylenol during pregnancy. Close to 400 plaintiffs claim that their children developed autism spectrum disorder or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder after their mothers took acetaminophen, the primary ingredient in Tylenol.

There is a lot of information and misinformation about using over-the-counter drugs during pregnancy. Avoid those with sufficient warnings, and talk to your doctor about others before you take them.


Get Gestational Diabetes Screening

Women who do not produce enough insulin when they are pregnant may develop gestational diabetes. It affects about two to 10 percent of pregnancies, and managing it is critical. Gestational diabetes can lead to increased blood pressure during pregnancy, a complicated or premature delivery, low blood sugar, and a risk of the baby developing type 2 diabetes later in life. 

OB-GYN taking blood from a pregnant woman, running routine bloodwork for a safe pregnancy

Some of the risk factors for gestational diabetes include previous diabetes diagnoses during pregnancy, a previous birth over nine pounds, being overweight, and a family history of type 2 diabetes. Women with gestational diabetes don’t typically show any symptoms. You can try to prevent gestational diabetes before becoming pregnant by losing weight but don’t do so if you are already pregnant. Talk to your doctor about how much weight gain is enough but not too much to keep you and your baby healthy.

Your doctor should start testing you for the condition around the 24th week of pregnancy. If your doctor fails to diagnose gestational diabetes appropriately, you may have a legal case. 

OB-GYN taking blood from a pregnant woman, running routine bloodwork for a safe pregnancy

Manage Chronic Conditions

Some chronic conditions cause riskier pregnancies, and it’s critical that you properly monitor and manage them. Some maternal chronic conditions that cause high-risk pregnancies include the following:

If you feel your doctor mismanaged your chronic conditions during your pregnancy and potentially caused harm to you or your baby, contact our Florida birth injury attorneys at Freedland Harwin Valori Gander for a free case evaluation.


Take Care of Your Emotional and Mental Health and Reduce Stress 

Poor stress management, inadequate coping mechanisms, high blood pressure, and other related factors can negatively affect fetal development and the mother’s health. Women who experience depression and anxiety during pregnancy are at risk of suicide, overdose, poisoning, and mental health-related unintentional injuries.

Untreated depression and anxiety during pregnancy can also cause women to skip prenatal care, use drugs or alcohol, and fail to attach properly to their babies. Understand that mental health problems are not your fault. Depression and anxiety are illnesses, and women who have them and other mental health disorders deserve treatment, not judgment.

You can take steps to help yourself relax during pregnancy, such as going for walks, cooking new, healthy dishes, or spending time with friends. It is easy to stop doing these things when you become pregnant, but re-engaging can help with your mental health.

You can also talk to family members, your partner, or a therapist. If you need additional help, the Department of Health and Human Services offers a maternal mental health line at 1-833-TLC-MAMA (1-833-852-6262). Never be afraid to reach out for help.


Stay Active

You can boost your mood, sharpen your focus, reduce stress, and improve your sleep by staying active during pregnancy. Listen to your body if it tells you to slow down, and talk to your OB-GYN during prenatal visits to discuss your routine.

There are prenatal workouts for each trimester of pregnancy. Walking is a good exercise for pregnant women, though you may have to slow from a brisk walk to a slower pace as your pregnancy progresses. Swimming is an excellent exercise during all three trimesters of pregnancy, and just being in the water will help remove some of the pressure of the baby’s weight.

Talk to your OB-GYN about types of strength exercises that are safe. They may recommend specific exercises, such as back muscle strengthening or prenatal yoga, to fit your needs. Do not engage in any contact sports or do exercises lying on your back once you reach your second trimester.


Learn About Pain Management During Labor

Labor can be very painful, and while some mothers choose natural childbirth, you may decide to use medication to manage your pain. There are some side effects and potential risks of pain mitigation.

Your doctor may administer an epidural injection in your back to block pain in certain parts of your body. There is a risk of possible complications and some serious risks, but generally, epidurals are safe. Possible complications include low blood pressure, itchy skin, headaches, and, in very rare cases, blood clots, infection, and nerve damage.

Pregnant woman in a bright hospital room, holding her stomach.
Pregnant woman in a bright hospital room, holding her stomach.

Other medications your doctor may approve for pain management during labor include analgesics such as opioids through a shot or IV, nitrous oxide, and local or general anesthesia.

Regardless of your type of pain management, your doctor, anesthesiologist, or other health care professionals must monitor you closely to watch for side effects and act quickly if you or your baby are in distress.

If your doctor administered pain medication or anesthesia during your labor and you believe that you or the baby were harmed because they didn’t watch you closely enough, contact a negligent fetal monitoring attorney from Freedland Harwin Valori Gander.

Ask For Legal Advice if You or Your Baby Were Harmed

Pregnancy and birth are times of joy but also great worry about potential complications. Be sure to stick to your prenatal care schedule. Additionally, talk openly and honestly to your doctor about your eating habits, lifestyle choices, exercise regimen, and whether you are taking prenatal supplements and following other advice.

If you have problems related to your medical care during your pregnancy or the birthing process, contact Freedland Harwin Valori Gander for a free legal consultation with our personal injury attorneys.