Expertise for the Expecting – LiveUp Live Chat Sneak Peek
On April 30, Mercy Medical Center will be providing moms and moms-to-be with a unique opportunity to pose their most burning questions to our doctors, with a special focus on high-risk pregnancies.
The live, online chat will feature Dr. Sara Schutte, a Mercy pediatrician with more than 20 years’ experience, and Dr. Jona Conklin, a perinatalogist specializing in maternal-fetal medicine. Our doctors will address everything you ever wondered or worried about when it comes to healthy pregnancies and deliveries.
Following our high-risk pregnancy discussion, the Mercy experts will also cover:
- Pregnancy A to Z: If you’re expecting or thinking about having a baby, our specialists will answer your questions on topics like prenatal nutrition, exercise, and traditional and nontraditional delivery techniques.
- Parenting at the speed of life: From 0 to 12 months in minutes. Our pediatric expert shares her insights on raising healthy infants and what you need to know for baby’s first year.
Quick Q&A with the Dr. Conklin and Dr. Schutte
What attracted you to perinatology?
Dr. Conklin: I liked the complexity of MFM (maternal-fetal medicine) and the ability to share in some great and some not-so-great times in patients’ lives.
What are some misconceptions about pregnancy and birth that you have heard? Can you explain the truth behind those misconceptions?
Dr. Conklin: There are too many to list here. But the biggest misconception is that patients know better about how to take care of their labor and birth than doctors. Yes, there are some bad doctors out there, and yes, there are some out there who don’t do the right things. But most doctors want the same things you want and are open to discussing your desires within the realm of safety. The OB doctor is not there to ruin your birth experience.
When should women see a perinatologist? Should a pregnant woman always see a perinatologist?
Dr. Conklin: Women should see a perinatologist if they have preexisting medical problems including (but not limited to) diabetes, hypertension, lupus and blood clots. Or if they have had an adverse pregnancy outcome before like preterm birth, early preeclampsia or a baby with an anomaly or chromosome abnormality. Preferably you would see us for these problems BEFORE you plan to get pregnant, but a consult during the early portion of pregnancy is acceptable too. You may also be sent to see us if things pop up during your pregnancy, including ultrasound abnormalities or other concerns.
What attracted you to pediatrics?
Dr. Schutte: I was able to work with a local pediatrician here in Des Moines when I was in medical school. He was kind, compassionate and knowledgeable. He treated his patients with such respect and caring; he always took time to answer all of the parents’ questions no matter how trivial. I felt a connection with the little patients that I had not felt before, and I knew that I wanted to emulate him in my practice.
What things can a woman expect that may be initially alarming?
Dr. Schutte: Many parents find many things surprising and perhaps alarming within the first several weeks of a baby’s life. The most important aspect to remember is that they are not alone in their resources or support. Extended families, medical personnel, and published literature are all available to [reference] for questions and concerns. Most important point is that if an issue is alarming, resources can assist in reassurance of parents.
What types of things should a mother whom is breastfeeding be eating?
Dr. Schutte: Mom should eat [a] good variety of fruits and vegetables as well as protein sources. Breast-feeding moms need to take in 500 calories more per day than previous to pregnancy (during pregnancy, she should eat 300 more than baseline). Mom should continue to take her prenatal vitamins and take 60 or more ounces of fluids per day. Moms should not try to restrict their diets at this point in [an] attempt to lose pregnancy weight. If they have any other dietary restrictions (celiac disease, vegan diets, etc.), they should discuss these with their doctor in order to optimize nutrients for both mom and baby.
Knowledge can make you feel secure when you’re navigating new territory. Whether it comes from a dear friend or a recommended book, arming yourself with the right kind of insight may be the mental safety net you desire. For new moms, Dr. Schutte recommends The Baby Book by Dr. William Sears, The Happiest Baby on the Block by Dr. Harvey Karp, and Your Child’s Health by Dr. Barton Schmitt.
Dr. Conklin has her own advice regarding a very popular pregnancy book still on the shelves. “Stay away from What to Expect When You’re Expecting,” she says. “It’s a nightmare and will make you think something is wrong constantly. Instead of books, join a group or blog like TheBump.com to chat with and hear from other expectant moms.”
Pregnancy and new motherhood can be full of uncertainty, challenges and questions. What symptoms are normal? What does an emergency look like? What classes would be beneficial to take? What things should you ask your doctor?
“Just relax,” Dr. Conklin says. “You’ll be fine and so will your baby. Nearly everything is normal in pregnancy including some weird, gross things!”
Those words are easier said than done for many mothers, but it is necessary to keep in mind that nearly all of the symptoms that you are experiencing are typical.
“Make sure you spend time enjoying your baby,” says Dr. Schutte. “It is very easy to get overwhelmed with data and expectations and not see how wonderful your baby is and how fast this time passes.”
“Be flexible,” adds Dr. Conklin, “and trust your doctor or nurse.”
About the Experts:
Dr. Conklin is a perinatalogist, specializing in maternal-fetal medicine. She joined Mercy’s Perinatal Center of Iowa (PCI) in fall 2014, after being on staff at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics. A native of Des Moines, Dr. Conklin received her medical degree from the University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine. She completed a residency in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston, S.C., and was also named chief resident during her final year in the program. Dr. Conklin also completed a fellowship in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Division of Maternal-Fetal Medicine at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics. She is board-certified in obstetrics and gynecology and board-eligible in maternal-fetal medicine. Dr. Conklin is a mother to a 1-year-old daughter.
Dr. Schutte is a pediatrician at Mercy North Pediatric Clinic in Ankeny. She joined Mercy in 1994, and prior to that had been on staff at Bilgi Children’s Clinic in Ankeny. Dr. Schutte received a doctor of osteopathy degree from University of Osteopathic Medicine and Health Sciences, now Des Moines University. She completed a residency at Blank Children’s Hospital before going into private practice. Dr. Schutte is board-certified by the American Board of Pediatrics.