Prenatal Health Care
Regular prenatal care is key to the protection of your baby’s health. Call your doctor if you suspect you are pregnant to make your first prenatal appointment. If there is a problem, most health care providers will not schedule your first prenatal appointment before 8 weeks.
Your first visit will likely include a pregnancy test. This is based on your physical exam and your last period. This information will be used to predict when your baby will arrive. An ultrasound taken later in pregnancy will confirm this ).
Most health care providers will see you if you are healthy and have no other risk factors.
- Every 4 Weeks until the 28th Week of Pregnancy
- then every 2 weeks until 36 weeks
- then once a week until delivery
Your health care provider will monitor your weight and blood pressure throughout your pregnancy. They also check the growth and development and your baby’s progress by measuring your belly, feeling your abdomen and listening to the heartbeat of your baby. Prenatal tests will be performed throughout your pregnancy. These include blood, urine and cervical tests.
You have many options when it comes to choosing a healthcare provider who will counsel you and treat your pregnancy.
- obstetricians/gynaecologists (also known as OB/GYNs): doctors who specialize in pregnancy and childbirth, as well as women’s health care
- Family Practitioners: Doctors who offer a variety of services to patients of all ages, including obstetric care.
- Certified nurse-midwives are advanced practice nurses who specialize in women’s healthcare needs. They can provide prenatal and labour care as well as postpartum care for simple pregnancies. You can also find other types of midwives but it is best to choose one who has been trained and certified in this field.
Any of these options are good choices if you’re healthy and don’t anticipate any complications during pregnancy or delivery. If an unplanned problem occurs or a Cesarean section (C-section), a nurse-midwife must have a doctor on hand.
Nutrition and Supplements
You’re now able to eat for two or more. This is not the right time to eat less or lose weight. You need 300 more calories per day, especially if your baby is growing quickly. You’ll need more if you are very thin, active, or have multiple children. Your health care provider might recommend that you eat fewer calories if you are overweight.
It is important to eat healthy, especially during pregnancy. You should ensure that your baby gets enough nutrition from healthy foods.
Follow the guidelines for a healthy diet.
- lean meats
- whole-grain bread
- low-fat dairy products
You’ll be more likely to get the nutrients that you need if you eat a balanced, healthy diet. You will require more nutrients, especially calcium, iron and folic acid, than you did before becoming pregnant. Prenatal vitamins will be prescribed by your health care provider to ensure that you and your baby get enough.
Prenatal vitamins don’t mean that you have to eat a low-nutrient diet. You still need to eat healthy while you are pregnant. Prenatal vitamins are intended to complement your diet, but they are not meant to replace your main source of nutrients.
Women aged 19 or older, including pregnant women, don’t get the recommended daily intake of 1,000 mg calcium. To prevent calcium loss from your bones, your baby’s growing needs for calcium are very high. Prenatal vitamins may also be prescribed by your doctor, which could include additional calcium.
These are good sources of calcium:
- Low-fat dairy products, including pasteurized cheese and milk, as well as yoghurt
- Calcium-fortified Products, such as orange juice, soymilk, and cereals
- dark green vegetables including spinach, kale, and broccoli
- dried beans
Women who are pregnant need around 30mg of iron per day. Why? Iron is required to make haemoglobin (the oxygen-carrying component in red blood cells). To deliver oxygen to all cells, red blood cells circulate throughout your body.
The body won’t be able to make enough red blood cells or tissues without iron. Organs won’t have the oxygen they need. Pregnant women must ensure that they get enough iron in daily meals — both for their babies and themselves.
Iron can be found in many foods but iron from meat is more readily absorbed than iron from plant foods. Iron-rich foods include:
- red meat
- dark poultry
- enriched grains
- dried beans and peas
- dried fruits
- dark leafy green vegetables
- blackstrap molasses
- Iron-fortified Breakfast Cereals
Folate (Folic Acid)
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that every woman of childbearing age, especially those who are planning a pregnancy, consume 400 micrograms (0.4 mg) of folic acids supplements daily. This can be taken as a multivitamin, or folic acids supplement.
Why is folic acid important? Folic acid supplements taken 1 month prior to and during the first 3 months after conception can reduce the chance of developing neural tube defects.
The neural tube, which is formed in the first few weeks of pregnancy and can be seen before a woman knows that she’s pregnant, goes on to become the developing brain and spinal chord. A neural tube defect, such as spina fidea, occurs when the neural tube fails to form properly.
Your health care provider may recommend a prenatal vitamin with the correct amount of Folic Acid. A few pregnancy health professionals recommend that pregnant women take an additional folic acid supplement, particularly if they have had a previous child with a neural tube defect.
When you buy an over-the-counter multivitamin, keep in mind that while most multivitamins do contain folic acid but not all have enough to meet the nutritional requirements of pregnant women. Before you buy any multivitamins, make sure to read the labels and consult your doctor.
Drinking plenty of fluids, particularly water, is important during pregnancy. Women’s blood volume is increased dramatically during pregnancy. Drinking enough water daily can prevent common problems like constipation and dehydration.
If you aren’t already very active or engaged in vigorous-intensity activities, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends that you do at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise each week.
You may be able continue your exercise routine if you were very active before getting pregnant. Talk to your doctor before you start or continue any exercise program.
It is extremely beneficial to exercise during pregnancy. Regular exercise can be very beneficial:
- prevent excess weight gain
- Reduce pregnancy-related issues, such as back pain, swelling and constipation
- improve sleep
- Increase energy
- boost your mood
- Prepare your body for work
- Shorten the recovery time after the birth
Walking and swimming are excellent options for low-impact, moderate intensity exercise. Yoga and Pilates classes, videos or apps that are tailored to pregnant women can be tried. These classes are low-impact and focus on strength, flexibility, relaxation, and coordination.
High-impact aerobics should be avoided and you should avoid activities that could cause injury to your abdomen or fall. Contact sports, horseback riding, scuba diving and downhill skiing are all examples.
It is also important to pay attention to how your body changes. Relaxin is a hormone that your body produces during pregnancy. Relaxin is believed to prepare the pubic region and the cervix for giving birth. Relaxin causes your body to become less stable and more susceptible to injury by loosing its ligaments.
It’s easy to strain or overstretch yourself, especially your pelvis, lower back and knees. As your pregnancy progresses your centre of gravity shifts. This can lead to you feeling off-balance or at risk of falling. These are important factors to consider when choosing an activity. Don’t do it too often.
No matter what type of exercise, take plenty of breaks and drink lots of fluids. If you feel short of breath, slow down or stop. Talk to your doctor if you have questions about participating in any sport or activity during pregnancy.
You should get enough sleep throughout your pregnancy. You will likely feel tired more than usual. As your baby grows, it will be more difficult to find a comfortable place to sleep.
As your pregnancy progresses, you will find that lying on your back with your knees bent is the most comfortable position. This position makes it easier for your heart to work because the baby’s weight doesn’t put pressure on the blood vessels that transport blood from your feet and heart. You can reduce swelling, varicose veins and haemorrhoids by lying on your side.
Doctors recommend that pregnant women lie on their left side. Since one of the big blood vessels in your abdomen is on your right side, it helps to keep your uterus from lying on your left side. Your baby’s placenta will be nourished by blood flowing to your left side if you lie on your left.
Ask your doctor for advice. Most people can lie on one side or the other and relieve pressure from your back. For a more comfortable sleeping position, place pillows under your belly, between your legs and behind your back.
Avoid These Things
What you put in your body or expose it to is just as important as what your do. Here are some things you should avoid:
It may seem safe to drink a glass of wine with dinner, or to share a beer with friends. However, there is no way to know what the “safe” amount of alcohol you should consume during pregnancy. Alcohol can lead to severe abnormalities in the developing foetus, one of the most prevalent causes of congenital mental and physical disabilities.
The baby is less able to detoxify alcohol than their mother, so alcohol is easy to pass on to them. Unborn babies are more likely to have a higher level of alcohol than their mothers. This means that the baby will be exposed to alcohol for longer periods of time. A baby’s nervous system can be damaged by moderate alcohol consumption, or occasional binging.
Don’t worry if you had a few drinks before you knew you were pregnant. This is common for many women. Your best option is to avoid alcohol for the remainder of your pregnancy.
Women who are pregnant and use drugs could put their babies at high risk of poor growth, premature birth, learning disabilities, behavior problems, and congenital disabilities. Their babies may also become addicted to these drugs.
A Planned Parenthood health clinic can refer you to health care professionals who can help you stop using drugs and get a better pregnancy.
It is important to tell your doctor if you have ever used drugs during pregnancy. Your unborn child may still be at risk of health problems even if you have stopped using drugs.
Smoking can cause nicotine and carbon monoxide poisoning in pregnant women. These are the risks:
- low birth weight
- sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS)
- Asthma and other respiratory issues in children
Smoking might make it easier to quit. Talk to your doctor about the best ways to quit smoking.
High caffeine intake has been associated with an increased risk for miscarriage.
Are you having trouble cutting out coffee cold turkey? Here’s how to do it:
- Reduce your daily intake to just one or two cups
- Combine regular coffee with caffeine to gradually reduce your intake of caffeine.
- Try to quit regular coffee eventually.
Remember that caffeine does not only come from coffee. Caffeine is found in many soft drinks, including colas and teas. You can switch to decaffeinated or caffeine-free products.
You don’t have to avoid chocolate because it contains caffeine. The average chocolate bar contains 5-30 milligrams of caffeine. A cup of brewed coffee has 95-135 milligrams. Small amounts of chocolate can be fine.
Food Smarts and Other Precautions
While you should eat lots of healthy foods during pregnancy you must also avoid food-borne diseases such as listriosis or toxoplasmosis. These can pose a serious threat to unborn babies and cause miscarriage or congenital disabilities.
- Soft, unpasteurized, unpasteurized cheeses (often called “fresh”) such a feta, goat and Brie, Camembert and blue cheese
- Unpasteurized Milk, Juices and Apple Cider
- Raw eggs or foods containing eggs, such as mousse, tiramisu and raw cookie dough, as well Caesar dressing (although some dressings sold in stores may not contain raw egg).
- raw, undercooked or undercooked meats, fish or shellfish
- Processed meats, such as hot dogs or deli meats, (except when they are reheated to steaming)
Shellfish and fish can be a healthy part of your pregnancies diet. They contain omega-3 fatty acid and are high protein. However,
- king mackerel
- tuna steak (bigeye or ahi)
- orange roughy
These fish can contain high levels mercury which could cause brain damage in a developing baby. Limit the amount of seafood you eat to 12 ounces per week. That’s roughly two meals. Pay attention to the type of canned tuna if you love canned tuna. Canned light tuna is usually smaller and can be consumed twice per week. Albacore/white tuna is larger and should be consumed only once per week. Before you eat recreationally caught fish, make sure to check any local advisories.
Changing the litter Box
It’s the best time of your life to stop cleaning out your cat’s litter box. Why? Toxoplasmosis is spread via contaminated cat litter boxes. It can cause severe problems such as prematurity, poor growth and severe eye and brain damage. While pregnant women who are infected may not experience any symptoms, they can transmit the infection to their baby.
Prescription Medicines and Over-the-Counter
Common over-the-counter medications that are generally safe can be dangerous for the baby and should not be used during pregnancy. Some prescription medications can also be harmful to the unborn baby.
You want to make sure that you aren’t giving your baby anything that could cause harm:
- Discuss with your doctor which prescription and over-the-counter medicines are safe for you to use during pregnancy.
- Discuss any prescription drugs with your doctor.
- Tell all your doctors and nurses that you are pregnant. They will keep this in mind when prescribing or recommending any medications.
- It is also important to mention natural remedies, vitamins, and supplements.
Talk to your doctor if you have been prescribed medication before you become pregnant. They can help you evaluate the benefits and risks involved in continuing your prescription.
Talk to your doctor if you get sick, such as a cold or other symptoms that cause discomfort or pain.
Healthy Pregnancy Habits – From Start to Finish
It’s crucial to take care yourself from the beginning of your pregnancy through the last week. Many women claim that pregnancy is the best time to feel healthier.