Prenatal Care: Give Your Baby the Best Possible Start in Life
Why Prenatal Care Matters
Ideally, prenatal care should have begun even before you became pregnant. You should ensure you are fit, healthy and able to carry a baby full term. When you first visit your physician, you can gain lots of useful information about fertility and conception, as well as what to expect during early pregnancy.
As your pregnancy continues, you will need regular appointments to ensure both you and your baby are healthy. These appointments are about far more than just ensuring you have good medical health as prenatal care includes valuable education about pregnancy and childbirth. Your physician will be able to offer support and even counseling if required.
You are bound to have lots of questions during this time and these appointments are your chance to get the information you need.
By regularly seeing your physician, any problems that pop up can be quickly detected. This allows early treatment to be provided. This can cure many problems and may prevent others from developing.
Women who don’t receive prenatal care has been monitored to be three times more probable to have low birthweight babies. Additionally, they are more likely to suffer severely or even die compared to women who do receive prenatal care.
What to Expect during Your First Prenatal Visit?
During your first prenatal visit your pregnancy will be confirmed, plus, your physician will want to determine your general health. They will need to know your medical history, as well as the medical history of close family members. This is because some diseases, especially diabetes, could affect your prenatal care and you may require closer monitoring.
The idea of this initial visit is to assess if you have any risk factors for your pregnancy based on your age, current health and your personal, in addition to family medical history. You can also expect to receive a full pelvic exam and Pap smear, as well as blood tests and you will need to provide a urine specimen.
During your physical exam, your blood pressure, heart, and lungs will be checked, and you will be weighed. After this initial visit, you will probably need monthly checkups during the early stages, but as your pregnancy progresses your physician will need to see you more often and the best offices will have a 24-hour answering service, just in case you need help or advice immediately.
Taking Care of Yourself during Pregnancy
It doesn’t matter if it is your first pregnancy or if you already have a whole brood of kids, healthcare is still extremely important. Your physician can advise you on which vitamins to take during pregnancy and folic acid with is particularly important during the early stages. Aim to eat a healthy diet with plenty of iron as this will help prevent anemia which has been linked to low birthweight and preterm babies.
Eating a good variety of foods will help provide all the nutrients your baby needs, but steer clear of undercooked or raw meats and fish. Your doctor can also advise you on any medications you currently use as some are not safe during pregnancy.
However, you should always check with your medical professional before stopping any medications. Bear in mind that even over-the-counter products and herbal medicines could cause unwanted side effects. Nonetheless, failing to take medications that have been prescribed for you could also be harmful.
Be prepared to gain a healthy amount of weight. Your physician can advise you on what to aim for and unless advised otherwise, take moderate exercise. If you exercised regularly before becoming pregnant then it should be fine to keep up your activity level, provided your physician gives you the go-ahead.
Try, if possible to keep stress levels to a minimum and get plenty of sleep as it will soon become a luxury! A warm bath is a great way to unwind, but avoid very hot baths, saunas, and hot tubs.
If you can, get a full dental checkup before you become pregnant, otherwise, visit your dentist as soon as you can once your pregnancy is confirmed. You will need to continue having regular checkups and cleanings during pregnancy as this will protect your health and the health of your baby. You can still safely receive routine dental care during pregnancy, your dentist will ensure any treatment provided will not harm your baby.