What is Prenatal Care?

Staying as healthy as possible during pregnancy is the best way to ensure you have a healthy baby. The sooner you can begin prenatal care, and start receiving regular care from your obstetrician, the greater the chance of having a healthy pregnancy. Ideally, this care can begin before you even conceive, so if you do want a baby, schedule a visit to your health care provider for a complete preconception checkup.

Why Should I See a Health Care Provider Before I Become Pregnant?

Seeing your healthcare provider before you try for a baby will help ensure you are healthy enough to carry a child. Your healthcare provider can assist you in numerous ways by assessing your family health history and the health history of your partner. They can check your immunizations are up-to-date and that any medical conditions are well-controlled. Your doctor can talk to you about whether to increase or start taking various vitamins, for example, folic acid.

They can also discuss general health with you, for example making sure you are a healthy weight, will provide information about which foods to eat and which to avoid during pregnancy, and can help you avoid alcohol, smoking, and drugs.

However, if you don’t manage to see your doctor before you become pregnant, don’t panic but do make sure you schedule a visit as soon as you can. If you aren’t satisfied with your current doctor, make sure you research and investigate other health care professionals as, after all, it’s your baby’s health and wellbeing at stake.

  • How Your Healthcare Provider Can Help You During Your Pregnancy

Most women will thankfully enjoy very healthy pregnancies, but babies born to mothers who fail to get prenatal care are more at risk of being a low birth weight. Also, prenatal care will detect any potential health problems such as pre-eclampsia, gestational diabetes, or anemia. All these conditions can be successfully treated when diagnosed soon enough.

  • Ensuring You Get the Right Nutrients during Pregnancy

During pregnancy, your diet is crucial for your health and the health of your baby. You may need to change your diet to ensure it meets the nutritional needs of the fetus. You will find your obstetrician or healthcare provider can give you lots of useful advice about which foods you should eat, and which foods you shouldn’t eat. For example, did you realize blue cheese dressing, hot dogs and even lunch meat should be avoided during pregnancy? Also, if you thought you could enjoy eating for two, then there some bad news! For a successful and healthy pregnancy, you only need about 300 extra calories each day.

  • Checking Your Baby’s Development

As your pregnancy progresses, your healthcare provider can keep track of your baby’s development during your prenatal visits. Your baby’s rate of growth is a critical factor in how well they are doing. Their growth may be measured using ultrasound, or even by simply measuring the belly from the top of your pubic bone to the sternum. These measurements will be taken regularly to check your baby’s development, and of course, they can tell you the baby’s gender unless you prefer to keep it as a surprise.

  • Deciding If You Need Any Additional Tests

At your initial visit, your doctor or obstetrician may talk to you about various tests, depending on your family history and your medical history, and your age. For example, an amniocentesis test can be completed during the second trimester and will check for genetic abnormalities. It is also used to monitor other things including infections, and to assess the maturity of your baby’s lungs. Without regular prenatal care, you may miss out on some tests that could be essential for your situation.

  • Planning for Labor and Delivery

Creating your labor and delivery plan is something you can do with your partner, but the details of this plan will depend on the information you receive about labor and delivery procedures. Your prenatal visits offer the ideal opportunity for you to discuss possible procedures and delivery plans, and to voice any concerns you may have. Your obstetrician will be able to answer all your questions, hopefully reassuring you and allowing you to create the best labor and delivery plan for your needs.

With the right prenatal care, you will hopefully sail through pregnancy, enjoying the process until it is time to welcome your new baby into the world.

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