Good prenatal care leads to a healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby. Prenatal care or antenatal care is preventive healthcare whose goal is to provide regular check-ups at proper time intervals during the complete term of pregnancy.
It allows doctors or midwives to treat and prevent potential health problems throughout the course of the pregnancy and to promote healthy lifestyles that benefit both mother and child.
What to expect from first visit to doctor?
A complete body check-up is done by a doctor on your first visit to know about any potential risks, complications or medical history. Urine and blood samples will be taken on the first visit. The same tests are done again in later months. Urine tests check for bacteria, high sugar levels (which can be a sign of diabetes), and high protein levels (which can be a sign for preeclampsia, a type of high blood pressure during pregnancy). Blood tests check for blood cell count, blood type, low iron levels (anemia) and infectious diseases (such as syphilis, HIV, and hepatitis). The doctor may also do other tests on your first visit. These may vary based on your background and risk for problems. Once you get the reports, the doctor starts treatment accordingly.
Taking care during pregnancy:
Eat healthily: Keep a watch on what you are eating. Try having a balanced diet. Don’t skip meals. Just try to replace with healthy things. Include dairy products, fruits, vegetables, and protein-rich food. Try to include different colors in your plate. This means having diverse nutrients in your diet. As far as food cravings is concerned, have everything you feel like eating, even if it is junk food, but always in moderation. Try to replace junk food with healthier options. At times you will feel hunger pangs, try to eat fruits, dry fruits, or any other healthy food instead of eating junk food.
Staying hydrated is very important. You may dislike plain water at times. You can drink flavored water (lime, fruit infused water), clear juices or coconut water to replace water. It is important to maintain a good hydration routine for proper maintenance of amniotic fluid sac.
Take prenatal vitamins/ supplements:
You need folic acid for the first three months of your pregnancy. It helps to prevent neural tube defects (NTDs) – serious birth defects of the spinal cord (such as spina bifida) and the brain (such as anencephaly). Calcium and most of the times iron tablet is given for all nine months of pregnancy. Calcium is essential for the development of healthy bones and teeth in the fetus, a shortfall should not be allowed. Iron helps to lower the risk of anemia in mother during pregnancy. Supplements during pregnancy, however, should always be taken on advice from your obstetrician/gynecologist.
Exercise and stay active:
A good exercise program can give you the strength and endurance you'll need to carry the weight you gain during pregnancy, help prevent or ease aches and pains, helps you to cope with changes to your posture and strains on your joints during pregnancy and help you handle the physical stress of labor. Exercising while you are pregnant while you are pregnant makes labor and delivery easier as it increases your chance of straightforward labor and birth. It helps to protect you against pregnancy complications, such as high blood pressure, makes it easier for you to get back into shape after your baby is born and boosts your mood if you are feeling low. Brisk walking is the best option. You can opt for yoga and Pilates also but under the guidance of an instructor.
Cut back caffeine:
Caffeine is in products like coffee, tea, cola, chocolate and energy drinks. It is advised to limit your daily consumption to 200mg of caffeine during pregnancy. This should include all of the caffeine in your diet, not just the cups of coffee. Too much caffeine may increase your risk of miscarriage. Some experts have suggested that too much caffeine may contribute to your risk of having a low-birth-weight baby, although it is an area of some more research. If you are willing to cut out caffeine you can replace it with herbal tea, more water and exerting less. The most important thing is your determination which helps you to overcome the caffeine craving.
Read relevant books to clear the misconceptions and getting informed about your body changes and what to expect. Consult your doctor for any doubts. Even if it is your second pregnancy, get your facts together and brush your knowledge. Staying informed with the right things will help you to take care of your infant properly and confidently.
Track Your Weight Gain:
Although you're eating for two, packing on too many extra pounds may increase your blood sugar levels which is not safe during pregnancy or delivery. It also is hard to lose later. At the same time, not gaining enough weight can put the baby at risk for a low-weight birth, a major cause of developmental problems. So know about the weight window according to your BMI and balance your diet and exercise accordingly. Check in with your doctor frequently to make sure you're gaining at a healthy rate.
It is very important to buy comfortable foot-ware as your feet are going to bear your weight. Buy a good pair of shoes and few flats so that there is no strain on your feet. You may retain fluids, too, which can make your feet and ankles swell. So it's important to wear comfortable, non-restricting shoes when you're pregnant. And be sure to put your feet up several times a day to prevent fatigue and swelling of the feet, legs, and ankles.
Also, invest in a few maternity clothes which also support breastfeeding after baby is born. Buy comfortable clothes and look out for soft material.
Kegel exercises strengthen the pelvic floor muscles, which support your bladder, bowels, and uterus. Done correctly, this simple exercise can help make your delivery easier and prevent problems later with incontinence.
Once the baby comes you'll have fewer precious moments to yourself. Make sure to invest some time in taking care of yourself. Get at least eight hours of sleep a night, and if you're suffering from sleep disturbances, take naps during the day and see your physician if the situation doesn't improve. A lunchtime manicure, spending time with friends, listening to your favorite music, watching movies or simply taking a quiet walk can help you relax and de-stress. Being calm, relaxed and happy is good for both you and the baby.
Also read: Prenatal Yoga: For a Blissful Pregnancy!