Taking care of you and your baby while you’re pregnant
Prenatal care is extremely important because it reduces the risk of pregnancy-related complications such as anaemia, preterm birth, preeclampsia, complications of diabetes, or poor growth of the baby in utero. Having a healthy pregnancy is one of the best ways to promote a healthy birth. Getting early and regular prenatal care improves the chances of a healthy pregnancy. This care can begin even before pregnancy with a preconception care visit to a health care provider. Take care of yourself and your baby by:
- Getting early prenatal care. If you know you’re pregnant, or think you might be, cawhole grain ll your doctor to schedule a visit.
- Getting regular prenatal care. Your doctor will schedule you for many check-ups over the course of your pregnancy. Don’t miss any check-up as they are all important.
- Following your doctor’s advice.
Babies of mothers who do not get prenatal care are three times more likely to have a low birth weight and five times more likely to die than those born to mothers who do get care. Doctors can spot health problems early when they see mothers regularly. This allows doctors to treat them early.
What happens during prenatal visits?
It varies depending on how far along you are in your pregnancy. Schedule your first prenatal visit as soon as you think you are pregnant, even if you have confirmed your pregnancy with a home pregnancy test. Some healthcare providers will do an ultrasound at your first prenatal visit. But if you don’t have any medical problems or concerns, it may not be part of the routine. Here’s what’s typical:
- A thorough physical
- A pelvic exam, including a Pap smear (unless you’ve had one recently) to check for abnormal cells, which could indicate cervical cancer
- Possibly a culture to check for chlamydia and gonorrhea
- A urine sample to test for urinary tract infections and other conditions
- Your provider will also order blood tests to:
- Identify your blood type and Rh status
- Check for anaemia
- Test for syphilis, hepatitis B, and immunity to rubella (German measles)
- Test for immunity to chickenpox unless you’ve definitely already had it or have received two doses of the vaccine against the virus that causes it.
You can expect your doctor to
- Ask about your health history including diseases, operations, or prior pregnancies
- Ask about your family’s health and genetic history.
- Check your blood pressure, height, and weight
- Calculate your due date based on your last menstrual cycle and ultrasound exam.
- Ask about your lifestyle, including whether you smoke, drink, or take drugs, and whether you exercise regularly.
- Ask about your stress level.
- Answer your questions
At the first visit, you should ask questions and discuss any issues related to your pregnancy. Find out all you can about how to stay healthy.
At the end of the visit, your practitioner will review the findings with you, explain the normal changes to expect before your next visit and the warning signs to watch for, counsel you about lifestyle issues (such as the importance of good nutrition and avoiding tobacco, alcohol, and drugs), and discuss the pros and cons of optional tests you may want to consider.
If your pregnancy is healthy, your health care provider will set up a regular schedule for visits which will be monthly till your 28 weeks, then every 2 weeks from weeks 28 to 36 and then weekly from week 36 to birth.
It depends on how much you weighed before you conceived and whether that’s the appropriate weight for your height. If your pre-pregnancy weight was in the healthy range for your height when you conceive, you should gain between 25 and 35 pounds. For the optimal growth of your baby, aim to put on 1 to 5 pounds in the first trimester and about 1 pound per week for the rest of your pregnancy. Talk to your doctor about how much weight you should gain. If you don’t weigh enough when you get pregnant, you may need to gain more. If you’re overweight when you get pregnant, you may need to gain less.
What to eat during pregnancy?
- Aim for five portions of fruit and/or veggies per day. They may be in the form of juice, dried, canned, frozen, or fresh.
- Starchy carbohydrate-rich foods include potatoes, rice, pasta, and bread.
- Good animal-sourced proteins include fish, lean meat and chicken, as well as eggs. Vegan sources of protein are Quinoa, tofu, soy products, beans, lentils, legumes, nuts, seeds and nut butters. (Beans, lentils and legumes are also rich in iron)
- Fats should not make up more than 30% of a pregnant woman’s daily calories.
- Wholegrain foods, such as whole meal (wholegrain) bread, wild rice, wholegrain pasta, pulses, fruit and vegetables are rich in fibre.
- It is important to have a healthy daily intake of calcium. Dairy foods, such as milk, cheese, milk and yoghurt are rich in calcium.
- Zinc is a vital trace element. It plays a major role in normal growth and development. The best sources of zinc are chicken, turkey, ham, shrimps, crab, oysters, meat, fish, dairy products, beans, peanut butter, nuts, sunflower seeds, ginger, onions, bran, wheat germ, rice, pasta, cereals, eggs, lentils, and tofu.