A healthy baby needs a healthy environment in which to develop, grow and thrive. Having a healthy baby starts by having a healthy pregnancy, and receiving regular prenatal care improves your chances of having a healthy pregnancy.
What is prenatal care?
Prenatal care is a specialized form of health care received during pregnancy. Its primary focus is ensuring you and your baby are healthy throughout the pregnancy.
Prenatal care helps to keep you and your baby as healthy as possible. According to Womenshealth.gov, “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.”
Prenatal care involves visiting your doctor for regular checkups over the course of your pregnancy and following your doctor’s advice based on your current health and condition. Every pregnancy is different, and each has its own considerations, making it vital for you to follow your doctor's advice.
Doctors can identify potential health problems early on if they see mothers on a regular basis. This allows your doctor to treat issues right away or prevent them from occurring.
Benefits of prenatal care
Prenatal care is known to have the following benefits:
- Reduces the baby’s risk of health issues: Your baby’s health is one of the focal points of prenatal care.
- Reduces the risk of pregnancy complications: Prenatal care helps to eliminate common risks during pregnancy, minimizing the chance of any complications.
- Ensures expectant mothers are taking safe medications: Some medications and herbal and dietary supplements can create pregnancy complications.
Start before you get pregnant
If you are planning on getting pregnant, it's important to start with prenatal care in advance. Here is what you can do to optimize your health before getting pregnant:
- Make sure your immunizations are up to date
- Be conscious about eating well
- Increase your intake of folic acid
- Avoid drinking alcohol, smoking and using drugs
- Make sure you are at a healthy weight
- Learn about your family medical history
If you have a pre-existing health condition, talk with your doctor about managing it during pregnancy
Tips for taking care of yourself during pregnancy
- Get regular prenatal care, and start early
- Eat a variety of healthy foods
- Make sure you get all the vitamins and nutrients you need each day
- Talk with your doctor before taking any medications or supplements
- Take a prenatal vitamin
- Stay active and exercise regularly
- Get plenty of sleep and rest
- Take extra precautions to avoid illnesses
- Sign up for childbirth education classes with your partner
- Educate yourself about pregnancy and the birth process
The more you know about pregnancy and prenatal care, the more prepared you will be to create a healthy environment for yourself and your child.
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