The importance of prenatal care for a healthy pregnancy
Congratulations! You just learned that you are pregnant. Whether you’ve been hoping for a baby for weeks, or months, or if this was completely unexpected you likely know that your life is about to change. You’ll have many things to consider over the next nine months, including baby names, nursery colors, car seats, and much, much more. Your first step, however, should be to ensure that you get the right prenatal care during your pregnancy. Studies have shown that mothers who do receive prenatal care are more likely to deliver a heathy baby than those who do not receive prenatal care. This is because obstetricians can identify potential problems early and the mother and baby can receive treatment sooner. Further, the medical team can provide the expectant mother with a wealth of education and tips for pregnancy, labor, and delivery.
Prenatal care is an all-encompassing term for the care you receive from an obstetrician combined with healthy habits at home. Once your pregnancy is confirmed with an at-home pregnancy test, you should call your physician and begin to take a prenatal vitamin with folic acid. Most physicians begin prenatal care around the mother’s eighth week of pregnancy. For the first part of the pregnancy the mother will visit the doctor approximately every four weeks where she will be weighed and measured to determine the baby’s growth and the doctor will listen for the baby’s heartbeat. When the pregnancy enters the third trimester the frequency of appointments will increase. Throughout the pregnancy the mother will undergo blood work, at least one ultrasound, and other testing to ensure the health of the mother and the baby.
Expectant mothers should also be sure to take care of themselves at home. In addition to taking a prenatal vitamin, the patient should maintain a healthy diet of fruits, vegetables, grains, calcium, protein, and healthy fats. There are some foods and habits that should be avoided, such as smoking, undercooked meats and fish. Patients should also exercise and maintain an active lifestyle during pregnancy, unless directed otherwise by their doctor. Most obstetricians indicate that expectant mothers can continue with pre-pregnancy exercise routines, with realistic modifications until it becomes uncomfortable. Finally, expectant mothers should try to rest as much as possible and avoid unnecessary stress.
Pregnancy is an exciting time and can be enjoyed by the entire family as you wait for a healthy baby. For more information about prenatal care in the Katy area, call the office of Jenkins Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Medicine today.