You have just come to know of your pregnancy. Congratulations! Now a new journey to motherhood begins, and prenatal care should start immediately, which will help avoid pregnancy complications. The basics of prenatal care revolve around ensuring good health for both the mother and the baby. It is important for a healthy pregnancy and healthy birth. When you get the right kind of care during pregnancy, you can give birth to a healthy baby.
Basics of Prenatal Care: Care Starts Before Pregnancy
It all begins even before you get pregnant. Go for a complete checkup if you plan to conceive soon. With routine checkups, you can reduce the risk of pregnancy-related complications and prepare your body for the major changes that affect a woman’s body when she conceives.
- Routine tests and periodic visits to the doctor can help rule out any medical conditions that could affect the success rate of your pregnancy.
- Report any unusual symptoms to the doctor so that any complications are nipped in the bud even before they raise their heads.
- This is also a good time to consult with your doctor regarding any habits that could pose a threat to your baby. The doctor may advise you to quit smoking and drinking and start taking a prenatal vitamin or supplement, which is fortified with iron, folic acid, and calcium. Most pregnant women are advised to take vitamins with folic acid in the first trimester because of the risk of neural tube defects in the first 28 days of pregnancy.
- If there is a genetic disease running in your family, let the doctor know. They may advise you to go for genetic testing. You may be referred to a genetic counselor.
The Basics of Prenatal Care: Care During Pregnancy
Your first prenatal care visit to the doctor is typically the longest. It is that time when a thorough medical exam will be done on you, and the doctor will measure your weight, height, pulse rate, breathing, and blood pressure.
A gynecological exam and blood tests will include:
- Tests for gonorrhea, chlamydia
- Breast exam
- Pap test for blood cancer
- Test for inherited diseases, hepatitis, cystic fibrosis, HIV/AIDS, thalassemia, syphilis, tuberculosis
Tests will be done to check for diabetes.
Your health care provider may refer you to a medical expert if you are
- over 35 years of age
- pregnant with more than one fetus
- suffering from a chronic condition
- at a high risk of preterm labor
- suffering from a complication that risks your health or the health of your baby
Routine Visits and Testing
Prenatal care begins early. An important part of this care is timely checkups:
- Every 4 weeks until 28th week
- Every 2 weeks until 36 weeks
- Once a week until delivery
The doctor keeps a close watch on your weight and blood pressure during every visit. After the 22nd week, they may start measuring the size and shape of your uterus. This gives them a clear idea whether the baby is growing and developing normally.
The health care provider will ask for a urine sample to check symptoms of fluid retention and protein in the urine. High protein may indicate preeclampsia, which could turn into a complication in late pregnancy with a spike in blood pressure and weight gain.
Ultrasound/ Sonogram/ Sonograph/Ultrasonogram
You will need one ultrasound examination to see if the pregnancy is progressing normally. An ultrasound imaging test will also help the doctor verify the expected date of delivery. An ultrasound is safe for the mother and the fetus.
Ultrasound imaging helps:
- Find out if the fetus is growing at a normal rate
- See whether you might be carrying more than one fetus
- Check the fetal heartbeat
- Check for abnormalities that might affect cause pregnancy complications
Women at a high risk of gestational diabetes are required to undergo glucose screening at 12 weeks. This includes women with
- A family history of diabetes
- Overweight and obesity problem
- A previous pregnancy with a baby weighing more than 9 pounds
Prenatal Care and Weight Gain in Pregnancy
Pregnancy brings about a host of changes in your body and size. Women of average weight should gain about 25–35 pounds when they are pregnant, while overweight women may need closer to 15–25 pounds during pregnancy. Underweight pregnant women should weigh heavier by 28–40 pounds.
Taking Care of Yourself
Pregnancy is not the time to start on a diet. No doubt, it is one of the most stressing yet enjoyable moments of your life. It is critically important to take good care of yourself and avoid any habits that could pose a threat to the life surviving within you.
- Take enough rest.
- Avoid smoking or drinking.
- Eat a healthy diet.
- Take a leisurely stroll.
- Visit the doctor regularly.
- Take your medicines on time.
- Keep yourself stress-free.
This is all you need to take care during pregnancy. If you follow the basics of prenatal care, you will have no pregnancy complications. Have a safe and healthy pregnancy!
Ravneet also blogs at www.wellnessguide.com