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Prenatal Care

Prenatal Care is an essential part of having a healthy pregnancy. Read this article for great tips on what you can do to take care of yourself with vitamins, exercise, eating healthy, and more both before you get pregnant and throughout your pregnancy.

One of the most important things you can do for yourself and your baby is to get prenatal care, and to get it early. Taking proper care of yourself in an important part of having a healthy pregnancy - and increasing the chances of having a healthy baby. While there are some instances in which there is no avoiding complications or health problems for your baby, you can reduce the chances of running into serious issues with the proper prenatal care. Getting proper prenatal care from qualified health professionals (physicians, nurse practitioners, nurse-midwives, midwives and others) can help you identify problems early and, if possible, correct them.

Prenatal care prior to pregnancy

Birth control makes it possible for many women to determine a timeframe for pregnancy. If you have decided that you are ready to start trying to have a baby, it is a good idea to begin your prenatal care before you become pregnant. Here are five things that identifies as the most important things you can do prior to getting pregnant:

  1. Take 400 micrograms of folic acid each day. Prenatal vitamins can help you get what you need.
  2. Stop drinking alcohol and smoking.
  3. Get medical conditions, such as high blood pressure, epilepsy, diabetes, depression, thyroid disease, asthma and obesity under control, and make sure you are properly vaccinated.
  4. Understand which herbal supplements and other over the counter medications and pills can be problematic, and stop taking those.
  5. Try to avoid toxic substances and chemicals.

If you properly prepare your body ahead of your pregnancy, you will be more likely to remain healthy throughout, and you will reduce the chances of problems with your unborn child.

Prenatal care during pregnancy

Proper prenatal care during pregnancy can help you increase the chances of a successful pregnancy, as well as help you reduce the problems that can afflict your child. Indeed, the chances of preterm birth and low birth weight, along with the physical and mental development problems that can come with these problems, can be significantly reduced. Here are some things you can do to help take proper care of yourself during pregnancy:

  • Make sure to keep all of your prenatal care appointments. You should see your health care professional once a month from your fourth week through your 28th week. Once you reach your 28th week, you should increase the visits to twice a month, and then to weekly at the 36th week.
  • Take prenatal vitamins to help you get the right balance of nutrients.
  • Consult with your health care professional before starting new medications (even over the counter), or starting new health or exercise regimens.
  • Stay away from x-rays as much as possible. Let health care professionals know that you are pregnant so that proper precautions can be taken.
  • Get your seasonal flu shot, and your H1N1 flu shot.
  • Avoid fish with lots of mercury (tilefish, king mackerel, swordfish, shark, etc.). Some kinds of sushi should be avoided as well.
  • Choose a healthy diet when possible, making sure to eat fruits and vegetables, foods with calcium and foods with low amounts of saturated fat.
  • Drink plenty of water and other fluids. 
  • Try to limit caffeine, since that can actually restrict blood flow to the fetus.
  • Make sure that you gain a healthy amount of weight. For women who are at a healthy weight prior to pregnancy, it is normal to gain 25-30 pounds.
  • Exercise regularly. Make sure you consult with your health care professional to make sure that you are exercising appropriately.
  • Avoid hot tubs and saunas, and do not take very hot showers.
  • Get plenty of rest, and take time for relaxation. Try to avoid excess stress.
  • Wash your hands frequently to stop the spread of disease.
  • Watch out around rodents and cats. The viruses and parasites found in feces of these animals can cause serious problems for your unborn child.
  • Avoid secondhand smoke.

Make sure that you ask any questions that you have during your prenatal care visits. If you are concerned about something, make sure you bring it up. You will likely be measured for blood pressure, weight gain and baby’s growth. Pregnancy ultrasounds and other tests may be used to assess the progress of the fetus, as well as identify problems.

It is important to take care of yourself through prenatal care before and during pregnancy - and after as well. This way, you will be healthier, and your baby will have a better chance of being healthy.

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