Why Prenatal Care is So Important for the Expectant Mother
Prenatal care means maintaining a healthy lifestyle during pregnancy. The most important thing here is that prenatal care prevents the complications that come along with pregnancy. It informs the mother-to-be about the important steps that she should take to protect the baby and to have a healthy pregnancy.
Helps to Detect Major Health Concerns: Your visit to the doctor for prenatal care helps to detect major diseases like anemia, thyroid, gestational diabetes, high blood pressure, etc. The early detection of these diseases helps to treat it effectively. It, in turn, will not affect your baby adversely.
Reduces Complications for Your baby: Prenatal care ensures a healthy baby. Women who get prenatal care can avoid delivering a baby with a low birth rate. It also decreases the chances of stillbirths.
Ensures Healthy Growth Rate of Your Baby: Prenatal care helps your baby to grow properly. In the process, the mother-to-be becomes well-informed about the growth rate of the baby and takes necessary steps towards it.
Accurate Nutritional Information Makes both Mother and Baby Healthy: Prenatal care informs the to-be-mother about the accurate nutritional diet that she should follow to have a healthy pregnancy as well as a healthy baby.
Certain Appropriate Tests Ensure Hassle-free Pregnancy: During the prenatal care process, certain tests, such as amniocentesis checks genetic abnormalities, urine infection or check the maturity of the baby’s lungs.
Makes You Prepared for Labor and Delivery: It gradually prepares you for the labor and delivery of your baby. It informs you about the procedures and scenarios associated with labor and delivery. It tries to make the journey less painful.
Important Prenatal Care Tips that Every Mother-to-be Should Know
Take an Appointment with a Gynecologist
The first step in prenatal care starts with taking an appointment and meeting your gynaecologist after you miss your period. Your doctor will do a physical examination, weight measurement, and urine sample examination. Depending on your pregnancy stage, your doctor may ask you to go for some tests, such as blood test and ultrasound examination.
Take Nutritional Diet
During pregnancy, it is utmost important that you should take diet which is full of vitamins and minerals for the proper growth of your baby. Lack of nutritional food may lead to low birth weight, fetal abnormalities and birth defects.
You should take foods that are rich in iron (pulses and beans, nuts and seeds, meat, fish, eggs, brown rice, soybean flour, etc.), calcium (cheese, yogurt, beans and lentils, whey protein, almonds, sardines and canned salmons, leafy greens, etc.), protein (milk, cheese, egg, bean, meat, lean beef, oats, Greek yogurt, fish etc.), folic acid (spinach, citrus fruits, beans, breads, cereals, rice, etc.) as well as other vitamins and minerals.
Make sure to take more protein-rich food, such as milk, cheese and yogurt. Consume small meals at regular intervals throughout the day. Change your diet every day so that your body can get all the vitamins and minerals.
Eat 5 servings of fruits and vegetables daily. Go for wholegrain varieties to get more fiber.
Take Prenatal Supplements
With your doctor’s advice, start taking prenatal vitamins as early as possible as it ensures a healthy baby, healthy pregnancy as well as a healthy mother. Taking prenatal supplements removes 70% chances of birth defects in the baby. It also helps the mother to recover fast after delivery and helps to keep the newborn baby stay healthy.
Mostly folic acid and iron are the two major vitamins that a woman needs during her pregnancy. It is recommended to take 400micrograms of folic acid before pregnancy and 600 micrograms of folic acid during the early days of pregnancy. It reduces growing fetus’s risk of developing neural tube birth defects such as spina bifida, Down syndrome, etc.
You need to take enough of iron, particularly during the second and third trimester to accommodate the needs of your body and your baby. But remember, do not take too much of vitamins.
Work Out Regularly
Working out regularly makes a person healthy both physically and mentally. And the good thing here is that if you continue exercising regularly during pregnancy, it will help you to shape up your body faster after pregnancy.
Regular exercise helps to improve your posture as well as lessen certain pregnancy-related discomforts like fatigue and backache. It prevents the occurrence of gestational diabetes, relieves stress and increases your stamina. It also decreases the chances of C-section delivery to a great extent.
As per the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology, a healthy pregnant woman should perform 30 minutes of moderate exercise every day. Yoga, swimming, walking, jogging, or prenatal dance classes help your body to maintain its balance during pregnancy.
If you suffer from certain medical conditions like asthma, heart diseases and diabetes, you should not continue exercising during your pregnancy.
Stop exercising if you have pregnancy-related problems like low placenta, recurrent miscarriage, weak cervix, bleeding or spotting. Consult your doctor before starting any new exercise.
Start Doing Pelvic Floor Exercises
Pelvic floor muscles that support your vagina, bladder and back passage feel weak during pregnancy due to extra pressure on them. Weak pelvic floor muscles increase the risk of stress incontinence. So do some pelvic floor exercises during pregnancy to strengthen the muscles.
Drink More Water
It is recommended to drink enough of water during pregnancy to avoid dehydration as well as urinary tract infection. You need to drink at least 3.5 liters of water every day. You can also take fruit juices, coconut water, glucose water, buttermilk, etc.
Take Enough Rest
The woman body goes through massive changes during pregnancy. The hormone level also changes drastically. The pregnant woman feels tired and fatigued most of the times, particularly during the first and third trimester.
Slow down yourself a little bit and give your body some rest. Take a short nap or give your body a 10-minute break very often. Go to bed early. Do some yoga, stretching and deep breathing to enliven your body as well as your mood.
Get enough of sleep as lack of sleep may cause painful and long labour. It may lead to C-section delivery in some cases.
Decrease Consumption of Carbohydrate-rich Food
It is healthy if you gain 10 to 12 kilograms of weight during your pregnancy but gaining too much weight can lead to gestational diabetes, swelling and backache. So taking more of foods that are rich in carbohydrate makes you gain more weight. Eat more of fruits and vegetables during these days.
Take Care of Your Hunger Pangs
It is common to feel hungrier when you are pregnant. We read it earlier that you need to follow a proper nutritional diet during your pregnancy. So in spite of eating mindlessly, go for fruits, sprouts, salads, roasted gram and makhana, grilled fish and chicken.
Also, taking dry carbohydrates that are found in cracker and biscuits after getting up from bed may prevent morning sickness.
Avoid Certain Foods
Definitely, you will feel hungry from time to time when pregnant but you need to be very careful regarding consuming certain foods.
Certain foods contain toxic ingredients that can cause harm to the fetus. Some of such foods are a raw egg, unpasteurized milk, undercooked meat, ready-to-eat meals and fish with high mercury level.
The food that you consume should be cooked properly in hygienic conditions. It will help to avoid
food- related infections that may harm your baby.
Clean vegetables in running water to remove soil and dirt. Wash utensils, knife and cutting board before using them for cooking.
Smoking and alcohol consumption lead to complications related to the fetus and increase the risk of sudden infant death syndrome. It also increases the chances of having low birth weight baby, miscarriages and stillbirths.
Completely avoid consumption of alcohol in the first trimester. The expectant mothers who drink regularly are more likely to give birth to babies with fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD). At the later stage, these children face problems while learning, speaking and performing tasks.
Like alcohol consumption, smoking also increases the chances of miscarriages, stillbirths, low birth weight etc. As per some researchers, smoking also leads to certain other problems, such as a baby with a cleft palate, premature delivery, etc.
If you find it very difficult to avoid smoking and drinking, then talk to your doctor. Also, keep yourself away from secondhand smoke.
If you are pregnant, then you should limit your caffeine consumption to less than 200 mg per day to keep your baby healthy. As per a study, more caffeine consumption may lead to miscarriages in the first trimester.
Caffeine absorbs iron (most important for a pregnant woman) from the body. It may also disturb your sleep, cause headaches and heartburn.
Be Aware of not to Take Illicit Drugs
You need to take special care of yourself when you are pregnant. Stay away from taking any illicit drugs like marijuana, cocaine, etc.
Marijuana obstructs the growth of the baby and causes withdrawal symptoms. Cocaine by restricting blood flow to the uterus can cause premature delivery, miscarriages, abruption of the placenta and growth problems. These drugs may also cause birth defects and behavioural problems in the children.
Take Care of Your Oral Health
During pregnancy, the level of hormones called progesterone and estrogen increases. It in turn sometimes causes swelling, bleeding and tenderness of the gums. To care of your oral health, visit a dentist at regular intervals during pregnancy.
Be Away From Environmental Dangers
Keep yourself away from chemicals, heavy metals (like mercury or lead) and radiation. Also do not expose yourself to harmful pesticides, solvents and cleaning products.
Learn and Educate Yourself
The best person to give proper care to you during pregnancy is “you” because the way you understand your body no one does. So be well informed about everything related to pregnancy starting from the diet, exercises to baby health and growth. It will help to go through this phase of your life easily and smoothly.
Take Care of Your Emotions
Taking care of your mental health is equally important as taking care of your physical health. Due to hormonal changes, the woman faces various emotional challenges like feeling stressed out, feeling depressed, mood swings, etc., during her pregnancy.
Sometimes the woman also feels very low and at times feels very anxious. So if you experience such varied emotions, then talk to your doctor to find some solution. Try to keep yourself happy as the combination of healthy body and a healthy mind creates a healthy baby.
Talk to your family and friend for emotional support as emotional support plays a great role during pregnancy.
Be confident about your body and stay positive about the changes that pregnancy brings. It will prepare you positively for the labour and childbirth. Go through positive information that talks about pregnancy and childbirth.
Additional Prenatal Care Tips for the Mother-to-Be for a Healthy Pregnancy
- Make your pregnancy calendar and mark the dates for appointments with the doctor, ultrasounds and screening tests. Go to your doctor for regular checkups starting from the first trimester. Do not miss it.
- Do not eat for two when you are pregnant. It is a myth that you need to eat for two during pregnancy. But the fact is that your body does not need any extra calorie during the first 6 months of pregnancy. But in the last 2 months before the delivery, your body needs 200 extra calories per day.
- Go for brisk walking to boost the energy level of your body as well as your mind. It also keeps you active.
- Check your weight gain in every month. Too much weight gains, as well as less weight gain than the required level, are the matters of concern. Talk to your doctor to control the situation as both the things are harmful to your baby. Practice prenatal yoga and cardio exercises to maintain a normal weight gain.
- Avoid eating fatty and junk food. If you are overweight, talk to your dietician to start a healthy diet.
- Try to be away from stress as it impacts both the mother as well as the baby. Listening to soft music, reading books and meditation calm your mind and keep you free from stress. Reading a pregnancy guide comes as a great help during your pregnancy.
- If you face any health problem, consult your doctor to take the medicines. Do not go for over-the-counter drugs.
- If you do not like to wear those loose clothes and want to look fashionable even if when you are pregnant, then go for those stylish maternity clothes. I am sure it will definitely uplift your mood!
- The time has come to pamper yourself. Uplift your mood by hitting the spa, go to a movie and spend time with your loved ones.
- Stay away from hitting the sauna, especially in the first trimester. It increases the body temperature which might not be good for the little one in your womb.
- Do not go near the people who have infectious diseases like chicken pox, shingles or other viral infections. Being exposed to these diseases might harm your baby.
- Always talk to your healthcare provider about your feelings and concerns to ease out the situation.
Pregnancy brings a beautiful as well as a life-changing experience. And delivering the baby and holding him or her for the first time in your hands gives an ethereal experience which only mothers can experience.
If you are expecting, then go through this list of important prenatal care tips that every mother-to-be should know to enhance your pregnancy experience and to have a healthy pregnancy.
All the best mummy-to-be.