Pregnancy care consists of prenatal (before birth) and postpartum (after birth) healthcare for expectant mothers.
Prenatal care helps decrease risks during pregnancy and increases the chance of a safe and healthy delivery. Regular prenatal visits can help your doctor monitor your pregnancy and identify any problems or complications before they become serious.
Babies born to mothers who lack prenatal care have triple the chance of being born at a low birth weight. Newborns with low birth weight are five times more likely to die than those whose mothers received prenatal care.
Prenatal care ideally starts at least three months before you begin trying to conceive.
Some healthy habits to follow during this period include:
- Quit smoking and drinking alcohol
- Take folic acid supplements daily (400 to 800 micrograms)
- Talk to your doctor about your medical conditions, dietary supplements, and any over-the-counter or prescription drugs that you take
- Avoid all contact with toxic substances and chemicals at home or work that could be harmful
Your health care provider might discuss the importance of nutrition and prenatal vitamins. Ask about exercise, sex, dental care, vaccinations and travel during pregnancy, as well as other lifestyle issues. You might also talk about your work environment and the use of medications during pregnancy. If you smoke, ask your health care provider for suggestions to help you quit.
Normal discomforts of pregnancy
You might notice changes in your body early in your pregnancy. Your breasts might be tender and swollen. Nausea with or without vomiting (morning sickness) is also common. Talk to your health care provider if your morning sickness is severe.
Regular checkups are also a great time to learn how to ease any discomfort you may be having, and ask any other questions about your pregnancy and the birth of your future baby.
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Dr Umalakshi Premnath MD, DM
Dr Mehta’s Hospitals, Chetpet