According to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) nearly 4 million women give birth each year. Out of those 4 million, nearly one third of them will have some kind of pregnancy related complication. While some complications occur from actions that are out of the mother’s control, many happen simply because the mother is unaware of the type of care she needs. If you are experiencing an unplanned pregnancy, it’s important that you learn how to properly care for yourself and your child before and after delivery.

 

What is Prenatal Care?

Prenatal care is the health care you receive while you are pregnant. The best way to ensure a healthy mother and baby is to get the care you need early on in the pregnancy. Whether you are three weeks pregnant or three months, call your doctor to schedule a visit. After your initial doctor’s visit, expect your physician to schedule you for many checkups over the course of your pregnancy. Do your best not to miss any appointments, as they are all important. You need to know if your baby is developing normally and on schedule, and to allow room for any advice your doctor may have for you.

Why do I Need Prenatal Care?

Prenatal care is needed to help keep you and your baby healthy. Mothers who do not receive prenatal care are more likely to give birth to babies with a low birth weight, and are also more likely to have other complications during their pregnancy. Seeing your doctor regularly will help him or her to spot complications early, and treat them before they develop further. Regular visits will also help prevent any future problems. Your physician can also provide you with valuable tips and information about things you can do to give your baby a healthy start to life. From what to eat, exercise routines and emotional advice, frequent doctor’s visits are crucial to a healthy pregnancy.

Dos and Don’ts During Pregnancy

Whether it’s the food you’re eating or the exercise you’re doing, there are many rules to follow when you are pregnant.

DO:
  • Get early and regular prenatal care
  • Take a multivitamin or prenatal vitamin
  • Avoid X-Rays until after delivery
  • Eat a variety of healthy foods
  • Get all the nutrients you need each day
  • Gain a healthy amount of weight (your doctor will tell you how much to aim for)
  • Work with your doctor to create an exercise plan
  • Get plenty of sleep
  • Do you research. Read books and articles on what to expect while you’re expecting
  • Stay away from secondhand smoke
  • Take steps to avoid illness (wash hands, etc)
DON’T:
  • Drink alcohol, smoke or chew tobacco or take drugs
  • Take hot baths or go in hot tubs or saunas
  • Eat fish with lots of mercury
  • Exercise too much. Find a plan that works for you
  • Miss doctor’s appointments

All in all, receiving the proper health care during your pregnancy is crucial to ensuring a positive outcome. If you have questions about how to obtain health care, call your doctor or visit a local Planned Parenthood. If you are pregnant and considering adoption, there may be able to receive financial assistance for doctor’s visits, prescriptions and other health care needs.