If you are pregnant or thinking about becoming pregnant, you need to understand the importance of your health.
Proper prenatal care not only protects your body, it helps your baby’s development throughout gestation.
Women’s Health Specialists recommend talking to your physician or a nurse about preparing for pregnancy. They say you should definitely get engaged in a prenatal care program once you become pregnant.
Babies of mothers who do not get prenatal care are three times more likely to have a low birth weight and five times more likely to die than those born to mothers who do get care, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Preconception health involves preparing yourself three months before you plan to become pregnant. Your physician will review your health history (including your family’s) and look at possible risks to you and your baby.
Certain foods and medicines, and even lifestyle, can harm a baby even before conception.
Here are five steps you can take before becoming pregnant, according to WomensHealth.gov:
- Take 400 to 800 micrograms of folic acid every day for at least three months before getting pregnant to lower your risk of some birth defects of the brain and spine. You can get folic acid from some foods. But it's hard to get all the folic acid you need from foods alone. Taking a vitamin with folic acid is the best and easiest way to be sure you're getting enough.
- Stop smoking and drinking alcohol.
- Keep any medical conditions under control. Some conditions include asthma, diabetes, depression, high blood pressure, obesity, thyroid disease or epilepsy. Be sure your vaccinations are up to date.
- Talk to your doctor about any over-the-counter and prescription medicines you are using. These include dietary or herbal supplements. Some medicines are not safe during pregnancy. At the same time, stopping medicines you need also can be harmful.
- Avoid contact with toxic substances or materials at work and at home that could be harmful. Stay away from chemicals and cat or rodent feces.
Here are five steps to take after you become pregnant, according to BabyCenter.com:
- Eat a balanced diet. You need to consume approximately 300 additional calories per day. That should include about 70 grams per day of protein. Your calcium requirement remains the same, but you need to meet it.
- Exercise regularly. This will help with blood flow to the baby and reduce your stress. Walking, for example, will also keep your weight in good order. You should avoid, though, getting dehydrated from a workout.
- Limit your coffee. The March of Dimes advises women to limit caffeine consumption intake to less than 200 mg per day, an amount you could get from one 8-ounce cup of strong coffee.
- Be aware of environmental dangers. Some jobs can be hazardous to you and your developing baby. If you're routinely exposed to chemicals, heavy metals (like lead or mercury), certain biologic agents, or radiation, you'll need to make some changes as soon as possible.
- Take care of your emotional health. Your hormones will be going through many changes throughout your pregnancy. This could lead to depression.
For more information about Prenatal Care, contact the Johnson Memorial Women’s Health Specialists at 317.738.0630 at our JMH Main Campus in Franklin or 317.530.3111 at our Whiteland Primary Care Center.