Pregnancy brings joy and stress due to the changes that are bound to happen both physically and emotionally. As soon as conception takes place, an expectant woman should know about the necessary pregnancy care.
Pregnancy care includes both the prenatal or antenatal care (before birth) and postpartum care (after birth) given to expectant mothers. It is essential to undergo the process of pregnancy care to ensure that both the mother and the baby are healthy throughout the course of pregnancy, the labor, and delivery.
Antenatal or Prenatal Care
Prenatal care is given to a pregnant woman to monitor the condition of health of both the unborn baby and the mother. As soon as you’re sure about your pregnancy, you need to consult immediately a midwife or your doctor. This will keep you well-informed about the services and support that you need such as:
- Prenatal appointments – These are regular health appointments with your doctor or midwife to check and monitor your health as well as the development of the baby.
- Prenatal screening – This include tests to evaluate the health status of your baby and to know whether he or she is at risk of certain abnormalities or conditions.
- Prenatal classes – It is important for an expectant mother to attend prenatal workshops or classes. This will prepare both you and your partner for the coming of your baby.
During your prenatal appointments your doctor or midwife will discuss few things to ensure healthy and safe pregnancy. Thus, you need to follow lifestyle advice such as:
- Exercise – As the pregnancy progresses physical changes will happen not only to the body shape but also with the weight. Doing physical exercise will help your body to easily adapt to the changes. Make sure to consult your doctor before starting an exercise to ensure that it is safe for you.
- Quit alcohol – Drinking alcoholic beverages is strongly prohibited during pregnancy because the alcohol passes through the placenta and it will impact the development of the baby. Taking alcohol during the first trimester would increase the risk of miscarriage.
- Stop smoking – The possibility of the baby to be born too early or underweight is great if the mother is smoking during pregnancy. It’s because the supply of oxygen to your baby is restricted.
- Limit caffeine intake – Caffeine has negative to your unborn baby that’s why expectant mother should limit caffeine intake. It can cause miscarriage and low birth weight. It does not necessarily mean cutting out caffeine completely. You can eat at least four small bars of dark chocolate or two cups of coffee.
Regular prenatal checkup should be employed throughout the pregnancy. Your doctor will give a schedule of regular appointments such as:
- Monthly check up during the first six months of pregnancy
- Every other week during the 7th and 8th months
- Every week on the 9th month of pregnancy
It is important to follow the schedule diligently to monitor the development of the baby. It will also prepare you for the birth of your baby.
During the prenatal checkup your doctor may recommend you to have vaccines for pregnant woman including whooping cough vaccine and flu vaccine. This will help to boost the immunity of the mother and protect the baby as well.
Food hygiene and diet
It is necessary to follow a healthy diet during pregnancy to ensure proper development of the baby. The diet must be based from the main food groups including the following:
- Carbohydrates (pasta, rice, potatoes, bread)
- Fruits and vegetables (5 servings a day)
- Protein (meat, fish, poultry, and eggs)
- Dairy products (milk, yogurt, cheese)
Pregnant women should also drink plenty of liquid either water or fruit juice to prevent nausea and constipation. Your doctor may also recommend increasing intake of folic acid. This will help reduce the possibility of developing neural tube defects in your baby.
Pregnancy care doesn’t end throughout the course of pregnancy but also after giving birth or the postpartum care. It starts right after the delivery and lasts for about eight weeks. After giving birth, the mother experiences not only physical but most especially emotional changes particularly those first-time mothers.
The postpartum care includes getting proper nutrition, rest, and vaginal care.
- Proper nutrition – After giving birth, the mother should eat proper nutrition to overcome all the stress and pain throughout the pregnancy and labor. Likewise, it’s important to eat right enough for breastfeeding.
Nursing mothers should eat whenever they feel hungry, but should be extra careful about the food they eat. They should focus on foods that are low in fat to balance the intake of carbohydrates and protein. High-fat snacks must be avoided and increase intake of fruits and vegetables, and drink adequate amount of fluids.
- Get enough rest – New mothers should get enough rest to regain strength. Thus, a new mother must sleep when the baby sleeps, ask someone from the family to feed the baby (bottle feeding) while you sleep, and keep the baby’s crib near to your bed for easier night feeding.
- Vaginal care – This is significant part of the postpartum care for new mothers. After giving birth normally, you will feel vaginal soreness, urination issues, blood discharge, and contractions few days after giving birth.
It’s important to schedule an appointment with your doctor after delivery so that you’ll know about the proper treatment. Abstaining from sexual intercourse is also recommended six weeks after giving birth to give enough time for your vagina to heal.
It’s not enough to stay healthy during the course of pregnancy, but also after giving birth. Make sure to be diligent in all your pregnancy care appointments as it is not only for your good but for healthy development of your baby. Always follow the instructions of your doctor to ensure health and safety both of you and your baby.