Pregnancy care consists of prenatal (before birth) and postpartum (after birth)
healthcare for expectant mothers.
It involves treatments and trainings
to ensure a healthy prepregnancy, pregnancy, and labor and delivery for mom and
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:
smoking and drinking alcohol
- taking folic
acid supplements daily (400 to 800 micrograms)
- talking to
your doctor about your medical conditions, dietary supplements, and any
over-the-counter or prescription drugs that you take
- avoiding all
contact with toxic substances and chemicals at home or work that could be
Once you become pregnant, you’ll
need to schedule regular healthcare appointments throughout each stage of your
A schedule of visits may involve
seeing your doctor:
- every month
in the first six months you are pregnant
- every two
weeks in the seventh and eighth months you are pregnant
- every week
during your ninth month of pregnancy
During these visits, your doctor
will check your health and the health of your baby.
Visits may include:
routine tests and screenings, such as a blood test to check for anemia, HIV,
and your blood type
your blood pressure
your weight gain
the baby’s growth and heart rate
about special diet and exercise
Later visits may also include
checking the baby’s position and noting changes in your body as you prepare for
Your doctor may also offer
special classes at different stages of your pregnancy.
These classes will:
- discuss what
to expect when you are pregnant
- prepare you
for the birth
- teach you
basic skills for caring for your baby
If your pregnancy is considered
high risk because of your age or health conditions, you may require more
frequent visits and special care. You may also need to see a doctor who works
with high-risk pregnancies.
While most attention to pregnancy
care focuses on the nine months of pregnancy, postpartum care is important, too.
The postpartum period lasts six to eight weeks, beginning right after the baby
During this period, the mother
goes through many physical and emotional changes while learning to care for her
newborn. Postpartum care involves getting proper rest, nutrition, and vaginal
Getting Enough Rest
Rest is crucial for new mothers
who need to rebuild their strength. To avoid getting too tired as a new mother,
you may need to:
- sleep when
your baby sleeps
- keep your
bed near your baby’s crib to make night feedings easier
someone else to feed the baby with a bottle while you sleep
Getting proper nutrition in the
postpartum period is crucial because of the changes your body goes through
during pregnancy and labor.
The weight that you gained during
pregnancy helps make sure you have enough nutrition for breast-feeding.
However, you need to continue to eat a healthy diet after delivery.
Experts recommend that breast-feeding
mothers eat when they feel hungry. Make a special effort to focus on eating
when you are actually hungry — not just busy or tired.
- focus on
eating low-fat foods that balance protein, carbohydrates, and fruits and
- drink plenty
New mothers should make vaginal
care an essential part of their postpartum care. You may experience:
- vaginal soreness f you
had a tear during delivery
- urination problems like
pain or a frequent urge to urinate
- discharge, including
small blood clots
- contractions during
the first few days after delivery
Schedule a checkup with your
doctor about six weeks after delivery to discuss symptoms and receive proper
treatment. You should abstain from sexual intercourse for four to six weeks
after delivery so that your vagina has proper time to heal.
It’s important to stay as healthy
as possible during pregnancy and during the postpartum period. Stay on top of
all of your healthcare appointments and follow your doctor’s instructions for
the health and safety of you and your baby.