The Importance of Prenatal Care
The lines are pink. The test is positive. You’re pregnant! Now what?
Prenatal care is an important part of pregnancy. Whether you are a first-time mother or are welcoming another child, taking good care of yourself throughout your pregnancy will help to keep you and your baby safe and healthy.
What is prenatal care?
Prenatal care is the care you receive during pregnancy, starting from the moment you find out you are pregnant. In your first prenatal care visit, you and your doctor will discuss:
- Proper nutrition: Nutritional requirements are different for pregnant women. Your doctor will help you learn how to eat well for a healthy pregnancy. This first visit will include recommendations for supplements that contain folic acid. Folic acid is an important vitamin for spine and brain development.
- What to expect: For first-time moms, this may be the most valuable part of prenatal care. Changes in the body, energy level, and mood can vary from woman to woman. Prenatal visits can answer questions you may have and help you to understand what changes to expect in the coming months.
- How to care for yourself: Your doctor will discuss exercise, rest, and other kinds of self-care during pregnancy.
Throughout your pregnancy, regular prenatal visits can also help answer any questions you have.
Why get prenatal care?
Prenatal care is the best way to help ensure the health and safety of both mother and baby. There are many important reasons for prenatal care.
- Mothers who do not get prenatal care are three times more likely to have babies with a low birth weight. Low birth weight babies are at risk for serious health concerns.
- If there are any problems, doctors can spot them early. Early treatment of complications during pregnancy offers a better chance for success.
- An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, especially during pregnancy. For example, if your doctor knows you have a family history of gestational diabetes, she can help you take steps to prevent that during pregnancy.
Caring for yourself during pregnancy is the best gift you can give to your baby. If you think you are pregnant, schedule a visit with your doctor to get all the benefits of prenatal care. You may even qualify for no-cost prenatal care!