Why Prenatal Care is Important for Mom and Baby
By: Dr. Homayara Aziz
Pregnancy is a wonderful time full of happiness and joy as the excitement of welcoming a new person into your family is unlike any other. However it is also a time of great change in a woman's body because of increased hormones and the growth of the baby. Pregnant women should take extra care of themselves during this special time to make sure that they have the healthiest pregnancy possible.
Prenatal care is the foundation of a healthy pregnancy, labor and delivery. Early and regular prenatal care is very important to the health of your baby and to your own health during pregnancy. If problems do arise, regular visits to your OB/GYN can allow him or her to identify and treat complications as soon as possible. Studies also show that compared with babies whose mothers get prenatal care, those who don't have a greater risk of low birth weight and of death.
If you've already established a regular exercise routine before your pregnancy, then keep up the great work! If not, it's never too late to start. Something as easy as walking, stretching or prenatal yoga can make labor and delivery easier. Always check with your OB/GYN before starting any new exercise routine or about modifying an existing routine once you become pregnant.
Proper nutrition is vital for the health of the mother as well as the fetus because nutrients pass to the baby through the placenta. Women need approximately 300-500 extra calories a day, especially in the third trimester. Healthy snacks, such as whole-wheat crackers, cheese, fruits and vegetables, can help mothers consume those extra calories. Junk foods, especially those high in sugar and fat, are not a healthy choice and are also not as filling.
While good nutrients pass to the baby through the placenta, harmful elements pass through, as well. Tobacco, nicotine, alcohol and drugs can hurt the fetus, causing birth defects and developmental disabilities. Women also need to be careful of the prescription medications they take while pregnant. Talk with your doctor about which medications are safe and which ones are not.
With prenatal care being fairly standardized, what makes the difference in prenatal visits for each woman is finding an office she feels comfortable with and providers that she feels she can trust, whether midwives or doctors. Enjoy this special time in good health!