What Is Prenatal Care?
Before becoming pregnant, you may have adopted good health habits to prepare for your baby. But if you didn’t, start today. One of the first steps is learning how to take care of yourself. See your health care provider as soon as you think you may be pregnant. Then, continue prenatal care throughout your pregnancy.
Prenatal care helps you have a healthy baby
During prenatal care:
Your health care provider assesses the health of your pregnancy. Your doctor will calculate a “due date” which gives an estimate of the delivery of your baby. Many women give birth between 38 and 41 weeks of pregnancy. Your due date is determined by counting 40 weeks from the first day of your last menstrual period.
The progress of your pregnancy is checked. This includes your baby’s growth, changes in your weight and blood pressure, and your overall health and comfort.
Your health care provider may find new concerns and manage existing ones before problems occur.
You are part of a team
When you’re pregnant, you’re part of a team that includes you, your baby, and your health care provider. Your team also may include a partner or a main support person. He or she could be a loved one, such as a spouse, a family member, or a friend. As you work toward giving your baby a healthy start, rely on your team members for support.
It’s not too late to start good habits
What matters most is protecting your baby from this moment on. If you smoke, drink alcohol, or use drugs, now is the time to stop. If you need help, talk with your health care provider.
Smoking increases the risk of losing your baby or having a low-birth-weight baby. If you smoke, quit now.
Alcohol and drugs have been linked with miscarriage, birth defects, intellectual disability, and low birth weight. Avoid alcohol and drugs.
Eat a healthy diet. This helps keep you and your baby strong and healthy. Follow your health care provider's instructions for nutrition. Also stay within the guidelines you are given for healthy weight gain.
Regular exercise will help you stay fit and feel good during pregnancy. It can also help prevent or minimize back pain. Be sure to talk with your health care provider about how to exercise safely during pregnancy.