Pregnancy care consists of prenatal (before birth) and postpartum (after birth) healthcare for expectant mothers. It involves treatments and training to ensure a healthy prepregnancy, pregnancy, and labor and delivery for mom and baby.
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 a triple the chance of being born at 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:
quitting 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 harmful
Once you become pregnant, you’ll need to schedule regular healthcare appointments throughout each stage of your pregnancy.
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.