Prenatal care is the care that is received during pregnancy to keep you and your baby healthy and can be provided by an obstetrician. Pregnant women must schedule a visit to their health care provider as soon as they learn they are pregnant.
The first stage of prenatal care is the preconception stage care, which is an early stage of prenatal care. This is the stage at which you are planning a baby, and starts much before you actually conceive.
The first examination after you conceive would include a physical exam, urine test, an optional blood test and weight checks. Depending upon the stage of pregnancy, some imaging or ultrasound tests may be done.
Your prenatal visits will also allow you to discuss your health, healthy dos and don’ts, preparing for the baby’s birth and any other questions you may have regarding the pregnancy or newborn’s arrival.
A good prenatal care routine can prevent many complications that may arise during the pregnancy and will prepare women for the next stage of life. With a healthy diet, exercise and medication, as advised by your health experts, chances of complications decline significantly.
Regular prenatal care can reduce the risks of complications in pregnancy. Moreover, health experts know how to control existing conditions like blood pressure, thyroid or diabetes, which could cause serious pregnancy complications if kept untreated.
Your doctor will also be able to guide you on the medications you are already taking. For example, chances are your anti-acne medication might have a composition that is harmful to the developing fetus. It is imperative to have a thorough discussion about all health conditions that you may currently have or have had in the past.
Prenatal care can also reduce the risk of infant birth complications. Health care experts will warn you against the intake of tobacco, smoke, alcohol and certain medications during pregnancy.
With prenatal counseling, you will learn to balance your diet with appropriate protein, calcium, iron, mineral and vitamin substitutes. It is very important to consume at least 400 micrograms of folic acid to reduce neural tube defects in infants.
In addition to this, many other vitamins and minerals are required by pregnant women to develop their fetus. Your health expert will be helpful in prescribing a prenatal supplement as per your daily diet requirements in your prenatal care checkup.
The expert at the prenatal care session may ask you to take some prenatal tests like chronic villus sampling, cystic fibrosis carrier screening or amniocentesis to ensure your baby is growing well.
Many prenatal care centers also provide educational classes to help understand what to expect and get ready for the baby’s arrival. The classes include, understanding your baby’s growth in the womb, what to expect during labor, caring for self and baby post-birth, breastfeeding, etc.
How Often Should You Go for Prenatal Checkups?
In the first trimester, aim to meet the expert at least once a month to discuss weight gain, blood pressure, pulse rates and for some basic scans.
In the second trimester, you may continue with the same frequency unless the heath care professional feels she needs to see you more often. At this time, there may be a requirement for advanced ultrasound testing.
For the third trimester, plan to meet your doctor once every week. Regular prenatal visits will help you bond with the doctor and make the labor and delivery process less stressful.
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As young parents, there are many questions that will come up million times as you begin the new phase of life with your little one. Sometimes, you may have family and friends around who can help with practical and real advice, but most of the times, you’re pretty much on your own.
While it’s true that parenting doesn’t come from a book, it’s also true that these days, you can read about and understand almost everything related to babies and parenting. We decided to tell you about a few books that we feel might help you and your partner as a parent:
1. What To Expect Before You’re Expecting: If you are still a couple who is looking forward to begin a family, it’s a good idea to read this one together. From the author of the world’s bible in pregnancy and childcare, this books helps you plan a healthy pregnancy for a healthy baby, with advice on how to conceive, practical tips and reassuring advice – a must-have guide for all parents-to-be.
2. What To Expect BabySitter and Nanny Handbook:If you are trying to make time as a couple while having a little one at home, chances are, you may be taking the help of a babysitter or a carer. The book provides information for anyone who is looking after a baby/child, from birth till 6 years of age. With information from why babies cry, how to talk to a baby and how and what to do for baby in an emergency, this is one book that every baby home should have.
3. 101 Most Important Things You Need To Know Before You Have A Baby:Ready to embark on this exciting journey? Then read this book together with your partner to read about topics like time management, patience, faith, memories, laughter, hope and gives you simple tips and tricks that help you create a balance in life.
4. 365 Days of Baby Love:Wonderful ways to help parents and babies enrich each others’ lives – playing, growing and exploring with babies from birth till 2 years of age.
6. Smile Baby Smile:A cute book that gives you useful thoughts and ideas to stop baby crying and bring back those smiles, for your little one and you!
7. Trouble-Free Travel With Children:Packed with over 700 helpful hints for parents on the go.From fussy newborns to demanding toddlers, this book gives ideas to make your family trip a fun and memorable one!
8. Siblings Without Rivalry:Not a new parent but concerned about how the new baby will affect your older one! This book offers practical and sensitive advice on how to make your siblings grow together with love, making you smile each day.
9. Games Babies Play From Birth To Twelve Months:Tells you about games and structured activities designed to stimulate the intellectual development and motor skills of infants.
10. Juggling Twins:Practical advice and a healthy dose of humour – this book has exactly what parents need to help them survive and thrive with multiples.
If you thought sleepless nights were there only after the baby is born, you are mistaken. Some women experience disturbed sleeping pattern during the course of their pregnancy. This is because your growing uterus puts pressure on your bladder causing you to make umpteen visits to the bathroom at all odd times in the night (and day). I was expecting twins and I had issues sleeping while pregnant and of course post pregnancy too! In this post I have attempted to capture my experiences as well as of those I read on the internet.
Some other types of sleep disturbances faced by pregnant women include heartburn, snoring, the restless leg syndrome and the ever-present nausea. While these symptoms are sometimes unavoidable, these problems could be aggravated if you have a bad sleeping pattern that has been established before pregnancy. Luckily for me, I was never faced with the nausea attacks. I did have constant nose bleeds though.
Follow these guidelines to get a better night’s sleep, during pregnancy and beyond.
Give up the bad habits
If you are a smoker, its still not late to quit your smoking. Smoking and consuming alcohol can have adverse effects on your unborn baby. It can also affect your sleep pattern by causing you to sleep less.
Reduce your intake of caffeinated drinks, such as tea, coffee and cola drinks in general, and avoid them completely before your sleep time.
Make your bedroom comfortable
Since you are going to spend maximum time in your bedroom, make it as relaxing as possible. It will help you sleep better. Keep your room cool as pregnant women feel warmer than usual. Use thick curtains to ward off outside light and look for options to reduce noise levels in your room so that you can sleep better. I would need my favourite pillow and quilt to get a nice sleep!
Don’t take worries to the bed
Stop ticking off the done things mentally in your ‘To Do’ list, while you are lying on the bed trying to get some sleep. If you do have a list, make it by dinner time and assign yourself time to complete the chores the next day. Ensure that you have the time to before you head to the bed. Keep a notebook next to your bed just in case you wake up in the middle of the night remembering a task to complete! Jot it don and go back to sleep. I used to do this, rather type the reminders in my phone!
If you exercise, finish exercising at least three or four hours before you sleep. Some studies show that exercising close to your bedtime can cut down on deep sleep.
Take regular naps
You’ve heard it before, but we’re telling you again! Short naps in the day are known to improve alertness, decrease fatigue and sharpen your memory. Of course, it is good to catch up on as much sleep as you can, because with the baby’s arrival, your sleeping routine is likely to change to a great extent. However, do remember that sleeping in the daytime can cause some women to be up at nights, so if you are one of them, avoid sleeping in the mornings, instead relax by doing an activity you like.
Establish a regular, relaxing bedtime routine
If you are a working professional, relax when you get back home. Enjoy your dinner at a leisurely pace and don’t just gobble it up! After your dinner, indulge in something that relaxes you, listen to music, read a book or just have a warm bath. A warm bath will reduce your fatigue. Also try to go to bed at the same time so that you can establish a sleeping pattern.
If you are awake at nights for what seems like an eternity (check your watch, its possible that you have been awake for just a couple of minutes!), get up and take a small walk around the house. Listen to music pr read a magazine, and when you feel drowsy go back to bed.
Practice relaxation techniques
There are a number of self-help techniques you can try that should encourage sleep, such as guided imagery, deep breathing, or progressive muscle relaxation.
Avoid deep fried, oily, and spicy foods; these are likely to cause an indigestion triggering nausea. Drink plenty of water and any other fluids. This will help you battle dehydration. Also drink lesser fluids just before you go to sleep to avoid the frequent trips to the bathroom.
Eat small portions at regular intervals through out the day. Give yourself at least two hours after dinner time to digest the food. If you’re troubled by nausea, avoid spicy and oily food. Instead eat light and bland snacks to avoid indigestion that can trigger your nausea.
Sleep on your left side
Sleeping on the left side during pregnancy helps blood and nutrients flow to the foetus and the uterus. It also helps the kidneys eliminate waste and fluids.
Don’t get stressed out if you can’t sleep
If you wake up umpteen numbers of times at night, don’t fret. Disturbed sleep is common during pregnancy is perfectly natural. At the start, you may wonder how you will cope up with the disturbed sleep, but relax, once you establish a sleep routine that works for you, it will be easier to get a good nights sleep.
To wrap it up, a glass of warm milk is a good remedy for inducing sleep. All through my pregnancy I was advised to drink a glass of warm milk with a pinch of grated nutmeg. This was quite a life saver for me!