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The Basics of Prenatal Care

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The phrase “prenatal care” refers to the healthy choices a woman makes while pregnant. We all have a few habits that we’d like to change, and many of these come to fruition when a woman realizes that her body is not just a vessel for her own duties, but also the temporary home of her future child.

When you become pregnant or decide to welcome a child into your life, it is often necessary to seek the help of a professional in order to make the best decisions possible. Choosing a family physician, nurse-midwife, obstetrician or other educated individual will give you the support you need during this time.

According to the Federal Government Source for Women’s Health Information, women who are not able to engage in prenatal care are three times more likely to have a low birth weight and five times more likely to die during childbirth.

If you’re planning on conceiving a child, preconception health can be of great value. This can alert you to any risk factors that may affect your body’s ability to carry a child, as well as several things you can do to lower your risk of birth defects. These include taking folic acid supplements at least three months before becoming pregnant, discontinuing use of alcohol and tobacco, building up your own health through condition-specific medications and vaccinations, avoiding chemicals, and tweaking current prescriptions if need be.

Once you are pregnant, a visit to a health care provider will give you specific recommendations for your case. General instructions include all of the above, as well as the avoidance of x-rays and the suggestion to get a flu shot. Your diet should be varied and include plenty of fresh vegetables and whole grains. Calcium is important for the development of the baby, and you’ll need to stay hydrated too.

It is common for women to gain 25-30 pounds during pregnancy, but gaining excessive weight can be an indication that you are consuming high-calorie, high-fat foods instead of nutrient-rich dishes. The concept of “eating for two” is only acceptable when the food you are ingesting is of use to you and your baby.

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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