Why do I need prenatal care?
Prenatal care is the best way to keep you and your baby healthy throughout your pregnancy. This is because early detection and treatment of issues during pregnancy can prevent life-threatening complications before, during, and after birth.
In fact, data suggests that babies born to mothers who attend regular prenatal care appointments are born with a higher birth weight. Not only that, but these babies are five times less likely to die during the birth process.
Subsequently, patients need prenatal care appointments to keep themselves and their babies healthy and safe. Regular visits with our team allow patients to:
- Monitor their baby’s development
- Receive routine testing
- Treat issues as they arise
- Ask questions and receive medically-accurate, honest, and personalized advice
What do I do if I want to get pregnant?
Your body plays host to a developing baby. So, taking care of your body before getting pregnant is key to a healthy and successful pregnancy.
If you’re thinking about growing your family, then it’s best to schedule a preconception planning appointment (or pre-pregnancy appointment) to talk to our team of prenatal professionals. We can assess your overall health, discuss your current medications, and make personalized recommendations to increase your chances of getting pregnant.
But, if you can’t make it into our office for preconception planning, then we recommend:
- Regular exercise: Even 30 minutes of moderate activity four days a week can make a major impact on your overall health before getting pregnant.
- Well-balanced diet: Lean proteins, healthy fats, and fiber are integral to a proper pre-pregnancy diet.
- Hydration: Water is necessary for optimal health and function, especially when trying to get pregnant. We suggest drinking at least 64 ounces of water daily.
- Specialized vitamins: Taking multivitamins or prenatal vitamins every day is a great way to prepare for pregnancy. We recommend taking vitamins that contain at least 400 micrograms (mcg) of folic acid.
- Avoiding harmful substances: Caffeine, nicotine, alcohol, and recreational drugs can complicate conception. Avoid these harmful substances while trying to expand your family.
I’m pregnant. What should I avoid?
Once pregnant, patients should avoid potentially harmful habits or behaviors, such as:
- Substances: Tobacco products, alcohol, caffeinated beverages, and recreational drugs can lead to pregnancy complications and/or cause birth defects. Patients should stop using these substances as soon as they know that they are expecting. If you need help addressing substance use or abuse, then contact our team. We can help you find the resources and support you and your baby deserve.
- Over-the-counter medications: While most over-the-counter medications and supplements are safe to take during pregnancy, some are not. It is always best to consult with our team before taking any new medications, vitamins, or supplements.
- Raw or undercooked meats: Raw and undercooked meats, eggs, and fish can carry a harmful parasite known as Toxoplasma gondii. These parasites cause toxoplasmosis, which can be deadly to a developing fetus.
- Soft cheeses and deli meats: Deli meats, hotdogs, and unpasteurized, soft cheeses (like Brie, Camembert, and goat cheese) can contain Listeria, a bacterium that causes flu-like symptoms in adults. To fetuses, however, Listeria may prove deadly.
- Industrial chemicals: Pesticides, insecticides, solvents, and other heavy-duty chemicals can cause pregnancy complications and birth defects.
- Heavy metals: Metals like lead and mercury are known neurotoxins that can disrupt a fetus’
- Kitty litter boxes: Cat feces can contain the same parasite found in raw or undercooked meats (Toxoplasma gondii). To avoid toxoplasmosis, patients should avoid scooping litter boxes while pregnant.
- Saunas and hot tubs: During pregnancy, the body’s core temperature naturally rises. Subjecting the body to external heat factors may increase complications, like fainting, overheating, dizziness, and dehydration.
- X-rays: Although digital x-rays use nearly 90% less radiation compared to film-based x-rays, it is best to avoid irradiating a vulnerable fetus.
What should I do for a healthy pregnancy and baby?
The best thing you can do to ensure a healthy and safe pregnancy for a happy, healthy baby is to attend regular prenatal care appointments. In addition to regular prenatal visits, we recommend:
- Staying active: Pregnancy is exciting, but it doesn’t have to disrupt your daily life. Continue getting regular exercise (roughly 30 minutes, four days a week), and keep working as long as you feel able. If you are worried about working while pregnant, then ask our team for advice.
- Prenatal vitamins: Multivitamins for pregnancy contain essential nutrients for healthy fetal development, such as folic acid, calcium, iron, vitamin D, iodine, and omega-3 fatty acids.
- Enhanced nutrition: Choose nutrient-dense foods, like lean proteins, healthy fats, and fresh fruits and vegetables. Avoid excess sugar, saturated fats, processed foods, and added salt.
- Staying hydrated: Water is an important part of fetal development. Subsequently, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends getting between 64 and 96 ounces of water daily during pregnancy.
- Self-education: Understanding the changes that your body is about to undergo is important. Therefore, we suggest reading books, taking classes, and conducting research on pregnancy and birth to help you prepare for the journey ahead.
- Asking your doctor: Even with diligent research, it is hard to get all of the information you need (especially if you’re a first-time parent). Regular prenatal care appointments with our team can help you get personalized information and advice that meets your unique needs.
Is it safe to take folic acid every day, even if I don’t want to get pregnant right now?
Yes, it is safe for adults to take at least 400 micrograms of folic acid every day. Even if patients are not planning on getting pregnant, folic acid can:
- Reduce inflammation
- Enhance neurological health
- Improve blood sugar regulation
- Aid in kidney function
- Reduce the risk of heart disease
Taking folic acid supplements before pregnancy is an easy way to prevent some birth defects caused by folic acid deficiencies during early pregnancy. Subsequently, we recommend taking a daily multivitamin that contains folic acid, whether you’re planning to grow your family or not.
How often should I see my doctor while I’m pregnant?
In general, experts recommend seeing a qualified doctor:
- Roughly once a month for the first six or seven months of pregnancy
- Approximately every two weeks for the seventh and eighth months of pregnancy
- Every week after the eighth month up until birth
However, every patient is different, so scheduled visits may vary from patient to patient. For example, patients over the age of 35 or high-risk patients may require more appointments to ensure a safe, healthy, and comfortable pregnancy.
Ultimately, our team will help you create a personalized schedule that meets you and your baby’s needs.
What happens during prenatal appointments?
The initial prenatal care appointment is designed to gather pertinent information about the patient and fetus, which may include:
- Discussing the patient’s medical history, including current health conditions, medications, family history, previous operations, and prior pregnancies
- A complete physical exam
- A pelvic exam with a Papanicolaou test (Pap smear)
- A blood and/or urine test
- Blood pressure, height, and weight measurements
- Calculating the expected due date
The initial appointment may be the longest prenatal care appointment that you attend. We suggest writing down questions that you may have about your pregnancy so that you can ask them during your appointment.
After the initial appointment, regular follow-up appointments allow our team to monitor the health and safety of the patient and fetus during each trimester of pregnancy. These appointments often require lab tests and ultrasounds for comprehensive care.
Each prenatal visit will monitor:
- The baby’s heart rate
- The baby’s anatomical development
- The parent’s blood pressure
- The parent’s blood sugar levels
- The parent’s weight gain
I want to get pregnant, but I’m in my late 30s. Should I do anything special?
Data suggests that birth rates are falling among women in their 20s while they are rising among women in their 30s. This means that more women are waiting to become first-time moms until they are in their 30s.
Typically, women in their late 30s and early 40s have a harder time getting pregnant naturally due to a reduced egg count. Furthermore, older parents are more likely to experience pre-, peri-, and postnatal complications.
Nonetheless, plenty of women in their 30s and 40s have perfectly healthy pregnancies that bear perfectly healthy babies. Here are a few ways you can ensure a healthy, safe, and successful pregnancy in your late 30s and early 40s:
- Seek fertility services to assess ovarian reserve
- Freeze healthy eggs to preserve their fidelity
- Pursue in vitro fertilization, if desired
- Get prenatal genetic screening to ensure proper fetal development
Schedule Your Prenatal Care in Peachtree City, GA
Whether you’re a first-time parent or an experienced guardian, you deserve exceptional care that prioritizes your health and your baby’s well-being.
Get the care you and your child deserve with our OBGYN and our compassionate team at Lifeboat Medical Associates by contacting us online here or by calling (770) 631-4873.