Taking care of yourself has never been more important now that you are pregnant. Staying healthy during pregnancy is all up to you. It is of great importance to learn about the many ways to keep you and your baby as healthy as possible.
Your very first step in protecting the health of your unborn child and yourself is to get regular prenatal care. Call your health care provider to schedule an appointment. Your first examination should be during the first 6 to 8 weeks of pregnancy, usually about when your menstrual period is 2 to 4 weeks late.
What will happen on this first visit?
• Your health care provider will figure out how many weeks pregnant you are. He or she will base this number on a physical examination and the date of your last period. • Your health care provider will use this information to predict your delivery date (an ultrasound sometime during your pregnancy will verify the date).
How often will you see your health care provider after the first visit? If you are healthy and have no complicating risk factors, you will see your health care provider:
• Every 4 weeks until the 28th week of pregnancy • Then every 2 weeks until 36 weeks • Then once a week until delivery
What will happen during the subsequent health care provider visits?
You can expect your health care provider to:
• Check your weight and blood pressure • Check the growth and development of your baby
How does the health care provider determine the growth and development of the baby?
During your visits he or she will:
• Feel your abdomen • Listen for the fetal heartbeat starting during the second trimester • Measure your belly
What else can you expect your health care provider to do during the span of your pregnancy?
You will have prenatal tests that include:
• Blood tests • Urine tests • Cervical tests • At least one ultrasound
What health care options are available for pregnant women today?
There are several health care options that include:
• Obstetricians/gynecologist (also known as OB/GYNs, who are doctors who specialize in pregnancy and childbirth and women’s health care) • Family practitioners (are doctors who provide a variety of services for patients of all ages and in some cases, this includes obstetrical care) • Certified nurse-midwives: An advanced practice nurse specializing in women’s health care needs, prenatal care, labor and delivery, and postpartum care for “normal” pregnancies.
If you decide to see a midwife, you should look for one with formal training and who is certified in the field.
As long as you are healthy and there are no risk complications associated with your pregnancy any of the above choices are good. However, nurse-midwives need to have a doctor for the delivery. A doctor will be able to handle unexpected problems that may arise or a cesarean section.
Nutrition and Supplements during Pregnancy
On the average you will need about 300 extra calories per day. This is especially true later in your pregnancy when your baby grows quickly. If you start out a pregnancy very thin or you are carrying twins, expect to need even more calories per day. However, if you are overweight, your health care provider may advise you to consume fewer extra calories.
Pregnancy is a time more than ever in your life to eat healthy. It is very important to make sure your calories come from nutritious foods. You want every bite you eat to contribute to your baby’s growth and development as well as to your own health and well being. Don’t fill yourself with junk foods and leave no room for the foods that can actually benefit you at this time. Concentrate upon a well-balanced diet that includes the dietary guidelines such as:
If you stick with the above you will most likely get the nutrients you need, however, you will most definitely need “more” of the essential nutrients such as calcium, iron and folic acid during your pregnancy. You can expect your health care provider to prescribe prenatal vitamins. Don’t be fooled by the prenatal vitamins and think this is all you need. Prenatal vitamins are only to “supplement” your already healthy diet and are not meant to be your only source of much-needed nutrients.
Calcium is always important for women, however, during pregnancy, your growing baby’s calcium demands are high as well. Your health care provider will most likely prescribe prenatal vitamins that contain some extra calcium. Other good sources of calcium include:
• Low-fat dairy products including milk, cheese, and yogurt • Calcium-fortified products, including orange juice, soy milk, and cereals • Dark green vegetables including spinach, kale, and broccoli • Tofu • Dried beans • Almonds
Continued in Part 2
Source: Nemours Foundation Online
Disclaimer: These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. The information in this article is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. All health concerns should be addressed by a qualified health care professional.
By Connie Limon
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