Once you conceive, regular prenatal care is very important to keep yourself and your developing baby healthy.
During your first prenatal visit, your OB/GYN may discuss the following things to help you to have a healthy pregnancy:
Updating Your Vaccination Status
Your OB/GYN will review your vaccination history with you at the first prenatal visit. Vaccinations can protect against many infections that can affect your health, the pregnancy, the fetus, and the newborn baby. Your OB/GYN will make sure you get the vaccines needed to be given before pregnancy.
Start Taking Folic Acid Daily
Start taking 400 micrograms (0.4 mg) of folic acid every day to reduce your baby’s risk of neural tube defects. Most prenatal vitamins contain 400 micrograms of folic acid.
Women who have had a child with neural tube defects before should take more (4 mg) folic acid daily before and during early pregnancy. They will reduce the risk of recurrence in a subsequent pregnancy.
In most developed countries, most grain-based food products, such as bread, cereal, pasta, and others fortified with folic acid.
Folic acid also occurs naturally in leafy, green vegetables, and orange juice in the form of folate.
Quitting Smoking, Alcohol, and Drugs
Smoking, drinking alcohol, and using street drugs during pregnancy increases your baby’s risk for problems such as fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASDs), sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), and many other problems.
Review Your Current Medications
Share the list of all medicines and supplements you are taking currently with your OB/GYN. Your OB/GYN will evaluate them and advise you to stop certain medicines, which can pose a serious risks to your growing baby. For example, certain OTC medications to treat acne and epilepsy and some dietary or herbal supplements can harm the fetus during pregnancy. Taking certain prescription pain medications, specifically opioids, during pregnancy can pose serious risks to the fetus.
If your OB/GYN asks you to stop any medicine to protect your baby, he/she will recommend different medicines.
Avoiding Exposure To Toxic Materials
Exposure to pesticides, some metals, radiation, and certain chemicals can cause miscarriage, premature birth, and birth defects. There is a chance of being around or coming into contact with some potentially harmful substances if you are working on a farm, a dry cleaner, a factory, a nail or hair salon. If you don’t know if something might be harmful to you or your fetus, avoid contact with it until you check with your health care provider. Request your OB/GYN to provide a list of harmful substances to avoid during pregnancy.
Eating A Healthy Diet
Adopt a healthy diet containing a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and low-fat dairy products to ensure your growing baby gets all the nutrients it needs. Also, drink plenty of water.
Avoiding Unsafe Foods
Make sure to avoid certain foods such as undercooked meat, deli meat, raw fish, and unpasteurized cheeses. Some examples of unpasteurized cheeses are Mexican-style soft cheeses, certain types of feta, and bleu cheese. Make a habit of checking the labels to make sure the cheese is pasteurized.
Some pregnant women are concerned about the amount of fish they can safely consume. Certain fish contain methylmercury when certain bacteria cause a chemical change in metallic mercury. Methylmercury is found in foods that fish eat, and it remains in the fish’s body after it is eaten. Methylmercury in fish eaten by pregnant women
Avoid eating fish containing high levels of methylmercury, which can harm a fetus’s developing nervous system. You can eat up to 12 ounces of fish a week that have low levels of methylmercury. Salmon, canned light tuna, and shrimp have less methylmercury. Avoid swordfish, king mackerel, and shark, which have high levels of methylmercury.
Limiting Caffeine Intake
Decrease caffeine intake, as some studies suggest that too much caffeine can increase the risk of miscarriage. Apart from coffee, tea, and soda other foods like chocolate also contain caffeine.
Exercise And Physical Activity
Regular exercise and physical activity helps you feel better, sleep better, and prepare your body for the upcoming delivery. You can continue regular exercise and physical activity during pregnancy. Your OB/GYN will suggest you about the amount and type of physical activity you can have based on your health condition.
Maintaining A Healthy Weight
Maintaining an ideal weight during pregnancy is important for you and your baby. Too much or too little weight during pregnancy increases the risk of problems for you and your baby. Follow a healthy diet and maintain regular physical activity to attain and maintain an ideal weight. Your OB/GYN will tell you how much weight is ideal for you based on your pre-pregnancy weight and BMI (body mass index). He/she will also tell you how much weight to gain or lose and how to do it.
Vitamin B12 And Iron Levels
Iron-deficiency anemia (low iron levels) is common during pregnancy. Anemia is associated with preterm birth and low birth weight. Your OB/GYN will check you for iron-deficiency anemia and recommend iron supplements if you have it. He/she will also recommend a vitamin B12 supplement to if you are a vegetarian.
Getting Regular Dental Checkups
Gums are known to become inflamed or infected because of hormonal changes and increased blood flow during pregnancy. Infections increase risks for problems during pregnancy. Get a dental checkup immediately after your pregnancy is confirmed to check for any infection.
Treating And Preventing Infections
Certain infections are known to adversely affect pregnancy and the developing baby. Make sure to get medical treatment right away for any infection before or during pregnancy.