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The Importance of Prenatal Care

Almost 4 million American women give birth every year, says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Nearly one third of them will have some kind of pregnancy-related complication. Those who don’t get adequate prenatal care run the risk that such complications will go undetected or won’t be dealt with soon enough. That, in turn, can lead to potentially serious consequences for both the mother and her baby.

These statistics aren’t meant to be alarming, but to convey the importance of starting prenatal care as early as possible — ideally, before a woman even becomes pregnant.

Of course, this isn’t always possible or practical. But the sooner in a pregnancy good care begins, the better for the health of both moms and their babies.
Prenatal Care Before Becoming Pregnant

Ideally, prenatal care should start before you get pregnant. If you’re planning a pregnancy, see your health care provider for a complete checkup. Routine testing can make sure you’re in good health and that you don’t have any illnesses or other conditions that could affect your pregnancy. If you’ve been experiencing any unusual symptoms, this is a good time to report them.

If you’re already being treated for a chronic condition, such as diabetes, asthma, hypertension (high blood pressure), a heart problem, allergies, lupus (an inflammatory disorder that can affect several body systems), depression, or some other condition, you should talk to your doctor about how it could affect your pregnancy.

In some cases, you may need to change or eliminate medications — especially during the first trimester (12 weeks) — to reduce risk to the fetus. Or, you may need to be even more vigilant about managing your condition. For example, women with diabetes must be especially careful about keeping their blood glucose levels under control, both before they begin trying to conceive and during their pregnancy. Abnormal levels increase the risk of birth defects and other complications.

This is also a good time to talk with your health care provider about other habits that can pose a risk to your baby, such as drinking alcohol or smoking. Ask about starting a prenatal vitamin that contains folic acid, calcium, and iron.

It’s especially important for women who are planning to become pregnant to take vitamins with folic acid beforehand, because neural tube defects (problems with the normal development of the spine and nervous system) happen in the first 28 days of pregnancy, often before a woman even knows she’s pregnant.

If you have or your partner has a family history of a significant genetic disorder and you suspect either of you may be a carrier, then genetic testing may be advisable. Talk this over with your health care provider, who can refer you to a genetic counselor if necessary.

If you find out that you’re pregnant before you do any of this, don’t worry. It’s not too late to get the care that will help to ensure your health and that of your baby.

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Mark Matthews says:

This is great for our wife to be healthy and also for the baby inside her
stomach ..

Satiffi g says:

Hi, This program is very good and educational. Can you please do a program
on prenatal yoga? Yoga that can be done by a pregnant women. Thanks.

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