Is there anything more beautiful and fulfilling than motherhood? No. Just think about having a mini you run around the house in a few years’ time. Is pregnancy really a bed of roses? Also no. There are actually many things to remember and execute for a proper prenatal care. This may sound scary but, fret not! We’re here to help you. Consider this article as a guide for taking care of yourself and your baby during pregnancy.
Let’s get right to it!
Prenatal care is all about maintaining a lifestyle that’ll be most beneficial to you. That includes visiting the doctor regularly and living healthy. It’s wise to create appointments with your doctor during the first stages of pregnancy.
What to Expect
Your doctor will note down your medical history and everything else that is important. For instance, weight and blood pressure are recorded on every visit.
On the first visit, your doctor will take a blood and urine sample. It’s to check if there are any bacteria present in your urine. High sugar levels and high protein levels may indicate diabetes or a high blood pressure.
A blood sample is taken to check your blood type, blood cell count, iron levels, and the presence of any infectious diseases i.e. Hepatitis, HIV, syphilis.
Types of Tests
The doctor may carry out other tests during the first time too. They’ll help keep track of your health all throughout the pregnancy.
These tests may include:
- Pelvic exam – It’s to check the shape and size of your womb
- A Pap smear – To check for cervical cancer
- An ultrasound – To see your baby’s or babies’ position and growth every month you go for a check-up.
Doctors usually schedule a prenatal visit every month after your first visit.
When you reach 7/8 months you’ll have to visit every 2 weeks. In your last month, the visits will be scheduled every week until you deliver the baby.
Remember, prenatal care is very important if you want to have a healthy pregnancy. The doctors will check your weight and blood pressure every time. They’ll measure your baby’s heartbeat and uterus.
Whatever concerns you have, openly discuss it with your doctor. Following the proper guideline will go a long way for you and your baby.
Weight and Diet
Now that we’ve had a basic idea about prenatal care, let’s focus more on your body and what changes you have to make. Weight and diet are just the beginning.
There are some common guidelines you should follow during pregnancy. Maintain a healthy diet as it’s crucial for your’s and your baby’s health during this time.
Consult your doctor about how much weight you need to gain. Not every pregnant woman is the same, everybody has different body types. But gaining 25 to 30 pounds is the most commonly advised.
It depends on whether you’re underweight or overweight. You must gain more if you’re the former, and gain less if you’re the latter. Sounds simple enough?
What you should eat comes next. Following a balanced diet is the smartest idea for you right now. That being said, you do need to be careful about what’s good for you and what’s not.
Uncooked meat or eggs is a bad idea at this time. Avoid having fish too often. 2/3 portions per week are fine. Also, avoid fish that have a high level of mercury in them, it can be fatal for the baby.
- Fruit and vegetables
Wash the fruits and vegetables properly before eating them. Keep utensils and cutting boards clean too.
4 or more portions of dairy every day are fine. They’ll provide calcium for both of you. Do not have raw milk. This can cause you bacterial infections. Soft cheeses such as feta, brie, and blue cheese, or any kind of cheese that is made of raw milk, avoid them.
- Sugar substitutes
Artificial sweeteners are fine to have but only in moderation.
Keep your caffeine intake at a minimum. It’s best if you just avoid it completely.
Medicine and Vitamins
It’s always wise to consult your doctor first before you decide to take any medication while you’re pregnant.
Painkillers, over the counter medications, and prescriptions should be verified by your doctor before you take them. There are medicines that may cause birth defects. So, be careful.
Many doctors recommend a daily intake of folic acid every day. They are known to avert complications with your baby’s spine and brain. 400 micrograms should be just the right dose. Prenatal vitamins include folic acid as well. Taking them before getting pregnant is also smart.
If someone suggests a vitamin or mineral to you, take it up with your doctor first. Best not to take anything without their advice or approval.
Work and Health
Often times we don’t realize the amount of pressure and stress we experience while we’re working. How it affects our health is vital to look out for. Especially, now that you have a little human growing inside you.
If you’re a person who has an active job and has to work late, then you may need to slow down a bit. Long working hours vary from person to person.
Your work environment plays a significant role during this time as well. Radiation, lead, copper, mercury, or other materials may turn out to be harmful to your baby.
If you have a desk job, then you’re good to go. But don’t rest your laptop on your stomach or uterus.
Getting regular exercise while you’re pregnant is very beneficial. It’ll drive you to have a healthy lifestyle and help you feel more comfortable.
Exercising just 30 minutes every day can do wonders for you. Do keep in mind to consult your doctor before attempting any strenuous exercise.
If you’re not accustomed to working out regularly, start slow. Don’t jump in completely. Walking or swimming are two great exercises you can take up. Of course, you must avoid extreme sports and exercises.
Keep in mind to confer with your doctor if you’re facing the following symptoms while working out:
- Blurry vision
- Chest pains
- Stomach pains
Remember to keep yourself hydrated to avert dehydration. It’s said that exercising during this time can help with labor and delivery.
This is also a very common question most pregnant women ask. It’s perfectly safe to have sex when you’re pregnant. Women’s interest in having sex changes as well.
Try out positions that won’t harm you or your baby. For instance, lie on your side or be on top. If you have some concerns about having sex, talk to your doctor to avoid any problems.
Common Symptoms and Their Solutions
During pregnancies, women have a lot of symptoms. From morning sickness to constipation, there’s no end to it. Here are some more symptoms and solutions to look out for:
Vomiting and nausea are going to be very common during the first few months. You never know when you’ll have the urge to vomit. Break your meals down into smaller portions and you’ll see the results in no time.
Oily, spicy or acidic food should be avoided. Have a good control over yourself and you’ll be a little less nauseous. Eat bland food like crackers instead.
If your morning sickness lasts over the first 3 months or if you’re losing weight, visit the doctor for a check-up.
Fatigue and Leg Cramps
Fatigue and leg cramps are very common signs as well. Make sure you get enough rest, take a nap earlier in the day if you can. Anemia may be a reason for your fatigue, so consult with your doctor right away. If you exercise regularly, leg cramps won’t be a big deal. Stretch your calf muscles and be active. That’s all you need!
Constipation, Hemorrhoids, and Urinating
Fiber and fluids are crucial during this time. Fruits and vegetables are the perfect choices to have a healthy bowel movement. Laxatives may be too extreme, try taking stool softeners instead. To avoid being constipated, make sure you don’t strain yourself during a visit to the bathroom. Use baby wipes to clean yourself up rather than toilet papers. Urinating will become a part of your life while you’re pregnant. As your baby is growing, he/she is pushing up against your bladder. So, be ready to run to the nearest toilet when nature calls!
Look into clothes that are specially designed for pregnant women. Maternity clothing will give you enough breathing room. Avoid tight clothing altogether and take plenty of rest. Try not to stay on your feet for too long, doing so may cause varicose veins. Talk to your doctor about a proper support system.
Moodiness and Heartburns
Let’s face it, your hormones are going to be all over the place during your pregnancy. On top of that, you’re going through a major change in your life. It’s easy to be stressed out and anxious. Give yourself a break and seek help if you feel too hopeless.
Remember, smaller meals and less acidic and oily food will prevent having heartburns. Use pillows to elevate your head when sleeping to avoid them during the night as well.
It’s not wise to lie down directly after eating, consult your doctor before having antacids.
Yeast infections, Bleeding Gums and Nosebleeds
During pregnancy, discharge from your vagina might be very common. So is a yeast infection. If your discharge has an unusual change or smell, consult your doctor right away. Taking care of your oral hygiene is essential as well. Remember to brush and floss regularly, and visit the dentist for cleaning. This way, you’ll be able to avoid gum bleeding.
Nosebleeds may also make an appearance while you’re pregnant. Don’t worry, this usually happens because of the changes in estrogen levels.
Skin Changes and Edema
To avoid having Edema, put your legs up when you’re resting. It’ll help the blood to flow from your heart to your legs. You can sleep on your side to help make your blood flow much easier. Stretch marks. Another thing you have to accept occurring on your body. Fear not, relieve yourself from having itchy and red skin by using a moisturizing lotion. Shea butter is just perfect for this situation.
There may be other skin changes during this time. Skin darkening around the nipples, and around your face. It may appear below the belly button as well.
Use a sunscreen and try not to stay too long out in the sun. Most of these changes will fade after the pregnancy, so don’t worry too much!
Thoughts and Concerns
Smoking, drugs, and alcohol may cause premature birth, miscarriages and birth defects. Avoid them completely. Being healthy and conscious during your pregnancy is far more important.
Make sure you always keep your appointments and take proper care of yourself. Your baby needs it just as much as you do.
You may not see the big picture right away, but months from now you’ll see the result when you’re blessed with a healthy baby. Consult with your doctor regularly, and give yourself a break!
Stepheny is a content writer at FeedFond. She’s a loving mother to her two children and is passionate towards psychology and philosophy. To read more of her articles, visit FeedFond.com.
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