• Health Awareness Series: March 2019 - Preconception Health and Prenatal Care

    Date: 3/19/2019 06:45:56 PM

    If you’re trying to get pregnant, taking care of your health all year is a great way to give your baby the best chance of being healthy.

    Think of a healthy pregnancy in two parts:  

    • Preconception health: taking care of yourself before you are pregnant, and
    • Prenatal care: taking care of yourself while you are pregnant.

    Preconception health is about a person’s health before they get pregnant. Here are some important things to keep in mind:

    • If you are trying to get pregnant, take 400-800 micrograms of folic acid a day. Folic acid is a vitamin that may stop birth defects. Start at least 3 months before you get pregnant.
    • Talk to your doctor about family planning or birth control if you are not ready to get pregnant.
    • Ask your doctor how to plan your family. There are many birth control methods that you can choose from.
    • Stop smoking and drinking alcohol.
    • Talk to your doctor about any prescription and over the counter medicines or supplements you are taking. Some may be bad for the baby if you get pregnant.
    • Be sure your vaccinations are up to date. Certain diseases, like German measles and chickenpox, can hurt your baby if you become sick with them while you’re pregnant.
    • Let your doctor know if you have a long-term illness like diabetes or asthma.
    • Make healthy food choices and stay at a healthy weight. Talk to your doctor about your best way to be physically active.
    • Go to the dentist and take care of your teeth and gums.
    • Talk to your doctor about earlier pregnancies; also, discuss health problems that run in your family.

    Prenatal care is the health care that you get while you’re pregnant. It is important that both you and your baby stay strong and healthy. Good prenatal care can catch health problems early, making it easier for you to take care of them. Remember to:

    • Start your prenatal care early, as soon as you know you are pregnant.
    • See your doctor or midwife on a regular basis. Keep all your appointments for as long as you’re pregnant.
    • Follow your doctor’s advice. Be sure to ask questions if you’re unsure of anything.

    Eat well when you are pregnant. Eat a well-balanced diet. Choose fruits, vegetables, whole grains, calcium-rich foods, and foods low in saturated fat. Ask your doctor what type of fish you can eat. Drink plenty of fluids, especially water.

    • Take Note: “Eating for two” is a myth. You only need about 300 more calories each day. Keep at a healthy weight through your pregnancy: don’t eat two times the amount of food you are now eating!

    Stay physically active. Being active is just as important when you’re pregnant as it is throughout your lifetime. Unless your doctor tells you not to, try to get at least 30 minutes of aerobic activity daily. Talk to your doctor about what would work for you. If you are new to exercising, start slowly.

    For more information visit:
    The Office on Women's Health (OWH): https://www.womenshealth.gov/

    Sources:
    US Department of Health and Human Services Office on Women’s Health, “Prenatal Fact Sheet”: https://www.womenshealth.gov/publications/our-publications/fact-sheet/prenatal-care.html
    US Department of Health and Human Services Office, National Institutes of Health, “What is Prenatal Care and why is it Important?: https://www.nichd.nih.gov/health/topics/pregnancy/conditioninfo/pages/prenatal-care.aspx

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