You just realized there’s a full human developing in your uterus! How do you feel about the news? Joyful? Excited? Stressed? Worried? Pregnancy can bring with it a mixture of emotions and that’s normal. What is of most importance is how to take care of your health if you decide to keep the pregnancy. Remember, how healthy your baby is going to grow is entirely dependent on how well you take care of your health. It is advisable to schedule an appointment with your doctor as soon as you find out you are pregnant, or when your period is 2-4 weeks late. Early and regular visits to your doctor when you are pregnant will help you keep a closer look on how well your pregnancy progresses. It will also help your doctor deal with any issue as soon as it arises.
Usually, prenatal visits will be scheduled monthly within the first 28 weeks, fortnightly until 36 weeks, then weekly until delivery. However, your doctor may schedule your visits differently, especially if your pregnancy is a high risk one.
The aim of prenatal care is to provide good care for the expectant woman and her unborn child, and also prepare the pregnant woman for a healthy delivery of her baby. During prenatal visits, the doctor carries out different tests on both the mother and the baby to check if the pregnancy is progressing as it should and check for any potential risks. Guidance and counseling is also offered during these visits. The following are some of the tests that will be carried out during prenatal visits:
- Blood pressure
- Physical examination of the mother – swelling of hands, feet, etc.
- Blood tests
- Urine tests to measure sugar and protein levels
- Pelvic exam to check the measurement of the uterus
Aside from visiting your healthcare provider, it is important to take care of yourself in other ways too:
- Exercise regularly. Dedicate at least 30 minutes of exercise daily. Generally, exercise helps in the maintenance of a healthy lifestyle. It also works to ease discomfort such as backaches. Walking and swimming are good examples of exercises that will help you during pregnancy.
- Eat a balanced diet. Your meals should consist of nutrients such as folic acid, protein, iron and calcium. Limit your intake of junk and processed foods.
- Check with your doctor before taking any medication, especially pain relievers. Some medicines may be harmful to your fetus.
- Take good care of your mental health. Meditate and do yoga whenever necessary. Avoid unnecessary stress and get enough sleep and rest.
- By all means, don’t smoke, drink alcohol, or use any drugs. This should carry on even when you are breastfeeding.