Prenatal Care: Taking Care of Yourself and Your Baby before Shes Born

One of the most frequent questions women ask about prenatal care is when they should begin receiving it. In reality, the best time to begin prenatal care is right now, even if you aren’t even pregnant yet. Whether you are still trying to conceive or in your third trimester, prenatal care can greatly benefit both you and your baby. Many of the things you will receive for prenatal care can even be carried over after your baby is born, while you are breastfeeding.

If you are not yet pregnant, you can still do several things to prepare yourself for pregnancy. Start by eating a healthy, balanced diet, and exercising regularly. Exercise is good for you and for your baby during a pregnancy, but it can be difficult to start an exercise regimen after you become pregnant. Most doctors agree that you can continue most forms of exercise while you are pregnant under normal conditions as long as you feel you are able to do so, but adding new exercise regimens is not generally recommended. In addition to healthy diet and exercise, consider taking an appropriate multivitamin.

When you suspect that you might be pregnant, you should set up a visit with your doctor. Of course, you can confirm your pregnancy with a pregnancy test first. But even if you do, your doctor will test you to see if you are, in fact, pregnant, and to make sure that everything is progressing as it should at this early stage. Your doctor will likely talk to you about your diet.

While many people will tell you that you’re eating for two now, there’s not need to eat much more than you normally do. You are eating for two, but one of the ones you’re eating for is very small, so even at the height of your pregnancy, you’ll only need an extra 300 Calories or so.

During this time, your doctor will set up a schedule for visits, so that you can receive regular prenatal care. Make it a point not to miss any of your scheduled visits. If you are unable to make a scheduled visit, reschedule it as soon as possible. Your doctor will set up your visits at strategic times throughout your pregnancy so that she can monitor your health and your baby’s health and development.

You will likely be prescribed prenatal vitamins. Take them as directed. Your body will need the nutrients. If you smoke, stop smoking. Your doctor can suggest a number of methods to help you stop if you are having trouble quitting. You should also avoid alcohol completely, and cut down to 1 cup of coffee or one caffeinated soda per day.

Leila Pereira
Leila Pereira
I work in occupational therapy and occupational science. I specialize in early intervention pediatrics for children from birth to three years old; with an emphasis on children with autism. My goals are to support the achievement of developmental milestones in your child while collaborating with caregivers & parents; including play skill development, education, leisure, rest and sleep, feeding, nutrition and social participation. Licensed by the California Board of Occupational Therapy

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