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Prenatal Care

Prenatal care is vital for the health of a mother and baby and significantly reduces risk factors associated with pregnancy and childbirth. Prenatal care includes nutrition counseling, ultrasounds, and routine diagnostic testing to identify and treat complications early. Many women suffer from complications such as high blood pressure, gestational diabetes, blood type problems, and STIs.

It is imperative for the success of a pregnancy to seek a healthcare provider who specializes in prenatal, delivery, and postpartum services. Family practitioners and midwives handle most normal pregnancies while perinatalogists specialize in high-risk pregnancies.

Prenatal Care Goals:
  • Monitor progress of pregnancy
  • Assess risk factors
  • Provide nutritional counseling
  • Recommend or restrict certain activities and/or exercises
  • Discuss common pregnancy symptoms and discomfort
  • Prescribe medication when needed

Folic Acid:
Folic acid is a vitamin of the B complex found in many leafy green vegetables. It is used to make extra blood in the body to sustain a growing baby. Folic acid intake during gestation is very important to improve heart health and prevent serious birth defects. Women planning pregnancy, or who are currently pregnant, should eat a nutritious diet and take folic acid supplements. Many obstetricians will prescribe prenatal vitamins in conjunction with a folic acid supplement to encourage a healthy pregnancy. The amount of folic acid prescribed varies from patient and is determined by risk factors and genetic disposition.

Use of Medication:
Pregnant women are advised to discontinue use of all medications, unless otherwise cleared by the authorizing healthcare provider. Pregnant women should also avoid alcohol, drugs, and smoking to prevent serious birth defects, illnesses, and abnormalities that may result. Caffeine, herbal preparations, and even over-the-counter medications should be strictly limited to avoid interference with the developing fetus.

Prenatal Exams:
Prenatal visits are usually scheduled every six weeks during your first trimester and every two to four weeks from 28 to 36 weeks of gestation. After 36 weeks until delivery, appointments are scheduled weekly.

During a routine exam, a physician or nurse practitioner will record and changes in weight, blood pressure, fundal height, and baby’s heart beat. Routine urine screening and blood work may be requested upon visits as well.

Prenatal Massage:
Massage may be beneficial during pregnancy. Talk to your doctor about the benefits of massage and then call Vir tú, Virtua's day spa for an appointment. You can also buy gift cards online.

When to call your doctor:
You should call your doctor if you are pregnant, or think you may be pregnant, and are not already receiving prenatal care. Other issues that warrant a phone call to your healthcare provider include taking medicines for diabetes, seizures, or high blood pressure while pregnant, not being able to manage pregnancy symptoms without intervention, or having been exposed to sexually transmitted infections, chemicals, or radiation.

Call your doctor immediately if you are pregnant and experience fever, chills, painful urination, vaginal bleeding, emotional trauma, severe abdominal pain, ruptured membranes, or notice the baby is moving less or not at all.

Learn more about how to care for your baby before he or she is even born! Topics include:

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