Pregnancy care comprises prenatal (before birth) and postpartum (after birth) healthcare for expectant mothers. It includes treatments and trainings to ensure a healthy pre-pregnancy, pregnancy, and labour and delivery for mother and baby.
Prenatal care helps mitigate risks during pregnancy and improves the chance of a safe and healthy delivery. Regular prenatal visits help the doctor monitor the pregnancy and identify problems or complications before they turn serious.
Babies born to mothers who do not get prenatal care have a higher chance of being born at a low birth weight. New-born babies with low birth weight are five times more likely to die than those whose mothers received prenatal care. Prenatal care begins three months before beginning the process of conceiving. Some healthy habits to follow during this period are:
- quit smoking and drinking alcohol
- take folic acid supplements daily
- talk to doctor about medical conditions, dietary supplements, and any over the counter or prescription drugs that you take
- avoid contact with toxic substances and chemicals at home or work
Schedule regular healthcare appointments through each stage of the pregnancy.
A schedule of visits includes seeing the doctor:
- every month in the first six months of pregnancy
- every two weeks in the seventh and eighth months of pregnancy
- every week during the ninth month of pregnancy
During these visits, your doctor will check the mother’s health and the health of the baby.
- routine tests and screenings like blood test to check for anemia, HIV, and blood type
- monitor blood pressure
- measure weight gain
- monitor the baby’s growth and heart rate
- talk about special diet and exercise
While most attention to pregnancy care focuses on the nine months of pregnancy, postpartum care is also important. The postpartum period lasts six to eight weeks, starting after the baby is born.
During this phase, the mother goes through physical and emotional changes while learning to care for the new-born. Postpartum care involves getting proper rest, nutrition, and vaginal care.