Did You Know After Four Months, Your Baby…
- is the size of your palm and weighs about five ounces?
- is practicing suckling and swallowing in preparation for breast feeding?
- has grown hair, eyebrows and eyelashes?
- can wiggle his or her fingers and toes?
You are probably familiar with the term "prenatal care," but do you know exactly what it means?
Prenatal care is the medical care you receive while pregnant, which ensures that all precautions are taken to have a healthy pregnancy.
It is important to receive prenatal care early and regularly during your pregnancy. To cover prenatal care expenses, you may look into private insurance, Medicaid and WIC; and if you are considering adoption, an adoption professional or adoptive family can cover your prenatal care expenses.
The following is some important information to know about prenatal care:
1. Choosing a Health Care Provider
If you haven't already, finding a health care provider whom you are comfortable with is an important step toward a healthy pregnancy. You have several options to choose from:
- Obstetrician-Gynecologist (OB/GYN) - Specializes in pregnancy and the female reproduction system.
- Family Practitioner - Able to provide regular prenatal care, but will typically refer irregular pregnancies to a licensed OB/GYN.
- Certified Nurse Midwife - Registered nurses who provide prenatal care in a more personal environment, and may offer extra support and counseling prior to and after the birth.
2. What to Expect at a Prenatal Visit
Oftentimes, your first prenatal care visit will be the longest. Your health care provider will:
- perform a general physical exam, pelvic exam and Pap smear.
- take a blood and urine sample.
- ask you questions about your health history and your family's health histories.
- allow you to ask questions.
- estimate your due date.
Follow-up prenatal care visits should take place once a month until 28 weeks of pregnancy. Then, you will see your health care provider at least twice every month, increasing in frequency up to your due date.
These remaining prenatal visits will usually be shorter, with your health care provider checking your blood pressure, listening to the baby's heart rate and measuring your weight gain. Your doctor may also recommend an ultrasound around this time of your pregnancy.
3. Taking Care of Yourself
How you treat your body is vital to your baby's wellbeing. Your health care provider will most likely recommend the following:
- Prenatal Vitamins - Folic acid is a B vitamin that promotes healthy brain and spine development. Pregnant women are recommended to take a prenatal vitamin with 400 to 800 micrograms of folic acid every day.
- Healthy Eating - Be sure to eat plenty of vegetables, fruits, whole grains and foods high in calcium
- Healthy Living - Avoid smoking, drinking alcohol and other substances. Also, if you are currently on medication or need medication for an illness, be sure to check with your health care provider to make sure it is safe to use while pregnant.
- Rest - Get plenty of sleep, and try your best to lead a stress-free lifestyle.
Receiving prenatal care is easily the best way to ensure you have a healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby. One of the most important benefits of prenatal care is that your health care provider will be able to detect any complications and address them early on in your pregnancy.
If you are currently not receiving prenatal care, remember that it is never too late to begin. Contact your health care provider for more information about prenatal care and insurance. If you are considering adoption, an adoption professional can help you get started receiving prenatal care at no expense to you.