Eating healthy, leading a healthy lifestyle and antenatal care is essential to your well being and that of your baby. Staying healthy for you and your baby begin the moment you discover you are pregnant. In fact, you should schedule your first prenatal visit immediately.
Prenatal Care visits
Prenatal care visits are pretty straightforward and nothing to worry about. Your first prenatal visit will set out to determine your lifestyle, family health history, ethnic origins, how many weeks you have been pregnant and so forth. Throughout your pregnancy, your weight gain and blood pressure will be constantly monitored. You can make your partner a part of your prenatal visits and share some of the special moments – imagine being able to both experience hearing your baby’s heart beat or see your baby’s developing hands and feet with an ultrasound.
Antenatal visits are going to be a huge learning curb so take advantage of this moment to ask all the questions you have, learn more about parenting and dealing with any situations that could potentially stress you out. Don’t be embarrassed to bring family members, friends or partners to your visits – midwives highly encourage this.
Genetic Health of your baby
If you are planning to have a baby, many health practitioners suggest carrying out a genetic health test (known as preconception screening) to determine whether you and your partner are carriers of any hereditary illnesses that could be passed on to your child. This will especially help if you are aware of a condition which runs in the family, for example cystic fibrosis or sickle cell anemia. Of course, you will carrying out screening tests during your pregnancy but ultimately any parents would not want to be in their forth month of pregnancy and discover the baby might have developed a serious hereditary illness.
A number of DNA tests can be carried out during pregnancy (rather than preconception) to give an accurate indication of whether the fetus is developing healthily. The two main sample collection methods for these prenatal tests are through amniocentesis (carried out at around 13 weeks) and chorionic villus sampling (carried out at around 11 weeks). These prenatal DNA tests involve extraction of fetal DNA samples from inside the womb and have to be carried out by a specialist OBGYN.
Diet during pregnancy
Dieting is an important part of your prenatal care. Being pregnant does not however, mean doubling your calories intake and eating huge portions. This is in fact a wrong approach many women take which results in huge weight gain post birth. All you need is an extra 300 calories a day and rather than how much you eat, remember that what you eat is far more important. You need to make sure to include lots of whole meal bread, dairy products, fruits and lean meats. Taking vitamin and nutrient supplements should not be a replacement for eating health foods. The following are just two of the most important minerals.
Calcium: This is an extremely important mineral for pregnant women who should take around 1000mg per day. Remember your bones are mainly composed of calcium and your baby thus needs calcium to be able to build its own healthy bones. Not taking enough calcium could result in underdeveloped or weak bones and moreover, effects your very own bone health. You can get ample calcium by eating lots of dark green veg, low fat dairy products, pasteurized cheeses, almonds, tofu and much more.
Iron: oxygen must be carried around your body quickly and efficiently by your red blood cells. Iron is crucial for the transport of oxygen to all the body’s organs. Good sources include red meat, salmon, eggs, dried fruits and dark leave vegetables. Other important minerals include folic acid and omega 3 fatty acids. Always ensure to take in the required vitamins and minerals from your diet. Remember that supplements do not replace a healthy diet (hence, why they are called supplements). Also, do not start taking any supplements without having discussed this with your health practitioner as some supplements, such as vitamin A, are best avoided during pregnancy.