Prenatal Care – Caring for Yourself and Your Baby Before They are Born

Posted at 11:32 PM on May 14, 2022


You have discovered you are pregnant!  After being elated with joy, it is time to start planning. There are many decisions to make, such as the nursery's color and naming the baby, but it is also time to think about how to keep you and your baby healthy while he is growing inside of you.

What is Prenatal Care?

Prenatal care is crucial for the delivery of a healthy baby. This type of care includes regular checkups throughout your pregnancy to keep you and your baby healthy. These appointments will begin as soon as you know you are pregnant.  However, pre-pregnancy appointments can begin before conception to help with planning.

Prenatal care visits generally occur:

  • Every 4 for the first 28 weeks

  • Every 2 weeks from 28-36 weeks

  • Every week from the 36th week until delivery

However, the frequency of visits will vary from individual to individual.

After the first prenatal visit when we get to know you and your family, prenatal care is focused on an ongoing evaluation of the health status of mother and baby, ongoing counseling about changes in your body during and after delivery, managing any issues that arise, anticipation of problems, and interventions to help prevent pregnancy and birth complications.  Each visit, we listen to baby’s heartbeat, measure your growing belly to assess baby’s growth, and talk about what to expect in the coming weeks.  We also sometimes order blood tests and ultrasounds as needed and closely monitor your weight gain and blood pressure.  We help and support  you every step of the way.

Prenatal Care – Caring for Yourself During Pregnancy

Many expectant mothers are focused on their baby's health and may forget that their health is just as important. While regular prenatal visits are essential, there are many other lifestyle factors to consider that help both you and baby healthy.

Tips for Caring for Yourself During Pregnancy:

  • Follow a healthy eating pattern – Aim to eat whole-natural foods and try to limit sugar, fast, and processed foods.

  • Eat the correct number of calories – 

    • First trimester (1-13 weeks) – Most women don’t need any extra calories.

    • Second trimester (14 to 27 weeks) – Most women need about 200-300 extra calories a day. 

    • Third trimester (28 to 40+ weeks) – Most women need about 500 extra calories a day.

  • Stay hydrated – Your body needs more water than usual when pregnant.  At least 64-80 ounces per day.

  • Keep moving – Stay active during your pregnancy, but it’s essential to speak you’re your doctor about the appropriate level of exercise during pregnancy.  In general, we advise that it is ok to maintain the same level of physical activity during pregnancy as prior to getting pregnant.  If you were mostly sedentary prior to getting pregnant, we recommend a daily walking schedule of 30-45 minutes per day for most mothers.

  • Make sleep a priority – Most adults need 7-9 hours of sleep nightly to perform optimally.  This may increase slightly during pregnancy.

  • Self-care – Make yourself a priority by still taking time for yourself and doing things you enjoy.

  • Manage and reduce stress – Begin a daily mindfulness/meditation practice to better manage stress-causing situations when possible.

  • Planning – If possible, try to plan your pregnancy when you are at the healthiest point in your life. This can increase your chances of having a healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby.

Prenatal Care – Caring for Your Baby During Pregnancy

Keeping yourself healthy is one of the best ways to keep your growing baby healthy. In addition to the tips listed above, you may also want to consider the following:

  • Eat seafood sparingly, choosing types low in mercury - Canned light tuna, catfish, cod, herring, oysters, salmon, shrimp, tilapia, and trout are excellent options.

  • Avoid raw or rare meats.

  • Avoid unpasteurized foods

  • Take a prenatal vitamin with folic acid, iron, and iodine every day.  It is an added bonus if your prenatal contains DHA as well.  An extra daily vitamin D supplement of about 2000 IU can also be helpful.

  • Don’t drink alcohol or smoke.

Finding a Doctor for Prenatal Care

If you plan to become pregnant or are currently pregnant, we are here to help. At Northwest Family Clinics, we have several physicians who specialize in providing life-long care starting at conception.  We can take care of you before you get pregnant, throughout your prenatal care during pregnancy, deliver your baby, and take care of both you and baby after deliver.  Family doctors are the only doctors who are trained to give this breadth of medical care.  And for the doctors at Northwest Family who deliver babies, it is one of the most rewarding parts of the medical care we offer.  We encourage you to schedule an appointment today for your prenatal care.