You’re having a baby! Prenatal care should start as early as you get the big news to facilitate a smooth pregnancy. Step one is scheduling an appointment with a board-certified obstetrician or midwife within the first 6 weeks to ensure you are receiving the appropriate medical care for you and your baby.
What should I expect at my first prenatal appointment?
In the first prenatal care visit, most obstetricians and midwives will do a routine physical exam, including a pelvic exam with ultrasound, to confirm a viable pregnancy with correct implantation. You should also expect routine blood work, urine samples, weight and blood pressure measurements. Once your pregnancy is confirmed, your health care provider will provide you with important steps for a healthy pregnancy.
Is there a special diet I should be on while I am pregnant? Are there foods I should avoid?
When you are pregnant, the typical recommendation is to consume 200 – 300 extra calories from nutrient rich foods. Depending on your health status prior to pregnancy, your healthcare provider may suggest modifications. General guidelines include:
- A diet rich in protein, low fat dairy, fresh vegetables and fruits.
- Foods that contain calcium, vitamin D, folic acid, iron, and DHA.
- Caffeine consumption is ok in moderation (equivalent of 2-ounce cups of coffee).
- Avoid foods that are high in sodium and sugar.
- To prevent infection, avoid aged and soft cheese, hot dogs, luncheon meats, raw fish and other foods that are at higher risk for food borne pathogens (i.e., raw egg, mayonnaise, undercooked meat).
- It is very important to avoid alcohol while pregnant. Research suggests that the avoidance of all alcohol during pregnancy produces better outcomes than babies exposed to alcohol during pregnancy.
It is important to note that you should not be dieting while pregnant. General weight gain with pregnancy is normal. The average overall weight gain in a healthy pregnancy is 15-35 pounds. If you start your pregnancy overweight or obese, or you are concerned with too little or too much weight gain, please discuss your concerns with your health care provider.
What other things should I include in prenatal care?
It is important for self-care all the time, especially during pregnancy, by being mindful of your sleep hygiene, stress levels, and overall wellness.
Get rest! If you are feeling tired, listen to your body and take time to rest. Aim to get 8-10 hours of sleep at night. If you are having trouble sleeping, your health care provider can offer suggestions.
Pay attention to your levels of stress – physical and emotional stress can stress the infant. Take time for meditation, prenatal yoga and stretching. If you were physically active before your pregnancy, it is ok to maintain your exercise regimen – regular activity promotes a healthy pregnancy and labor. You can also participate in prenatal massage or work with a chiropractor to help maintain your alignment and overall wellness.
If you have any concerns, questions or need guidance for referrals, speak to your health care provider.
Most importantly, enjoy this very special time as you create a life.