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Women's Health - Prenatal Care

Pregnancy is a very special time for women. Everything you do can have an effect on your baby. It's important to make healthy choices and to see your doctor as soon as you think you may be pregnant. And it's just as important to see your doctor for regular visits throughout your pregnancy.

What is the first visit like?

Your first prenatal appointment will probably last about an hour. Your doctor will take your medical history and probably ask how you're feeling. Your doctor will confirm you are pregnant with a urine test and a pelvic exam. You will receive a complete physical examination and more lab tests will be done. Urine and blood tests may be done at the first visit and again later. You will also receive at each visit a blood pressure reading, weight check and a check of the size and position of your baby.

How often you'll need visits will depend on your doctor. You'll probably have monthly visits until your 32 weeks (some doctors will begin bimonthly visits closer to your 32 weeks) and weekly visits starting at 32 weeks.

What should I eat when I'm pregnant?

When you feed yourself, you have to remember that you're feeding your baby as well. So try to eat a healthy and well-balanced diet. This means having plenty of fruits and vegetables, whole grain breads and cereals, and dairy products. You also want to limit the amount of fatty foods and sweets you eat. Try to drink at least six to eight glasses of water, fruit juice or milk a day. Please remember that a calcium-rich diet is essential for expectant mothers and their babies. Throughout your pregnancy eat dairy products (milk, ice cream, puddings, cheese) or take calcium supplements daily.

Doctors now state that pregnant women should have NO alcohol while they are pregnant. This includes that small glass of wine that was once thought safe to have every now and then. The same is true for tobacco. Using alcohol, tobacco or any other drugs can be very harmful to you and your baby! If you smoke, itís not too late to quit. Ask your healthcare provider for help. Also, check with your doctor before taking any vitamins or herbal products.

Do not eat raw eggs, raw meat of any kind (including fish) or non-pasteurized soft cheeses or apple cider. These items can give you a food-borne illness.

Should I exercise while I'm pregnant?

Exercising while you're pregnant can have wonderful benefits. If you stay active you will feel better. It can lessen your discomfort and fatigue, enhance your well-being and help you recover faster after delivery.

Swimming, walking and riding a stationary exercise bike are the safest exercises for pregnant women. But be sure to check with your doctor before you start exercising.

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