It seems like from the second you utter, “We’re pregnant!” the flood gates open for unlimited, and often unsolicited, tips and advice. From your own mom to the lady up the street, everyone feels they have carte blanche to share their pregnancy stories and impart their wisdom. Some of this advice will no doubt come in handy, while other nuggets of “knowledge” not so much.
All this is happening while a cocktail of hormones courses through your body, making even the most level-headed woman second guess herself and the important decisions she makes for the health of the baby growing inside her.
Why is prenatal care important?
Prenatal care is the steps or care you take to ensure your health and the health of your baby from the time you know you’re pregnant to the delivery of your baby. More specifically in medical terms, prenatal care is a series of regular checkups during pregnancy when your obstetrics provider monitors and tracks health metrics for both the mom and growing baby.
During these appointments, Dr. Lingenfelter checks for diabetes, high blood pressure, hepatitis B, or any other conditions that can bring risk to you or your baby.
Does it really matter whether you do routine checkups with your doctor or not? Absolutely!
In fact, according to the Office on Women’s Health, mothers who don’t get prenatal care are three times as likely to deliver a low birthweight baby. Sadly, babies born to mothers who don’t get prenatal care are five times more likely to die.
Unfortunately maternal deaths in the United States have been rising since 2000. According to a recent study, 700 pregnancy-related deaths occur annually in the United States – and about 60% of these deaths could have been prevented.
Our OB/GYN, Dr. Brandon Lingenfelter, can help you sort through the myths and facts of prenatal care so that you’ll not only make well-informed decisions, but also retain your sanity during this exciting journey.
Myth: Only first-time moms need prenatal care.
If you’re the mom of several children, you can probably rattle off some pretty animated stories about how no two pregnancies are the same, and the mother’s age definitely plays a factor in this. However, your health in general can change from one pregnancy to the next, making this prenatal care statement definitely a myth.
Seeking prenatal care is essential whether you’re having your first or your fifth baby.
Fact: Eating fish during pregnancy is good.
Eating protein-rich foods like fish is beneficial to everyone, but it’s particularly important for pregnant and breastfeeding women and critical for a baby’s development and growth. There’s one caveat here though: Avoid fish high in mercury like swordfish, marlin, king mackerel, and canned tuna, and limit your low-mercury fish consumption to 8-12 ounces per week.
Myth: When you’re pregnant, you should eat for two.
If only this were true, but it’s not. Eating a balanced diet is still in order during pregnancy. Although adding a snack or two during the day is helpful, you’ll only need about 300 extra calories a day. Go for lean meats and a good balance of fruits and vegetables with an eye towards foods rich in folic acid, such as leafy green vegetables, citrus fruits, eggs, and legumes. Folic acid is an important B vitamin which can help prevent birth defects.
Fact: Avoid hot tubs and saunas during pregnancy.
While relaxing in a warm shower or tub may be just the thing after a long day, pregnant women should avoid things like saunas and hot tubs that could trigger heat stress. Interestingly enough, it’s not uncommon for a pregnant woman to have a slightly elevated body temperature to begin with, so keeping your core body temperature below 102°F is important for your health and your baby.
Myth: Exercising when you’re pregnant is bad for you.
This myth is very similar to the one about diet. Being active and exercising is part of healthy living. If you’ve never exercised before, it’s probably not the time to take up a new sport, but we can guide you to the type of exercise that’s right for you. If you’ve always exercised, you may need to make slight modifications to address changes in your balance and take extra care to stay hydrated.
If you’re pregnant or thinking about becoming pregnant, and you want to learn more about prenatal care, book a consultation today. Schedule your appointment with Dr. Lingenfelter by clicking the online booking tool, or you can phone our office in Princeton, West Virginia.