Basic Concepts of Home Prenatal Care
Why is home prenatal care so important? Simple steps made at home can decrease minor and serious risks during pregnancy as well as increase women’s chances for a healthy and safe delivery. There’s no doubt that a woman needs to visit her doctor regularly to monitor her pregnancy and identify any complications timely. However, most females ignore home care plans.
Having Scheduled Visits
Before we talk about the importance of home prenatal care, it is essential to point out that it must be tightly connected to a schedule of visits.
It normally involves seeing a healthcare professional:
- Once a month during the first 6 months of pregnancy;
- Once in two weeks during the 7th and 8th months of pregnancy;
- Once a week during the 9th month of pregnancy.
The health of the baby and mother are checked during every visit that normally includes:
- Routine screenings and tests (HIV, blood tests for anemia, blood type, etc.);
- Weight measurements;
- Monitoring of blood pressure;
- Talking about a special diet plan;
- Discussing easy exercises to be done regularly;
- Monitoring the heart rate of the baby and baby’s growth.
During the 3rd trimester the visits also include the position of the baby as well as any changes in the female’s body and whether it’s ready for the birth or not yet.
Special classes are often offered by healthcare professionals at different stages of pregnancy:
- Teaching basic skills for caring a baby;
- Discussing what must be expected when you’re pregnant;
- Getting ready for the birth.
Some women are in the risk group because of health conditions and age. They usually require more frequent visits as well as special care. To avoid complications they also should think of home prenatal care.
Healthy Pregnancy Steps
# 1- What you eat and how much you eat
It’s true that a pregnant woman eats for two. Normally, a woman needs around 300 additional calories every day. It is important to take more protein-rich foods, those full of calcium and vitamins. To prevent bacteria that could harm the baby it is suggested to avoid raw seafood, fish high in mercury or other contaminants, juices and unpasteurized dairy, undercooked meat and eggs.
#2 – Regular exercising
There are many special exercising programs for pregnant women. They are created to give endurance and strength, while a woman is carrying a baby. Some exercises prevent pains and aches or at least ease them, while other help in handling the stress or improving sluggish circulation in legs.
Besides, if a woman stays active during pregnancy, she boosts serotonin levels – chemicals responsible for mood.
# 3 – Prenatal vitamins
They are also called special prenatal supplements that include iron and folic acid. Getting enough of these two compounds before and during pregnancy helps reduce risks of birth defects development. During the pregnancy stages the iron requirement increases greatly, too. However, the intake must be discussed with a healthcare provider: too many elements can lead to risks and even complications in future.
# 4 – Smoking and alcohol cessation
We hope there is no need to say why you should not drink when you are pregnant. Any strong drink reaches a baby rapidly through the mother’s bloodstream and crosses the placenta. A baby can end up with high levels of alcohol in blood.
A single drink can be dangerous: it increases the chances of having a low-birth weight baby. In future it will affect the baby’s ability to speak and learn things, adding to hyperactivity, attention span, etc. Regular drinking increases the risks of stillbirth or miscarriage. It is recommended to avoid drinking alcohol completely. If a mother has troubles giving up on her own, she requires professional help before it’s too late.
Smoking, heavy or mild, is dangerous as well. It increases risks of:
- Placental abruption;
- Premature delivery;
- Growth problems.
There were cases, when regular smoking led to having a child with a cleft lip or palate. There’s no such notion as ‘it’s too late to quit’ when you are pregnant. A single cigarette of yours can become fatal for a baby.
#5 – Caffeine cessation
For most women caffeine is a real drug. Refusing from it during pregnancy is a true torture. At first it is suggested to limit the intake of coffee at least to less than 200 mg daily. Why so? Coffee doubles the risks of miscarriage. In addition, there’s no nutritive value in this drink. Besides, it prevents proper iron absorption. A pregnant woman may suffer from regular headaches, heartburn and insomnia provoked by caffeine.
#6 – Emotional health
It is as important as physical! As the body undergoes many changes during pregnancy, woman’s emotions are right on the surface. When mood swings are too extreme or they interfere with your daily life, depression becomes the result. If you are in low spirits for more than two weeks, look for professional help and don’t forget to do the things you like.
It is essential to get more rest than usually. Don’t forget to give your body and mind several breaks a day. Share responsibilities with your husband and try some relaxation techniques that are generally very helpful.
Both professional and home prenatal care should be addressed early. Schedule your visits beforehand and don’t feel shy to address your doctor, when something bothers you a lot. Keep in mind that your doctor won’t be around all the time, so you need to learn more about pregnancy and its stages as well as contribute the above-mentioned steps into your everyday life.