Offering Your Baby a Healthy Start Begins with Prenatal Care
Elaine Hegwood Bowen, M.S.J., ACCESS Media Relations Specialist
October 6, 2017
Pregnancy can bring on a range of emotions: feelings of being overwhelmed, joyfulness, anxiety, sadness, nervousness and elation, often before you even get out of bed. Whether this is your first pregnancy or third, pregnant women must be diligent about their prenatal care as their due date approaches.
To ensure a healthy beginning for both mother and child, here is a list of prenatal care do’s and don’ts to help you throughout your pregnancy.
Prenatal Care Do’s
- Schedule regular appointments with your doctor to ensure both you and your baby are progressing appropriately.
- Maintain a healthy diet. You should eat from a variety of food groups, including fruits and vegetables, breads and grains, lean protein sources and dairy products.
- Get support. ACCESS’ CenteringPregnancy® program offers prenatal care in a group setting. The goal of this program is to promote healthy pregnancies through health assessment, interactive learning, and community building.
- Take prenatal vitamin supplements. While daily amounts of folic acid may lower the risk of birth defects and iron may prevent anemia, which is linked to preterm birth and low-birth weight babies, it is recommended that you consult with your doctor.
- Stay hydrated. Even if you aren’t thirsty, it’s important to drink extra fluids, especially water.
- Remain active. Unless your doctor tells you otherwise, moderate exercise is good for you and your baby. Gain a healthy amount of weight. Gaining more than the recommended amount during pregnancy can increase your chances of complications.
- Get enough sleep. It’s not always easy when you are stressed or uncomfortable, but try to aim for 7 to 9 hours every night. Resting on your left side helps blood flow to you and your baby and prevents swelling. Using pillows between your legs and under your belly can help you get more comfortable.
Prenatal Care Don’ts
- Don’t smoke. Even if you smoked during the early part of your pregnancy, quitting now is important. Smoking keeps your baby from getting needed nourishment and raises the risk of miscarriage, preterm birth, and infant death.
- ACCESS’ behavioral health team offers counseling around smoking cessation.
- The Illinois Department of Public Health’s Illinois Tobacco Quitline number for help with smoking cessation is 1-866-QUIT-YES or 1-866-784-8937.
- No drugs or alcohol, period! There is no known “safe” amount of alcohol during pregnancy, and illegal drugs are NEVER a healthy choice.
- Avoid exposure to toxic substances and chemicals, such as cleaning solvents, lead and mercury, some insecticides, and paint.
- Avoid cleaning or changing a cat’s litter box. This could put you at risk for toxoplasmosis, an infection that can be very harmful to the fetus. Enlist help from a friend or family member.
- Don’t eat certain types of fish that have high mercury levels. These include swordfish, king mackerel, shark and tilefish.
- Don’t get overheated. Make sure your bath water isn’t too hot and avoid saunas and Jacuzzis. High temperatures can be harmful to the fetus, or cause you to faint.
For more information about how ACCESS can help you set the building blocks for a healthy pregnancy, talk with your provider or, to schedule a prenatal appointment with ACCESS, call 1.866.267.2353 or click here.