THE BEGINNING OF PRENATAL CARE
Choosing a Healthcare Provider It is extremely important to choose who will be caring for you and baby through pregnancy and delivery. There are a handful of options, and each one is different for different reasons. You should do some research, and decide what is most important for you! Many parents will have this choice made prior to getting pregnant, but if you are still deciding or are curious here is a good list for you:
- Obstetrician/Gynecologist (OBGYN)
- Certified Nurse Midwives (CNMs)
- Family Practitioner
Remember that what works for you, may not work for someone else. Choose what you feel is best for you then don’t worry about how others feel about you, or how you feel about their decision!
Schedule Your First Visit
Now that you know who will be providing your care, it is time to prepare to meet them! This person will be helping you through all that is to come in the next large handful of months. If you have found yourself overflowing with questions, now is the time to get them answered (or at least the first chunk of them!) Your provider is there for that exact reason! Typically your first visit will be scheduled anywhere between 8 and 12 weeks. However, if you have prior health conditions or something that could classify you as a high risk pregnancy you will likely see your provider earlier and more frequently throughout your entire pregnancy.
Medications and Supplements
It should come as no surprise that there is a long list of things that you should not take while pregnant. However, there is one very important supplement that you must not go without.
Prenatal Vitamins. If you aren’t taking them, go buy a bottle today! You can purchase them for a very reasonable price at any drug-store. They are packed full of nutrients that your body and tiny growing baby need. Healthcare professionals suggest to take them while trying to become pregnant, but ESPECIALLY IN THE FIRST TRIMESTER. Make sure the supplement has at least 400 micrograms of folic acid in it. This amount of Folic Acid reduces the risk of your baby developing a neural tube defect, such as Spina Bifida. (If you are having a hard time taking them, just look up what that is. You will never forget or refuse to take them again!) Unfortunately, Prenatals have the tendency to make some people feel sick. To remedy this, try taking them at night right before bed with a little snack.
Now that we have addressed the ‘Do’ let’s briefly go over the ‘Do Nots’:
Medications. If you take a recurring medication be sure to talk to your healthcare provider about it. As a general guideline when it comes to OTC medications, try to go without unless you feel it is absolutely necessary. At that point, you should refer to your provider’s suggestions. If you are a natural healing enthusiast, there are even a number of things that aren’t safe during pregnancy (even some essential oils.) The best rule of thumb for any drug during pregnancy is to ask your medical professional! Below is a basic list of general medications and remedies you should always avoid:
- Ibuprofen (Motrin/Advil)
- Isotretinoin taken for acne
- Herbs, minerals, amino acids, and regular vitamins
- Thalidomide which is taken for certain types of skin diseases
Click Here for a great article from WebMD, that you can use as a general guideline on safe medications as well as safe and unsafe alternative therapies etc. (WebMD and Mayo Clinic online are both endorsed and accredited by certified health organizations. These are both good sources to turn to for further information, but always talk to your healthcare provider first!)
The following should be discussed in depth with your healthcare provider:
- Albuterol for asthma
- Lithium for bipolar disorder
- Fluconazole for yeast infections
- Phenytoin for seizures
Diet. More than ever, you should be very mindful of what kind of diet you are consuming. All of your baby’s nutrients come straight from you. If you are lacking something for you, then baby is also missing those nutrients. Obviously the best way to get all of the nutrients needed, is to eat a varied yet balanced diet. Understandably, there are also quite a few food items that should be avoided while you are pregnant. Recommended daily servings of each nutrients are as follows:
- Two to four servings of fruit
- Four or more servings of vegetables
- Six to eleven servings of whole grains
- Three servings of proteins (meat, poultry, fish, eggs, and small amounts of nuts.)
- As always, sweets and fats sparingly
Not sure exactly what to count as a serving? The American Dietetic Association has created Exchange Lists that provide that information for you! They are very detailed, and go over serving sizes for fruit all the way down to brownies and cookies! Check them out, they are life changers. Now for the foods that you should not touch at all while pregnant:
- Undercooked or raw food of animal origin: say catch-you-later to sushi and raw cookie dough!
- Unpasteurized dairy products, lunch meats, hot dogs, and most refrigerated spreads or seafood products: the bacteria Listeria loves to feast on these and can cause serious birth defects, or even miscarriages or stillborn babies.
- Certain seafoods and fish, even when cooked: you want to steer clear of fish that have higher concentrations of mercury.
- Raw sprouts: alfalfa, clover, radish and mung bean sprouts should all be avoided when raw. Bacteria gets into the seeds and it is nearly impossible to wash out.
- Alcohol, Unpasteurized Juices, Lead tainted water
- Caffeine whether from coffee, tea, or soda pop should be avoided in your first trimester and limited through the remainder of the pregnancy
Extra Caloric Intake: Although the theory of “eating for two” is an old pregnancy myth or joke, most people aren’t aware how few extra calories are needed. In your First Trimester, you don’t even need to consume more calories than what is a healthy amount for you while not pregnant. During your Second Trimester, you should consume 300 - 350 more calories. When you hit your Third Trimester, you should be eating 450 - 500 more calories than usual. If you are carrying multiples, you typically add 300 calories a day per baby.
Being active while pregnant is extremely beneficial! There are obviously precautions that should be taken, but none of those keep you from being very active (unless you are a high risk pregnancy.) The rule of thumb for working out or being active while pregnant is if you were doing it before, you can do it during. This also means that you should not start a new exercise regimen that has a higher intensity than what you were doing before being pregnant.There are of course exceptions to this rule, but it gives you a good start.
Here are a few of those exceptions referred to above:
- Heart rate should be kept at 140 BPM or lower
- Being on your back for extended periods of time should be avoided
- Sit-ups can cause unnecessary strain, it is typically advised that you drastically decrease or stop doing sit-ups all together by your second trimester
- Inverted activities should be avoided
- Any activity that could be a fall risk should be avoided, or done with great caution after approved by your provider
Now, don’t get overwhelmed. Technically speaking, going on a brisk walk for thirty minutes a day five times a week is enough! Don’t think that if you aren’t going to the gym for an hour every day, you are doing it wrong. You’re not. Just take thirty minutes to get out and walk around the neighborhood, or even the mall! If you want a few good and safe exercises to do at home, check out this post on our blog.
Obviously you should exercise caution and common sense. As an example, if you did a lot of heavy power lifting before you were pregnant, you should dial things back and have an in depth conversation with your healthcare provider. It will also obviously be hard to tone down your exercise routine if you are advised to do so. BUT, wouldn’t you rather cut back then have something happen to baby and feel guilt and blame afterwards? Yes.