Prenatal Care

It is the medical care which you get during your pregnancy. It includes regular medical health checkups and prenatal testing. It helps in keeping you and your child healthy. Any potential health problems or complications can be detected early in pregnancy with its help.   

Prenatal vitamins are advised to women who either are pregnant or are planning to conceive. These vitamin supplements bridge the nutritional gap for the healthy growth of the fetus.  In some cases, women are advised to take prenatal vitamins post delivery as well. These supplements can act as an add-on for lactating mothers who need an ample amount of nutrients to produce breast milk.

It is always better if you get all the nutrients through your diet instead of a pill and that is why one must not take any supplement pill unless their doctor suggests otherwise.

Prenatal vitamins are specific to the needs of women, who are either pregnant or breastfeeding. Also, taking folic acid in excess amount can result in adverse results. High levels of iron may result in constipation, diarrhea and nausea. Synthetic vitamins could harm your result as well.

Prenatal tests are screening and diagnostic tests which are done to identify health problems like Down syndrome, spinal cord defects or other genetic problems in unborn babies. These tests also help in identifying the concerns for the expectant mothers as well.

A screening test is done to look for the possible chances of a baby being born with a health issue. Although these tests do not give a definite answer, screening tests are completely safe and do not increase the risk of a miscarriage. A screening test sometimes may be followed by a diagnostic test.

A diagnostic test with 100% accuracy determines whether a condition is present or not. Amniocentesis and chorionic villus sampling are two main diagnostic tests that are used to diagnose genetic conditions during prenatal.

Some prenatal tests are routine tests which are recommended to all women receiving antenatal care. These tests are done to check the level of sugar, protein and signs of any infection. Other tests advised to women with high-risk pregnancies, like:

  • Women above the age of 34
  • Teenage girls
  • Who earlier have had a baby with a birth defect
  • Who earlier have had a premature baby in an earlier pregnancy
  • Who suffer from high blood pressure, any heart or kidney problems, asthma or seizure issue.
  • Who has or whose partner has a genetic disorder

At times the result of a prenatal test may detect some problem which can be treated during the gestation period and in others, it alerts the health care provider of a condition which may require immediate treatment after birth. In either condition, your prenatal care will vary.

The regularity of prenatal tests depends on the risk of complications in your pregnancy and how far along your pregnancy is. A normal prenatal care visit schedule for a healthy woman between the age f 18-34 is:

  • Every 4 to 6 weeks for the first 32 weeks

  • Every 2 to 3 weeks for the 32nd-37th weeks

  • Every single week from the 37th week of pregnancy until the day of delivery

If there are high risks for you to have a complicated pregnancy then your healthcare provider may ask you to come more often.

It is recommended to take prenatal vitamin supplements after a meal or with a light snack and at night just before going to bed to prevent nausea. Drink maximum fluids and eat food rich in fibre to prevent constipation. If natural home remedies fail to help, your health care provider may advise stool softeners.

Do not take prenatal vitamins in combination with other vitamin supplements unless your obstetrician asks you to as vitamins in inadequate amount may end u having an adverse effect on the developing baby.   

Prenatal vitamins usually contain more iron and folic acid than the standard adult multivitamins as:

  • Folic Acid helps in preventing neural tube defects:

These defects are critical abnormalities of the spinal cord and brain.

  • Iron’s role in the baby’s growth and development:

Iron prevents anemia, a condition in which blood doesn’t have an appropriate amount of healthy blood cells. Also, prenatal vitamins decrease the chances of a baby being small for his/her gestational age.

Healthcare experts suggest that a woman of childbearing age should start taking prenatal vitamins before getting pregnant. The brain and the spinal cord of the embryo start developing within 3 to 4 weeks of gestation. All the women who want to conceive should start taking folic acid tablets daily to prevent serious birth defects like anencephaly and spina bifida, which may affect the fetus’ developing spinal cord and brain. If after delivery, one breastfeeds, then also she should not stop taking the supplements.   

During pregnancy, certain herbs, vitamins, and supplements are not advised in high dosage. Vitamin A is one such vitamin which can be harmful to the fetus if taken in high quantity. One should make sure that the prenatal vitamins do not contain dye, caffeine, synthetic food coloring or liquorice.