4 Prenatal Care Tips for Expecting Mothers
Pregnancy is a time of anticipation, excitement, and preparation for your new baby. For many new parents, this is also a time of uncertainty. The nine months of pregnancy will give you time to have your questions answered, calm your fears, and prepare yourself for parenthood.
This article covers some of the common questions expecting mothers have about pregnancy and helpful prenatal care tips such as:
- When to schedule a prenatal checkup
- What to expect at a prenatal checkup
- Healthy foods for expecting mothers
- Staying physically active during pregnancy
We also answer questions like “Are all prenatal vitamins the same?” We talk about prenatal stress and anxiety, and how to schedule a prenatal care checkup in Wichita, KS.
Prenatal Care Tips For Expectant Mothers
Schedule Prenatal Care Checkups
During pregnancy, regular checkups are very important. This consistent care can help keep you and your baby healthy, identify any problems if they occur, and prevent problems during delivery. Typically, routine checkups occur:
- Once each month for weeks four through 28
- Twice a month for weeks 28 through 36
- Weekly for weeks 36 to birth
Women with high-risk pregnancies need to see their doctors more often.
How to Schedule a Prenatal Checkup in Wichita
HealthCore Clinic in Wichita, KS has a diverse Prenatal Care Team including OB/GYN Care, Family Medicine providers, Wesley Family Medicine residents, and a Certified Nurse-Midwife (CNM). We offer comprehensive checkups throughout your pregnancy to help keep you and your future baby healthy.
Starting prenatal care early in the first trimester can help give your baby the best start to a healthy future. In addition to our experienced and caring nursing staff, some of the services we offer as part of our prenatal care include:
- In-House Ultrasound Available
- Discounted Fees for Self-Pay
- Insurance Application Assistance
- Routine Behavioral Health Consultations
- Baby Talk Education Classes
- Newborn Care
- Baby Talk and Healthy Babies Classes
- Birthing Classes
What To Expect When You Are Expecting
What to Expect at Prenatal Checkups
During your visits, your doctor, OBGYN, or gynecologist may discuss many topics, such as healthy eating and physical activity, screening tests you might need, and what to expect during labor and delivery.
At your first prenatal visit, your doctor will perform a full physical exam, take your blood for lab tests, and calculate your due date. Your doctor might also do a breast exam, a pelvic exam to check your uterus (womb), and a cervical exam, including a Pap test. During this first visit, your doctor will ask you lots of questions about your lifestyle, relationships, and health habits. It’s important to be honest with your doctor to help create a plan for care during and after your pregnancy.
After the first visit, most prenatal visits will include:
- Checking your blood pressure and weight
- Checking the baby’s heart rate
- Measuring your abdomen to check your baby’s growth
You also will have some routine tests throughout your pregnancy, such as tests to look for anemia, tests to measure the risk of gestational diabetes, and tests to look for harmful infections. HealthCore Clinic is unlike most medical offices you’re familiar with. Patients are more actively engaged in improving their health through a team-based approach. We encourage you to become a partner with your doctor or medical provider to manage your care. Be sure to keep all of your appointments — each one is important! Ask questions and read to educate yourself about this exciting time.
Healthy Foods For Expecting Mothers
Food, Drink and Prenatal Vitamins
Eating healthy foods is especially important for pregnant women. So what are some good prenatal foods? Your baby needs nutrients to grow healthy and strong in the womb. Eat plenty of colorful fruits and vegetables, whole grains, calcium-rich foods, and foods low in saturated fat.
There are certain foods that women should avoid eating while pregnant.
Pregnant women should NOT eat:
- Raw or rare meats
- Liver, sushi, raw eggs (also in mayonnaise)
- Soft cheeses (feta, brie)
- Unpasteurized milk
Raw and unpasteurized animal products can cause food poisoning. Some fish, even when cooked, can be harmful to a growing baby because they’re high in mercury.
It is very important to stay hydrated. A pregnant woman’s body needs more water than it did before pregnancy. You should drink eight or more cups of water each day.
Taking a daily prenatal multivitamin can help ensure you get the right amount of the key nutrients you and your baby need during pregnancy. These include folic acid, iron, and calcium.
Are All Prenatal Vitamins the Same?
Every vitamin can differ in the types and amounts of nutrients it contains because specific vitamin ingredients aren’t regulated by the FDA. If the vitamin you choose doesn’t contain the full recommended daily amount of a nutrient, be sure to eat foods that are high in that vitamin or mineral.
Prenatal vitamins are available over-the-counter in nearly any pharmacy. Your health care provider might recommend a specific brand or leave the choice up to you.
Beyond checking for folic acid and iron, look for a prenatal vitamin that contains calcium and vitamin D. They help promote the development of the baby’s teeth and bones. It also might be beneficial to look for a prenatal vitamin that contains vitamin C, vitamin A, vitamin E, B vitamins, zinc, and iodine.
In addition, your health care provider might suggest higher doses of certain nutrients depending on the circumstances. For example, if you’ve given birth to a baby who has a neural tube defect, your health care provider might recommend a separate supplement containing a higher dose of folic acid — such as 4 milligrams (4,000 micrograms) — before and during any subsequent pregnancies.
Prenatal Care Activities
Stay Physically Active During Pregnancy
Staying physically active during pregnancy is very important. Daily exercise or staying active in other ways can help you stay healthy during pregnancy. Check with your doctor to find out how much physical activity is right for you as part of your prenatal care activities.
- At your first prenatal care checkup, ask your health care provider whether exercise during pregnancy is safe for you.
- Healthy pregnant women typically need at least 2½ hours of aerobic activity, such as walking or swimming, each week.
- Regular physical activity can help reduce your risk of pregnancy complications and ease pregnancy discomforts, such as back pain.
- Some activities, such as basketball, hot yoga, downhill skiing, horseback riding and scuba diving, are NOT safe during pregnancy.
Safe Prenatal Care Physical Activities
While these activities are usually considered safe for expectant mothers during pregnancy, it is always important to check with your doctor and discuss health risks for you and your baby.
- Walking. Taking a brisk walk is a great workout that doesn’t strain your joints and muscles. If you’re new to exercise, this is a great activity.
- Swimming and water workouts. The water supports the weight of your growing baby and moving against the water helps keep your heart rate up. It’s also easy on your joints and muscles. If you have low back pain when you do other activities, try swimming.
- Riding a stationary bike. This is safer than riding a regular bicycle during pregnancy. You’re less likely to fall off a stationary bike than a regular bike, even as your belly grows.
- Yoga and Pilates classes. Tell your yoga or Pilates teacher that you’re pregnant. The instructor can help you modify or avoid poses that may be unsafe for pregnant women, such as lying on your belly or flat on your back (after the first trimester). Some gyms and community centers offer prenatal yoga and Pilates classes just for pregnant women.
- Low-impact aerobics classes. During low-impact aerobics, you always have one foot on the ground or equipment. Examples of low-impact aerobics include walking, riding a stationary bike and using an elliptical machine. Low-impact aerobics don’t put as much strain on your body that high-impact aerobics do. During high-impact aerobics, both feet leave the ground at the same time. Examples include running, jumping rope and doing jumping jacks. Tell your instructor that you’re pregnant so that they can help you modify your workout, if needed.
- Strength training. Strength training can help you build muscle and make your bones strong. It’s safe to work out with weights as long as they’re not too heavy. Ask your provider about how much you can lift.
You don’t need to belong to a gym or own special equipment to be active. You can walk in a safe area or do exercise videos at home. Or find ways to be active in your everyday life, like doing yard work or taking the stairs instead of the elevator.
Prenatal Care Activities & Prenatal Stress and Anxiety
How to Reduce Stress During Pregnancy
When you’re pregnant, there are days when you may cycle through every possible emotion (hello, hormones!). And one of the most common feelings that many expecting mamas tend to experience throughout their pregnancy is stress—stress about your baby, stress about your body, stress about prepping for baby’s arrival, stress about life changes—you name it.
While it’s normal to experience these emotions, periods of prolonged or severe stress during your pregnancy isn’t good for you or your baby. In fact, high levels of constant stress can even make pregnancy symptoms worse (like trouble sleeping, body aches, etc.)—or contribute to larger issues like depression, problems with weight (gaining too much, or not enough), or even high blood pressure. Finding ways to manage stress is important for any mama-to-be—here are a few stress-reducing tips to try.
- Focus on your breathing.
- Prioritize rest & down time.
- Talk to friends, family, and your support system about your feelings.
At HealthCore, our culturally appropriate mental health services are designed to reduce stigma and provide a comfortable and safe environment for the management of anxiety, depression, trauma, and behavioral support for your mental health. If you are feeling stressed about your pregnancy, speak with a member of our behavioral health team.