So you’re expecting your first child. Or maybe you’re planning on getting pregnant. This is an exciting time in any woman’s life.

Everyone knows about the necessity of prenatal care for a healthy pregnancy. We have all heard about the importance of getting ultrasounds and taking vitamins.

But why exactly is it so important?

Read on to learn the seven things you need to know about the importance of prenatal care.

1. Preventing Complications

A major reason that prenatal care is important is its role in preventing serious complications.

Prenatal visits help reduce the risk of a fetus or infant being born with conditions and defects. Poor health during pregnancy can lead to a premature birth or low birth weight. Early prenatal care helps you keep track of your baby’s health up until the point of birth.

For example, a doctor will recommend taking a prenatal vitamin every day. Women take folic acid during this stage to help their baby develop. This also helps to prevent certain defects that occur from iron deficiencies.

2. Personal Health

A prenatal checkup won’t just address your baby’s health. It will also address your own personal health and growth.

A physician will keep tabs on your health by taking regular tests. These will take into account your vital signs such as blood pressure and heart rate. Your OB/GYN will check your weight on a regular basis to make sure it’s at a safe level.

Women who are pregnant in their late 30s or early 40s might need specific guidance. While there is an increased risk of complications, most women will have healthy pregnancies.

Doctors will also recommend certain medications and supplements to ensure good health. A basic level of physical activity is also encouraged for pregnant women.

3. Nutrition

Doctors give important nutritional information to expecting mothers during prenatal visits. Eating healthy and avoiding certain foods is essential for a successful pregnancy.

Your diet will likely change once you’re pregnant. A developing baby requires specific nutrients. Vegetables, fruits, and whole grains are key for any diet.

To get the right nutrients, doctors recommend pregnant women keep a well-balanced diet. Contrary to popular belief, women are not required to up their caloric intake in a drastic way. They may only need to take in a few hundred extra calories a day.

Avoiding foodborne illnesses and harmful chemicals is important. Women are also discouraged from consuming fish with high levels of mercury.

4. Testing

Regular testing is an integral part of prenatal care. Tests will ensure that your baby is developing and that your vitals are safe.

Doctors will administer ultrasounds and other diagnostic tests. They will measure the position and growth of your baby in the womb.

Your OB/GYN will check for anything that’s a cause for concern. There are many types of tests and they’re done during different trimesters.

Amniocentesis is a test that involves extracting amniotic fluid from the uterus. This process checks for genetic abnormalities such as Down Syndrome.

Other screening tests will check your blood type, red blood cells, and cholesterol. Your doctor will also screen you for infections. These include sexually transmitted diseases such as hepatitis B and chlamydia.

5. Pre-Existing Conditions

During prenatal care, your healthcare provider will consider your medical and family history.

Any pre-existing conditions will be closely monitored. An OB/GYN will help you control any conditions such as diabetes or kidney disease. If they’re not controlled, it can lead to complications during the pregnancy or delivery.

For example, a history of high blood pressure may increase pregnancy risks. It’s a known risk factor for developing a condition called preeclampsia. This complication can be very serious or even life-threatening.

6. Lifestyle Tips

Prenatal care is essential because it provides ongoing support during pregnancy. Your doctor will give you tips on how to maintain a lifestyle that will lead to a healthy pregnancy.

There are things that every doctor will caution pregnant women against. All healthcare professionals urge women not to use drugs or alcohol while pregnant. Smoking and drinking are dangerous for an unborn child.

Substance use during pregnancy increases the risk for Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. Other serious disorders and defects are also caused by alcohol and tobacco consumption. It can lead to a premature birth or low birth weight.

During prenatal care, women will also learn how to control stress and get the right amount of sleep.

7. Labor and Delivery

Prenatal visits will help you stay informed about how to best prepare for childbirth. Every expecting mother will have a different plan for their delivery. Some women want to deliver in a hospital, while others opt for a home birth.

Prenatal care will help you no matter what your needs are. During these visits, you’ll able to discuss your concerns with your OB/GYN.

Your doctor may also recommend great childbirth classes for you and your partner. There are many different types of education classes out there. There are also aerobic exercise classes that help expecting women stay fit.

More on the Importance of Prenatal Care

There are countless benefits to receiving the right care during pregnancy. The importance of prenatal care can’t be stressed enough. Luckily, there are many different pregnancy services available for new mothers with all different needs.

Women who may be pregnant should start thinking about prenatal care right away. Even women who are looking to conceive can benefit from prenatal care information. You can learn more by scheduling a visit with a healthcare professional.

To find out more information, contact us today at one of our locations.