One of the best ways to ensure the birth of your newborn is as smooth and free of complications as possible is to take the steps necessary to ensure a healthy pregnancy. A surefire way to accomplish this is through frequent visits to your doctor for attentive, individualized prenatal care.
IS THERE A DIFFERENCE BETWEEN PRECONCEPTION AND PRENATAL CARE?
The terms “preconception care” and “prenatal care” are often used interchangeably, and while they both involve similar types of care, the terms are in fact different because they refer to care sought out at different times in a mother’s journey toward becoming pregnant.
Women who are considering trying to get pregnant should seek preconception care before they actually commit to trying to conceive. Common steps doctors recommend taking during the preconception phase include:1
- Developing a plan for how you want to manage your reproductive life
- Ensuring you’re up to date with all necessary/highly recommended immunizations
- Taking steps to control serious medical conditions such as diabetes
- Avoiding risky behaviors such as smoking tobacco, using drugs, consuming alcohol, etc.
- Attaining or maintaining a healthy body weight for your age, height, etc.
- Learning about your family’s pertinent health history (as well as your partner’s)
- If you don’t already take folic acid supplements, now is the best time to start incorporating it into your daily vitamin/medication intake (at least 400 micrograms is recommended)
- Seeking professional help for mental health issues – such as anxiety and depression – that have the potential to affect your health, as well as your unborn baby’s
WHAT IS PRENATAL CARE AND WHY IS IT IMPORTANT?
Women who know or suspect they are currently pregnant are past the point of seeking preconception care, and instead should seek prenatal care.
Studies have shown that when mothers do not receive prenatal care, their babies are three times more likely to be born underweight and five times more likely to die than babies whose mothers did seek prenatal care.2 While there is no single, clear-cut explanation for these statistics, it clearly illustrates the importance of seeking regular, high-quality prenatal care from highly experienced medical professionals.
Additional benefits of seeking quality prenatal care include:
Significantly reduced risk of complications during pregnancy – both for the mother and the fetus.
As part of your prenatal care regimen, your doctor may recommend adopting specific lifestyle changes, including healthy diet and exercise, quitting smoking, avoiding exposure to radiation and other potentially harmful substances, controlling preexisting health conditions such as diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, etc.
Making lifestyle adjustments such as these can significantly lower your risk of experiencing serious issues related to pregnancy and delivery, such as preeclampsia.
Peace of mind/assurance that the medications you’re taking are safe for you and your baby.
Some common medications – including dietary/herbal supplements, acne medications, etc. – can be harmful to the health of the mother and/or the baby, so it’s critical to make sure you speak with a physician about any and all medications you take to ensure you’re cleared to continue using them throughout your pregnancy and prenatal care.
SCHEDULE A FREE MEETING WITH OUR PEDIATRIC PHYSICIANS
If you’re expecting or trying to get pregnant, we encourage you to schedule a confidential, one-on-one prenatal conference at one of our two convenient Portland Pediatric Group practices today. During this intimate meeting one of our experienced, compassionate pediatric physicians will spend time getting to know you, answer any questions you may have and discuss any other important issues/topics pertaining to prenatal care, pregnancy, afterbirth care, etc.
Contact us today to schedule your prenatal conference or to speak with one of our caring specialists. For more information, helpful links and downloadable reading materials, visit our resource center!