What is prenatal care/preconception care?Prenatal care is the care woman gets before pregnancy and before her baby is born. Getting early and regular prenatal care is important for both the mother and the developing baby.
Prenatal care includes health care, along with education and counseling about how to handle different aspects of pregnancy. A health care provider may discuss many issues, such as nutrition and physical activity, what to expect during the birth process, and basic skills for caring for an infant.
In addition, health care providers are now recommending a woman see a health care provider forpreconception care, before she is even trying to get pregnant.
What can a woman do to promote a healthy pregnancy?Many health care providers recommend that a woman who is thinking about becoming pregnant see a health care provider to ensure she is in good preconception health. There are steps a woman can take to reduce the risk of certain problems during pregnancy:
1. Folic acid – The U.S. Public Health Service recommends that women of childbearing age get at least 400 micrograms of folic acid every day, through food and/or supplements. Many health care providers recommend supplementing the diet with folic acid for 3 months before getting pregnant and at least the first 3 months of pregnancy.
2. Proper immunizations for the mother – Women who are thinking about getting pregnant should make sure they have been properly vaccinated for certain diseases that could harm a developing fetus (such as chicken pox or rubella). It is important to get these vaccinations before becoming pregnant because they can harm a developing fetus.
3. Healthy behaviors – Having a healthy weight and diet and getting regular physical activity can help both the mother and fetus during pregnancy. Avoiding smoking, alcohol, or drug use is also important. In addition, certain medications and exposures in the environment can be harmful to the fetus and it is important to avoid them during pregnancy.