Healthy Pregnancy, Healthy Baby

Prenatal care is essential for healthy, happy babies

Prenatal care is essential for healthy, happy babies

Delivering a healthy baby is often a direct result of a healthy pregnancy. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reports that babies of mothers who do not get prenatal care are three times more likely to have a low birth weight and five times more likely to die than those born to mothers who receive prenatal care. These statistics illustrate how important prenatal care is to mom and baby.

Prenatal care is the medical care and treatment a woman receives during pregnancy. It can be provided by various medical professionals, including an obstetrician, a family medicine practitioner, certified nurse-midwife, family nurse practitioner or women’s health nurse practitioner. Your chosen provider will check you and your baby during each prenatal examination to ensure your pregnancy is progressing as it should. Weight checks, blood work, urine tests, ultrasounds and other tests are common during prenatal visits.

Jennifer Scott delivered her baby, Embry, on Jan. 1, 2014, at Norton Hospital in downtown Louisville. She said she understood the importance of prenatal care prior to her pregnancy but was unaware of how many aspects of life are affected by pregnancy. She said she had a positive prenatal experience.

“The nurses were very interested in what I wanted out of my care, how I was feeling and if I had any concerns,” Scott said. “They seemed to truly care.”

“Regular prenatal checkups help your physicians to better identify any potential health concerns early,” said Romeo Ambrosio, M.D., obstetrician/gynecologist. “Preventive care can help treat some conditions before they develop into a much larger concern for both baby and mother.”

Prenatal care tips

Following these tips before and during your pregnancy can help make your pregnancy easier and keep you and your baby healthy.

  • Follow preconception health plans: Your focus on your baby’s health should start before you get pregnant. Dr. Ambrosio recommends contacting your physician before you start trying to get pregnant in order to develop an effective preconception health plan. “Your physician can tell you what foods, habits and medicines could harm a baby and how you can prepare your body for a successful pregnancy,” Dr. Ambrosio said. For example, women should begin taking a multivitamin that contains folic acid before conceiving and throughout pregnancy. Folic acid is known to reduce the chance of the baby developing serious birth defects.
  • Gain a healthy amount of weight: Weight gain is normal during pregnancy; however, too much or too little weight gain can be harmful for you and your baby. Talk with your doctor about how much weight you should gain during your pregnancy. Scott kept a watchful eye on her diet throughout her pregnancy, gaining just 15 pounds. “Because of my good eating habits, I was almost at my pre-pregnancy weight when I got out of the hospital, and it made my recovery easier,” she said.
  • Eat the right foods and nutrients: A healthy diet can supply the nutrients your baby needs to grow and develop. Eat plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, calcium-rich foods and foods low in saturated fat and sodium. Monitor your intake of nutrients such as iron, which has been linked to low birth weight and other health conditions.
  • Don’t smoke or drink alcohol: Smoking and alcohol can have permanent and even deadly effects on your baby.
  • Stay active: Talk to your doctor about a healthy workout routine during pregnancy. Regular activity can promote a healthy weight during pregnancy and help you bounce back after giving birth.
  • Rest and de-stress: Get plenty of sleep during your pregnancy and try to control your stress level to help keep you and your baby healthy and happy.

About our physician: Romeo Ambrosio, M.D., practices at Norton OB/GYN Associates, 601 S. Floyd St., Suite 300, Louisville, KY 40202; (502) 629-1515

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