Having a baby is one of the most adventurous journeys you will ever undertake in life. Bringing a new life into the world is exhilarating, joyous, satisfying – and yes, it can be a little scary. Couples want to know that they are making all the right moves to ensure the health of both the mother and the baby. Fortunately, countless people have gone through this process before you. Our understanding of the human body is more advanced than ever before. Therefore, while no two human bodies are exactly alike, there is a general healthcare blueprint during your pregnancy. Here is some of what you will encounter during this exciting nine-month journey.
If your pregnancy was planned, you should already have an OB/GYN selected. According to the American Pregnancy Association, your first prenatal visit will be approximately eight weeks after your last menstrual period. Throughout the first trimester, you will visit your gynecologist once every four weeks. If your pregnancy is normal, the first visit will most likely be the longest. You will have your blood drawn, given a thorough physical exam, and have your medical history taken. If you are experiencing unusual symptoms, you may also be given an ultrasound.
Similar to the first trimester, your visits to the gynecologist will continue to be every four weeks. It is during this stage that your ultrasounds will reveal a fetus with distinctively human features. According to babycenter.com, your practitioner will follow up on any issues occurring during the first trimester, as well as address potential problems that may come during this stage such as minor vaginal bleeding or premature contractions. It is also at this stage where attention will be paid to your weight gain. WebMD states that during pregnancy, a woman of average weight should gain 25 to 35 pounds. Underweight women should gain significantly more, and overweight women somewhat less.
During this stage, the prenatal visits become more frequent. You will meet with your practitioner biweekly until the 36th week, and it will then become weekly until the day of delivery. In addition to monitoring your blood pressure, urine, and weight gain, the OB/GYN will pay special attention to the normal movements of the baby. You will be asked to keep a daily track of how often you feel movement. They will also screen you for group B streptococcus, and give you antibiotics if the results come back positive.
Massage and Exercise
Two additional useful components of prenatal healthcare are massage and an exercise program. The changes to your body that pregnancy brings about are often accompanied by nerve, joint, and muscle pain. Periodic massage can reduce those pains, as well as reduce pre-partum depression or anxiety.
Getting on a regular exercise program is invaluable towards both preventing and relieving common pregnancy symptoms such as swelling, bloating, and joint aches. It will increase your mobility during and after pregnancy, and put your body in a stronger condition for birthing. In addition, it can also reduce, or possibly even prevent the pregnancy hazard of gestational diabetes. It is important to investigate and get on a program tailored towards pregnant women, as some exercises can actually be hazardous during this time.
Remaining diligent about your prenatal healthcare will maximize your chances of having the smoothest possible pregnancy. It is important that you become your own advocate, and select an OB/GYN that is reliably available and communicative. Prenatal care is for the well-being of not only you, but your baby. Do not be afraid or ashamed to ask questions.