Healthy Mom, Healthy Baby
Prenatal and Postnatal Care
Welcoming a new baby is an exciting time. Make the most of these special moments by making sure you and your baby are as healthy as possible. Follow these best practices for prenatal and postnatal care.
If you think you might be pregnant, see your doctor as soon as possible. He or she can help you take steps toward a smooth pregnancy. Your doctor will conduct a physical exam, and you’ll have a chance to talk about your health and ask any questions you might have. Your doctor will put you on a health care plan that will help prevent problems during and after your pregnancy.
Most prenatal care recommendations follow the familiar guidelines of a healthy lifestyle. Expectant mothers should eat a healthy diet and exercise regularly with approval from a doctor. Stay away from substances that might harm your baby, such as lead and radiation. Alcohol and tobacco smoke can cause dangerous complications for unborn babies. Researchers have found ties between alcohol and fetal alcohol spectrum disorders.
Your doctor can help you stay on track with your prenatal vitamins. Folic acid is a key nutrient; it has been shown to reduce the risk of defects of the brain, spine or spinal cord by 70 percent. Pregnant women should take 400 micrograms of folic acid each day. Some medications, including herbal supplements, are not safe for pregnant women. Your doctor can help you decide if you should stop taking any of your medications.
Take care of yourself after you give birth. After all, you can’t pour from an empty cup. Your body has gone through major changes. You’ll need to be patient and gentle with yourself as you get used to life as a new mom. Get as much rest as you can. Your baby will wake up often to eat, so you need to take naps when you can. Sleep when the baby sleeps.
Don’t be shy about asking friends and family for help. They can help with things like cleaning, shopping, meal prep or even child care so you can enjoy a break now and then. Exercise will boost your mood and ease your shift into motherhood. With the guidance of your doctor, start walking and doing light exercises regularly. Go outside for at least a few minutes each day.
Nutrition is just as important for new moms as it is for expectant moms. Choose healthy fruits and vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy, and lean proteins. Drink plenty of fluids, especially if you are breastfeeding.
Know the differences between the “baby blues” and more serious postpartum depression. It is common to have negative feelings after giving birth, but if these feelings go on for more than two weeks, seek help from your doctor.
Take extra care during and after your pregnancy to help your little one start off on the right foot.