What Does Prenatal Mean?

pregnant woman having an ultrasound exam

Prenatal simply means, “before birth; during or relating to pregnancy.” You’ve most likely heard the word paired with other words like care, healthcare or vitamins. These terms represent a collection of important steps every pregnant woman should take to ensure the health of her baby and herself.

So, what does proper prenatal care include?

Specialized Prenatal Medical Care

Properly monitoring and protecting your health when you’re pregnant shouldn’t be left to your general family doctor. Be sure to see an obstetrician-gynecologist (OB/GYN). Your OB/GYN will review your medical history, lifestyle, current health and any risk factors for potentially dangerous pregnancy-related conditions. You will then have regularly scheduled check-ups, ultrasounds and other monitoring to ensure you and your baby are doing well throughout the pregnancy.

Prenatal Vitamins

Prenatal vitamin supplements provide essential vitamins and minerals that pregnant women may not get in high enough amounts from their regular diet. Folic acid, iron, iodine and calcium are among the most vital. Folic acid plays an important role in preventing brain and spine birth defects. Calcium is critical for bone health. Iodine helps support thyroid gland function. Iron is important for preventing anemia. Your healthcare provider can help you select the best prenatal vitamins for your needs.

Healthy Diet and Lifestyle

A nutritious, well-balanced diet of fruits and vegetables, proteins, grains and dairy will strengthen your body and mind and your baby’s. It can also reduce your chances of getting ill during this time when your body is under a lot of stress. Smoking, drinking alcohol and taking any non-prescribed drugs should be discontinued as soon as you find out you’re pregnant. You should also talk to your doctor about any prescription medications you take, as some may no longer be safe while you’re pregnant.

Emotional and Spiritual Wellness and Physical Safety

Pregnancy can be a very stressful time, and the associated hormone fluctuations add to that. Surround yourself with a great support system, whether it’s family, friends, your church, a pregnancy counselor, your community, you name it. Seek out and lean on the people who truly care for you and your baby. If your partner is supportive, that’s great. If not, especially if you ever feel at risk of violence, leave the situation as soon as possible.

Some women understandably worry about not having the financial resources to afford prenatal care. Thankfully, even if you don’t have medical insurance, there are physicians, government programs and community groups available to ensure you get high quality prenatal care.

In Gainesville, Sira offers free access to pregnancy counselors who can help you find and connect with these resources. Their service is 100% free, which gives you one less thing to worry about.

Contact Sira today at 352-377-4947 to schedule your free pregnancy counseling appointment.

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