Not everything can be prevented, but there are steps that women can take for a healthier pregnancy and healthier babies…

  • Take a vitamin with 400 micrograms (mcg) folic acid every day.
  • Avoid alcohol, tobacco, and street drugs.
  • Keep hands clean by washing them often with soap and water to prevent infections.
  • See a health care professional regularly. Talk with the healthcare professional about any medical problems (such as obesity, diabetes, seizures, etc.) and medicine use (both prescription and over-the-counter).
  • Ask about avoiding any substances at work or at home that might be harmful to a developing baby.
  • Eat a healthy, balanced diet.
  • Avoid unpasteurized (raw) milk and foods made from it.
  • Avoid eating raw or under-cooked meat.

Throughout pregnancy, you should…

  • Keep up these healthy habits.
  • Get early prenatal care and go to every appointment.

The consistent care is very important and can help keep you and your baby healthy, spot problems if they occur, and prevent problems during delivery.

Routine checkups typically occur:

  • Once each month for weeks four through 28

At your first visit your doctor will perform a full physical exam, take your blood for lab tests, and calculate your due date. Your doctor might also do a breast exam, a pelvic exam to check your uterus (womb), and a cervical exam, including a Pap test. During this first visit, your doctor will ask you lots of questions about your lifestyle, relationships, and health habits. It's important to be honest with your doctor.

At your fist prenatal visit, your doctor will use tests to check for a number of things, such as:

After the first visit, most prenatal visits will include:

  • Checking your blood pressure and weight
  • Checking the baby's heart rate
  • Measuring your abdomen to check your baby's growth
  • Urine Sample is taken at every visit  to look for signs of health problems, such as:

A screening test is done at 11 to 14 weeks to detect higher risk of:

It also can reveal multiple births. Based on test results, your doctor may suggest other tests to diagnose a disorder.

An ultrasound exam can be performed at any point during the pregnancy. Ultrasound exams are not routine. But it is not uncommon for women to have a standard ultrasound exam between 18 and 20 weeks to look for signs of problems with the baby's organs and body systems and confirm the age of the fetus and proper growth. It also might be able to tell the sex of your baby.

Glucose challenge screening test is done between 26 to 28 weeks to determine a mother's risk of gestational diabetes. Based on test results, your doctor may suggest a glucose tolerance test.

  • Twice a month for weeks 28 through 36

After 28 weeks, keep track of your baby's movement. This will help you to notice if your baby is moving less than normal, which could be a sign that your baby is in distress and needs a doctor's care. An easy way to do this is the "count-to-10" approach. Count your baby's movements in the evening — the time of day when the fetus tends to be most active. Lie down if you have trouble feeling your baby move. Most women count 10 movements within about 20 minutes. But it is rare for a woman to count less than 10 movements within two hours at times when the baby is active. Count your baby's movements every day so you know what is normal for you. Call your doctor if you count less than 10 movements within two hours or if you notice your baby is moving less than normal. If your baby is not moving at all, call your doctor right away.

  • Weekly for weeks 36 to birth

Group B streptococcus infection test is done at 36 or 37 weeks:

This test is done to look for bacteria that can cause pneumonia or serious infection in newborn. A swab is used to take cells from your vagina and rectum to be tested.

A Biophysical Profile test is performed via ultrasound and is used in the third trimester to monitor the overall health of the baby and to help decide if the baby should be delivered early. The test looks at the baby's breathing, movement, muscle tone, heart rate, and the amount of amniotic fluid.


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