Need to Know: Prenatal Care

Issue No. 4: Black Maternal Health
Words - Terri Fleming: MSN, APRN, FNP-BC
Illustration - Alexandra Folino

 
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Approximately 500 women die yearly from pregnancy-related complications. This number could possibly be much higher when accounting for deaths that are not identified as being caused by pregnancy. Many of the conditions that cause infant mortality, including low birth weight and congenital anomalies, can be reduced or prevented with good prenatal care. Below are suggested prenatal care practices that give the parent and child a stronger likelihood of good health before, during, and after birth:

  • Find a health care provider that you trust. If you are looking for a new provider, call the number on the back of your insurance card, visit a local free clinic, or ask people in your community for recommendations.

  • Make an appointment while you are planning to get pregnant or as soon as you know that you are pregnant.

  • Be honest with your health care provider. Your provider will be able to offer the best advice if they have a complete picture of your medical history, any medications you are taking, and any concerns or symptoms you may have.

  • Take a prenatal vitamin. The folic acid found in prenatal vitamins is important to prevent major birth defects of the brain and spine.

  • Eat healthy, nutritious food. This will promote fetal development, give you more energy, and help keep your immune system strong. Note that there are some types of fish and unpasteurized dairy products that doctors recommend you avoid during pregnancy.

  • Exercise. Choose a type of exercise that works for you, and consult with your health care provider if you are having difficulty.

  • Be prepared to make some lifestyle changes. Try to limit caffeine intake and avoid the use or abuse of alcohol, tobacco products, and other drugs.

  • Try to maintain a regular sleep schedule, especially later in your pregnancy when your sleep is more likely to be disrupted. Minimize light and other stimulations, and decrease fluid intake before you go to bed.

If you need additional support regarding your prenatal care, reach out to the following organizations: