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Medical Care During Pregnancy


According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), almost 4 million American women give birth every year. Nearly one third of them will have some kind of pregnancy-related complication. Those who don't get adequate prenatal care run the risk that such complications will go undetected or won't be dealt with soon enough. That, in turn, can lead to potentially serious consequences for both the mother and her baby.

These statistics aren't meant to alarm you, but rather to convey the importance of starting prenatal care as early as possible - ideally, before you even become pregnant. Of course, this isn't always possible or practical. But the sooner in your pregnancy you begin, the better your chances of ensuring your own health and that of your baby.

Prenatal Care Before Getting Pregnant
Ideally, prenatal care should start before you get pregnant. If you're planning a pregnancy, see your health care provider for a complete checkup. He or she can do routine testing to make sure you're in good health and that you don't have any illnesses or other conditions that could affect your pregnancy. If you've been experiencing any unusual symptoms, this is a good time to report them.

If you're already being treated for a chronic condition, such as diabetes, asthma, hypertension (high blood pressure), a heart problem, allergies, lupus (an inflammatory disorder that can affect several body systems), depression, or some other condition, you should talk to your doctor about how it could affect your pregnancy. In some cases, you may need to change or eliminate medications - especially during the first trimester (12 weeks) - to reduce risk to the fetus. Or, you may need to be even more vigilant about managing your condition.

For example, women with diabetes must be especially careful about keeping their blood glucose levels under control, both before they begin trying to conceive and during their pregnancy. Abnormal levels increase the risk of birth defects and other complications.

This is also a good time to talk with your health care provider about other habits that can pose a risk to your baby, such as drinking alcohol or smoking. Ask about starting a prenatal vitamin that contains folic acid, calcium, and iron.
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New FeatureRelated Articles: Nine Healthy Months: What Every Woman Should Know About Prenatal Care, Prenatal Yoga: A Gift to Yourself and Your Baby,

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