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Prenatal Care

Prenatal care is the health care you get while you are pregnant. Take care of yourself and your baby by:

  • Getting early prenatal care. If you know you’re pregnant, or think you might be, call your doctor to schedule a visit.

  • Getting regular prenatal care. Your doctor will schedule
    you for many appointments over the course of your pregnancy. Don’t miss any — they are all important.

  • Following your doctor’s advice.

What is prenatal care?



Prenatal care can help keep you and your baby healthy. Babies of mothers who do not get prenatal care are three times more likely to have a low birth weight and five times more likely to die than those born to mothers who do get care. Doctors can spot health problems early when they see mothers regularly. This allows doctors to treat them early. Early treatment can cure many problems and prevent others. Regular health care is best for you and your baby.



You should start taking care of yourself before you start trying to get pregnant. By staying active, eating right, and taking a multivitamin, you can help keep yourself and your baby healthy even before it is conceived. This will help you have a healthy pregnancy and lower your chances of having a baby born with a birth defect.

Here are some ways to take care of yourself before you get pregnant:

  • Eat healthy foods, exercise regularly (30 minutes per day most days of the week is best), and get enough rest and sleep. Talk to your doctor about what kinds of food and exercise are best for you.

  • Get 400 micrograms (mcg) of folic acid (one of the B vitamins) every day. The best way to do this is to take a daily multivitamin with this amount of folic acid. Getting enough folic acid every day before you get pregnant and during early pregnancy can help prevent certain birth defects. Many breakfast cereals and other grain products are enriched with folic acid. But only some products contain 400 mcg of folic acid per serving. Always check the labels to be sure you’re getting your daily dose.

  • See your doctor for a complete check up. Make sure that you’ve had all your shots, especially for rubella (German measles). Rubella can cause serious birth defects. Chickenpox can also be dangerous during pregnancy. If you’ve had chickenpox and rubella in the past, you should be immune to them. If not, talk to your doctor about the vaccines.

  • Tell your doctor about any prescription or over-the-counter medicines (including herbal remedies) you are taking. Some medicines are not safe to take during pregnancy.

  • Stop smoking cigarettes, drinking alcohol, or taking drugs. Ask your doctor for help. Members of your faith community, counselors, or friends can also give support.

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