From Prenatal To Postpartum: An Ultimate Guide To Pregnancy Care

Pregnancy Care

Healthy pregnancy care means healthy childbirth. Maintaining a healthy pregnancy involves prenatal (before birth), during pregnancy and postpartum(after birth) healthcare.

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Prenatal care
Prenatal or antenatal care lays the groundwork for a healthy pregnancy and a safe delivery. It refers to the medical and healthcare support provided to pregnant women before and during pregnancy to ensure a healthy and successful pregnancy outcome. Prenatal care begins as soon as three months before attempting conception. This care involves regular check-ups, medical examinations, screenings, and guidance from healthcare professionals to monitor the health of the pregnant woman and the developing fetus.

During this timeframe, it’s important to adopt the following healthy practices:

-Steer clear of alcohol, recreational drugs, and limit caffeine intake

-Quit smoking
-Incorporate daily folic acid supplements (400 to 800 micrograms)
-Avoid X-rays and inform your dentists or doctors about pregnancy for extra care during procedures.
-Choose healthy foods like fruits, veggies, whole grains, calcium-rich options, and low saturated fats.
-Stay hydrated
-Meet daily nutrient needs, including iron, to prevent anemia, preterm birth, and low birth weight.

-Keep an open dialogue with your healthcare provider about your medications, including over-the-counter drugs.

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During Pregnancy
Once pregnancy is confirmed, regular prenatal visits and tests are scheduled depending on the various stages of pregnancy. These appointments are strategically spaced:

-Monthly visits from weeks 4 to 28

-Bi-monthly visits from weeks 28 to 36

-Weekly visits from week 36 until birth

More frequent visits are likely for those aged 35+ or with high-risk pregnancies.
Each visit allows healthcare providers to assess both the mother’s and the baby’s well-being.

The Prenatal tests and screenings involve the following:

On the first visit, the doctor will do the following tests:

-A complete physical examination
-Blood tests for lab analysis and due date calculation.
-Diagnostic tests, including breast, pelvic, and cervical exams and Pap tests.

-Ultrasound exam

After the first visit, the doctor will

-Monitor blood pressure and weight
-Evaluate the baby’s heart rate

-Measure the abdomen for the baby’s growth

Throughout the pregnancy, the doctor will perform routine pregnancy tests that will include:

-Anemia screenings
-Assessing gestational diabetes risk
-Detecting potential harmful infections

-Urine test for checking any infection or preeclampsia

The doctor may also carry out the following tests to detect genetic abnormalities:
-Nuchal Translucency Test: A screening test conducted between 11 to 14 weeks to identify an increased risk of chromosomal disorders, such as Down syndrome and trisomy 18.

-Maternal serum screening (quad screen, triple test, triple screen, multiple marker screen, or AFP): It is conducted between 15 to 20 weeks of pregnancy. It aims to identify elevated risk of chromosomal disorders, including Down syndrome and trisomy 18 and neural tube defects like spina bifida.
-Amniocentesis: It is a diagnostic test conducted between 14 to 20 weeks of pregnancy to identify specific birth defects such as Down syndrome, cystic fibrosis, spina bifida etc

-Doppler Flow Studies: It uses sound waves to track blood flow within vessels and to examine blood circulation within the baby, uterus, and placenta. Doppler ultrasound in high-risk pregnancies has demonstrated valuable advantages.

Every pregnancy is distinct, with varying experiences. Certain women might experience minimal or mild pregnancy symptoms, while others may need to reduce work hours or halt work altogether. In specific cases, a few days to weeks of bed rest might be necessary to ensure a healthy pregnancy progression.

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Postpartum Care
While pregnancy care often focuses on the nine-month journey, postpartum care is equally significant. The postpartum period spans six to eight weeks after childbirth, a time of physical and emotional adjustments as new mothers embrace caring for their newborns.

Adequate rest is paramount during this phase, enabling new mothers to recuperate and regain strength. Strategies include aligning sleep patterns with the baby, ensuring convenience for nighttime feedings, and delegating bottle feedings to others while ensuring ample rest. Maintaining proper nutrition remains essential, considering the body’s post-pregnancy changes. While pregnancy weight helps support breastfeeding, a healthy diet continues to be crucial.Postpartum care involves the following:
-Postpartum checkups: These appointments, usually within the first 3 weeks post-birth, assess healing progress and well-being.
-Screenings and exams: Early appointments include important tests, evaluations, and discussions.
-Birth control and sexual activity: Your doctor addresses contraception and resuming intimate relations.
-Future pregnancy plans: If desired, you’ll discuss the timing between pregnancies for optimal health.
-Health risks: Postpartum care is vital to detect and prevent potential complications, including serious conditions like postpartum preeclampsia.

-Postpartum vaginal care: Promote postpartum vaginal health through checkups around six weeks post-delivery, symptom identification and abstinence for healing.

Approximately 1 in 7 postpartum women experience signs of postpartum depression(PDP) [1]. Symptoms of PDP may include feelings of sadness, hopelessness, anxiety, and detachment from the baby, persisting for weeks or even months. Treatment options typically involve counseling and/or medication.

Caring for yourself during pregnancy means ensuring you and your baby stay healthy. Going to your doctor’s appointments and following their advice can lead to a smoother pregnancy and a happy childbirth. It’s all about listening to your body, staying healthy, and trusting your healthcare team as you go through this amazing journey.

(The article is written by Dr.Subita Alagh, Senior Executive, and reviewed by Monalisa Deka, Senior Health Content Editor)


1. Mughal S, Azhar Y, Siddiqui W. Postpartum Depression. [Updated 2022 Oct 7]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2023 Jan-. Available from:

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