Benefits of Prenatal Care
Prenatal care is the health care you get while you are pregnant. To increase your chances of having a healthy pregnancy, healthy delivery and healthy baby, be sure to:
- Get early prenatal care. If you know you’re pregnant, or think you might be, schedule a visit to your doctor
- Get regular prenatal care. Your doctor will schedule you for many checkups over the course of your pregnancy. Don’t miss any — they are all important.
The benefits of receiving prenatal care are many:
- Prenatal visits will identify any potential health concerns, which can be treated when caught early
- Your doctor will provide specific information about things you should or should not eat during pregnancy
- Prenatal visits will help you track your baby’s development and how well he or she is doing
- You will learn about labor and delivery and understand procedures
- Early and regular prenatal visits help you and your baby have the care needed to help you deliver a healthy, full-term baby
- Your doctor can share information on important health issues, such as diet and nutrition, exercise, immunizations, weight gain, and more
- You will learn about nutrition for your newborn, the benefits of breastfeeding, and injury and illness prevention, as well as monitor for health-compromising conditions
Prenatal visits will help you prepare for the new emotional challenges of caring for your baby.
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Importance of Breastfeeding
Breastfeeding is an important step in giving our babies a healthy start in life. And it’s estimated that more than 900 infant lives per year may be saved in the United States if 90% of mothers exclusively breastfed for 6 months.
Breast milk helps reduce the risk of illness, asthma, sudden infant death syndrome, obesity, and childhood cancers; and helps develop the brain and nervous system. It also benefits the mother. Moms that breastfeed have reduced risk of breast and ovarian cancers, type 2 diabetes, and postpartum depression.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends providing breast milk only for the first six months of a baby’s life, then gradually adding solid foods while continuing breastfeeding until the baby’s first birthday. After that, breastfeeding can be continued, and while it is the mother’s choice – any amount of breast milk is encouraged.
To help moms to begin and continue exclusive breastfeeding for 6 months, it’s recommended that they:
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- Start breastfeeding within the first hour of life
- Give baby no food or drink other than breast milk, unless there is a medical need
- Sleep in the same room as the baby, but not on the same bed, couch or chair
- Breastfeed on demand - that is as often as the baby wants, day or night
- Give no bottles or pacifiers