A healthy pregnancy starts before baby is on board

You don’t need to wait until you are pregnant to plan a healthy pregnancy. Start ahead of time with a preconception care visit with your healthcare provider. Then, stay on track for a healthy pregnancy and birth with prenatal care visits.

What happens during these visits?

woman with prenatal care doctor

Preconception care involves learning how you can take care of your own body before pregnancy. This care can include:

  • Checking your folic acid levels
  • Finding any health problems (like high blood pressure)
  • Making sure you’ve received recommended vaccines

Prenatal care includes care for your body and your baby when you are pregnant. During these visits, you may:

  • Get a physical exam
  • Have your weight checked
  • May give blood samples
  • May have imaging tests done (like ultrasounds)
  • Provide urine samples to test certain levels

Both types of visits give you time to ask questions. They can be about your health, pregnancy, and/or your baby’s development.

Reducing risks

  • Avoid exposure to potentially harmful substances, such as lead and radiation.
  • Control existing conditions, like high blood pressure and diabetes.
  • Ensure that your medications are safe to take while pregnant.1
  • Follow a healthy and safe diet.
  • Get regular exercise as advised by your doctor.2
  • Give up alcohol 3
  • Quit tobacco 4
  • Take recommended supplements, including prenatal vitamins that have at least 400 micrograms of folic acid.

If you think you are pregnant, congratulations! Schedule a visit with your healthcare provider to begin prenatal care.

Postpartum care

Taking home a new baby is one of the happiest times in a woman's life. But it also presents both physical and emotional challenges.

  • Get as much rest as possible. You may find that all you can do is eat, sleep, and care for your baby. And that is perfectly okay. You will have spotting or bleeding, like a menstrual period, off and on for up to six weeks.
  • You might also have swelling in your legs and feet, feel constipated, have menstrual-like cramping. Even if you are not breastfeeding, you can have milk leaking from your nipples, and your breasts might feel full, tender, or uncomfortable.
  • Follow your doctor's instructions on how much activity, like climbing stairs or walking, you can do for the next few weeks.
  • Doctors usually recommend that you abstain from sexual intercourse for four to six weeks after birth.
  • In addition to physical changes, you may feel sad or have the "baby blues." If you are extremely sad or are unable to care for yourself or your baby, you might have a serious condition called postpartum depression.
  • Be sure to make a postpartum care plan with your provider during pregnancy and get a complete postpartum checkup no later than 12 weeks after giving birth.

A little extra care from Capital Blue Cross

Capital Blue Cross supports expecting and new mothers through our Care Management service, Precious Baby Prints. We provide support and advice to our members for a healthy pregnancy. This includes tips about breastfeeding and breast pumps, nutrition and exercise, and anything in between. Our case managers also are available for mothers and babies with special needs. Contact us or call 855.924.6448 to get started.

Interested in health and wellness information? Visit the Capital Journal for more articles.

Interested in drug information? Visit our prescription education section.

This article uses information from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development and NIH.

1Women should not take certain medications while pregnant, including some acne treatments and dietary and herbal supplements.

2Adopting a healthy diet and lifestyle can lower your risk of developing gestational diabetes.

3Drinking too much can lead to fetal alcohol spectrum disorder. This can cause abnormal facial features, a small head, poor coordination, intellectual disabilities, and problems with the heart, kidneys, or bones.

4Along with alcohol, smoking can increase the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).