Pregnancy is one of the miraculous experiences a mother could have and in between these experiences there are more exciting things that we often forget to talk about.
Most of us think pregnancy is all about the nine months of baby getting developed but it starts way before that and ends at a later stage as well.
Here we are going to talk about the two important phases of pregnancy care which are antenatal (Before birth) and Postnatal (after birth). We all understand the joy of giving birth. However, a harsh reality is the serious risks involved to the health of the mother and the baby. As per the data for maternal deaths, the WHO researcher noticed that the deaths could have been prevented. The rate of maternal mortality is very high.
Antenatal care and postnatal care are important factors that can prevent complications and mortality during pregnancy or even after birth as well. Many steps can there be tailored according to women’s and baby’s health which requires a series of services along with a support system given by the medical team and family members. It could involve treatments and pieces of training to ensure a healthy pregnancy, delivery, and after-birth care.
What Is Antenatal Care?
Antenatal care does not have a fixed time, though it is should be given as early as possible to decrease the risk with the pregnancy and protect the mother and the baby. A regular visit to the doctor for antenatal care helps identify early risks or complications before its too late. Babies born without antenatal care have a high risk of getting low birth weight which in turn could contribute to risk and complication after birth. Low birth weight newborns are five times more likely to die than those who received antenatal care.
Starting early is the key factor here. A doctor recommends starting 3-4 months before you begin trying to conceive. Moreover, people who are trying to conceive, can have a healthy lifestyle and stop or start various practices which could help a mother as well as their baby. These habits include:-
- Quit Smoking
- Restrict alcohol consumption
- Adding supplements to food.
- Giving attention to your medical condition
- Consult with a doctor before consuming any drugs
What Is Postnatal Care?
Postnatal care also known as postpartum care is also an important part of pregnancy care. These periods start after the delivery of the baby and usually last for 6-8 weeks Postnatal care helps the mother to adjust to the physical and psychological changes after birth. These cares are designed according to the needs of the new mothers and their health. While a mother learns how to take care of the baby, she goes through many emotional changes that why this postnatal care suggests resting, eating a healthy diet, and vaginal care.
Best practices that could help a mother are:-
- Providing postnatal care within the first 24 hours.
- Not discharging mother and their newborn for at least 24 hours.
- Should have at least 4 postnatal checkups in the first 6 weeks.
Other practices that could help newborns are:-
- Postnatal care at home or visit a health facility.
- The postnatal care team should focus on newborns and look for any severe illness.
- Promote early and exclusive breastfeeding.
- Use of chlorhexidine for umbilical cord care for babies born at home.
What to expect during Postnatal Care visits?
- Performing Physical Checkups and Monitoring
- Providing Nutrition Consulting
- Consulting on Breastfeeding
- Advising on Care for Newborns
- Administering Postnatal Testing
Apart from the above-mentioned tests, postnatal care also focuses on postnatal depression
Antenatal and Postnatal care: why does it matter?
Getting pregnant and giving birth are among the happiest moments of a mother’s life. However, many women throughout the world do not get the chance to see their newborn grow up due to complications during the pregnancy period.
As per UNICEF data, every day 800 women dies due to complication in their pregnancy. In India, a woman dies due to pregnancy or while delivering the baby.
Preparing women before conceiving helps women understand the process and prepare themselves to decide to move forward with the pregnancy. The mortality rate of young girls between the 15-19 age group is high as their bodies are still growing and they are still experiencing some changes.
A woman should have access to antenatal and postnatal care to ensure the best for her and her baby. According to WHO, a pregnant woman should visit a doctor for antenatal care at least four times. The physiotherapy for pregnant woman could provide the opportunity to detect and possibly prevent after-birth complications.
Whereas postnatal visits should help mothers and newborns to have the support for adjusting themselves with all the changes happening.
What’s the best diet?
A woman should eat the healthiest food during the pregnancy period which includes whole foods that are high in protein, vitamins, and minerals, and healthy fats.
What’s the best exercise?
Backaches, insomnia swollen ankles, and various other painful changes occur during pregnancy that’s why exercising could help a pregnant woman get relief and other benefits.
When to see a doctor?
- For antenatal care, a woman should start visiting 4 weeks before getting conceived.
- During pregnancy time, regular checks should be advisable.
- For postnatal care, after 6-7 weeks of delivery is when a mother should schedule an appointment to discuss any symptoms or other issues.
Ideally, antenatal care facilities recommend 12-15 visits to your doctor as well as numerous visits during the postnatal period. However, women often do not get proper care while they are pregnant.
There are a few tips that can help women to have complication-free antenatal, during pregnancy period and postnatal experience:-
- Getting enough rest
- Eating healthy food
- Exercise for getting relief from pain
- Try to understand your body and their needs
- Try to obey the limits of your own body
- Regular visits to a doctor
- Focusing on any symptoms
Women often think that OBGYNs are the only doctor who can provide antenatal or postnatal care. However, many service providers can help with antenatal and postnatal care.
- Family Physicians
- Family Nurse Practitioners
- Certified Nurse-Midwives
What should I expect during pregnancy?
- High blood pressure
- Excessive vomiting
- Poor blood circulation
- Varicose veins
- Kidney problems
- Abdominal pain
- Aches and pains
Where do I go when am pregnant?
You should go to any Health facility/ob-gyn and should enroll yourself for antenatal care.
Why should I go for antenatal care?
Getting antenatal care is beneficial for a mother and her baby. A woman who gets antenatal care usually:
- Have complication-free deliveries
- Prevents from delivering premature babies
- Get early detection of complications which helps the mother as well as the baby.
When can I go for antenatal care?
Antenatal care should start as early as possible. Women should have antenatal care before they conceive.
How many times should I attend antenatal care?
Doctors recommend 12-15 antenatal visits. However, women should get at least 4 visits for antenatal care.