By Dr. Gauri Valame, Gynaecology
There are three stages of caring for an expecting mother: prenatal, intranatal, postnatal care. This is essential to ensure smooth pregnancy and labor and to keep the mother healthy after giving birth. This care is a combined effort between the doctor and the expectant couple. Here are a few things to keep in mind if you are expecting an addition to your family.
Prenatal care from the moment you realize that you are pregnant, a woman must start taking extra care of her body. This reduces the risks in your pregnancy and at the time of labor. But even before planning a pregnancy, it is important that couples should consult with the doctor, in order to avoid any complications in the future. Thus, you should ensure that regular checkup not just during the pregnancy, but also before the pregnancy is equally important so that your doctor can rule out complications arising due to factors, such as Thalassemia, Thyroid, Blood Sugar and PCOS, etc.
The main objectives of prenatal care are:
- To maintain the health of the mother
- Detect high-risk cases
- Foresee complications and find ways to prevent them
- Reduce anxiety associated with delivery
Thus, an important part of prenatal care is to visit your gynaecologist regularly. These visits will be scheduled according to your age and stage of pregnancy. A few other points to keep in mind are:
- Stop smoking and stay away from passive smoking as well
- Stop drinking alcohol
- Avoid contact with toxic chemicals like insecticides etc.
- Ensure your vaccination is up to date
- Avoid x-rays
- Do not start or stop any medication without informing your doctor first
- Eat healthy food and drink plenty of water
- Exercise regularly for half an hour daily
- Get plenty of rest
- Avoid stress
- Educate yourself about childbirth
Intranatal care refers to care given to the mother and baby at the time of delivery. The main objectives here are:
- Smooth delivery without injuring mother or baby
- Preventing complications
- Delivery resuscitation for the baby
There are a number of ways to deliver a baby and whatever you choose, you must ensure the presence of a doctor at your side, while delivering a baby. Your doctor will determine the position of the fetus and help you through your delivery.
Postnatal care is essential for 6-8 weeks after the baby is born. During this period, the mother goes through a number of physical and emotional changes and thus requires rest, nutrition and vaginal care. The main objectives here are:
- Prevent postpartum complications
- Restore the mother to optimal health
- Ensure problem-free breastfeeding
Sharing responsibility is essential for the health of the mother, after delivery. Get as much sleep as possible and pay attention to what you eat. Do not try and lose your pregnancy weight instantly. Schedule a checkup with your doctor six weeks after delivery to ensure your vagina has healed properly. Additionally, abstain from intercourse at this time. With proper care, every stage of your pregnancy can be a beautiful experience.