By: Mary Anne Johnson, RN ERN Health Department
August 28, 2013
When a female becomes pregnant, it is an important time in her life. Those who receive prenatal care are more likely to receive access to screening and diagnostic testing that can help identify problems early, services to manage any existing problem; and education, counseling, and referral to reduce risky behaviors like substance use and inadequate nutrition. This care may help improve the health of mom and infant. Early prenatal care is very important! Prenatal Care not only needs to begin early, but should continue regularly.
There are benefits of Folic Acid. Sufficient folic acid in women’s diets before and during pregnancy can reduce the risk of birth defects of the brain and spinal cord known as neural tube defects. While the public awareness has improved over the years, most women of childbearing age do not know about the benefits of folic acid.
Women who smoke during pregnancy are more likely than nonsmokers to have a baby with low birth weight or born preterm (too early). There are studies that have shown that women who stop smoking before becoming pregnant or early in pregnancy decrease their risk of having a baby with low birth weight.
The use of alcohol and other drugs during pregnancy can have harmful effects for mom and baby. Heavy alcohol consumption during pregnancy may lead to a combination of physical and mental birth defects.
Obesity increases the risk of a pregnancy outcome. It may cause serious pregnancy related medical complications like hypertension and diabetes. This may contribute to a baby’s prematurity as well as increase the expectant mothers’ chances of a cesarean section. There are interventions that the individual and the provider can discuss and work toward to try to prevent complications.
Knowing certain facts and working closely with your prenatal provider can help you and your baby before, during, and after pregnancy. The number one thing that is desired is a healthy mom and healthy baby!
Sampson County Health Department’s Maternal Health Program provides early and continuous prenatal care to expectant mothers of Sampson County. We accept private insurances, Medicaid, and services are based on a sliding scale fee. For more information or to make an appointment, call 910-592-1131.