Pregnancy is natural, but it’s not always smooth, either for you or your baby. Your developing fetus needs extra nutrients to thrive and you need support, too, to stay as healthy and comfortable as possible throughout the gestation period.
Our caring and experienced OB/GYNs — Daniel McDyer, MD, FACOG, and Julian Stephen Suhrer, MD — put you on the right path toward a healthy delivery with prenatal care at Florida Woman Care of Jacksonville in Jacksonville, Florida. If you're pregnant, here are some of the first steps you should take.
Get a prenatal exam
When you’re pregnant, your doctor gives you a complete physical as part of your prenatal exam, including taking blood and urine tests. We want to identify any potential problems as soon as possible so that they can be addressed. Tests you can expect include:
- Pelvic exam
- Blood typing
- Blood pressure
- Determining your blood’s Rh factor
- Tests for sexually transmitted diseases and other infections
- Immunity to measles and chickenpox
- Mental health screening
Your first prenatal exam is also a time when you and your doctor discuss your lifestyle, changes to your routine that you might need to make, and any questions or concerns you might have. Your OB/GYN also lets you know what to expect in the coming months, including how often you should return for follow-up exams and imaging studies, including ultrasound.
If your doctor identifies any underlying health issues, such as an infection, they prescribe treatment to resolve or manage it, or refer you to a specialist. They also discuss potential risk factors that might affect your pregnancy, including an increased risk for gestational diabetes that might require lifestyle adjustments to mitigate.
Take folic acid
Your baby needs folic acid to build a healthy neural tube. The neural tube is the part of a fetus that develops into its brain and spinal cord. Without sufficient folic acid, your baby could have neural tube defects, such as anencephaly (i.e., missing part of its brain) or spina bifida (i.e., a damaged or incompletely developed spinal cord).
Ideally, you should take folic acid — a form of Vitamin B — before you become pregnant. However, if you’re not already taking this supplement, your doctor advises you to add 400 mcg of supplemental folic acid to your diet right away. You should also eat healthy, fresh foods that are rich in Vitamin B and other nutrients.
Eat a healthy diet
If you’re used to grabbing processed or fast foods to get through your busy day, we help you learn how to incorporate fresh, healthy, whole foods into your diet to improve your health and your baby’s health, too. If you’re overweight or underweight, we help you achieve a healthy weight while maintaining the nutrition you need to support a growing fetus.
Exercise is more important than ever when you’re pregnant. As your baby gains weight and grows, it puts extra stress on your joints, raising your risk for joint pain and even arthritis. We help you devise and stick to an exercise plan that’s appropriate for each trimester of your pregnancy.
The more you do to ensure your own health, the healthier your baby will be, too. Exercise helps your body detox, strengthens your cardiovascular system, and also increases core and muscle strength.
Keep your follow-up appointments
We monitor the progress of your pregnancy and fetal development with regular check-ups. In addition to conducting physical exams and blood tests, we perform at least two ultrasound studies to check if your baby is developing normally. For most healthy women, the follow-up schedule is:
- Every 4-6 weeks until week 32
- Every 2-3 weeks from weeks 32-37
- Every week after week 37 until delivery
If you have a high-risk pregnancy, we ask that you come in more often than the normal follow-up schedule. A pregnancy is considered high risk if the mother or baby has risk factors such as:
- Maternal age over 35
- Maternal health conditions
- High risk for genetic diseases
Depending on your history and risk factors, you may also wish to undergo further testing, including genetic testing that could identify chromosomal abnormalities in your fetus.
Celebrate the new life inside of you by getting the prenatal care you both need and deserve today. Contact the nearest Florida Woman Care of Jacksonville office by phone or online form.