Prenatal Health

The good care you provide for yourself through nutrition, exercise, vitamins and prenatal tests has a direct effect on your health and your baby.

General Information

Your pregnancy is unique and your experience is individual, but in a normal pregnancy there are certain changes that that are common. The more you know about the physical and emotional changes, the more likely you are to have a positive experience.

Preconceptual Counseling: If you are having sex and you are capable of becoming pregnant, taking 0.4 mg of folic acid lowers the risk of birth defects. In fact, the CDC has determined that daily use of vitamin supplements containing folic acid has been demonstrated to reduce the occurrence of neural tube defects by two thirds. You shold be taking folic acid each day in case you become pregnant.

Travel During Pregnancy: Traveling during pregnancy is perfectly safe to travel during the first, second and even the third trimester as long as you are not experiencing any complications and your doctor has not indicated any reasons for prohibiting travel.

Weight Gain: The average recommended weight gain during pregnancy is 25 to 35 pounds, however you and your doctor should address your pregnancy uniquely.

Birth Defects

About 3% to 5% of babies are born with birth defects.

Down Syndrome: According to the CDC, Down syndrome remains the most common chromosomal condition diagnosed in the United States. Each year, about 6,000 babies born in the United States have Down syndrome. This means that Down syndrome occurs in about 1 out of every 700 babies.

Chorionic Villus Sampling Chorionic villus sampling (CVS) is a procedure used to diagnose certain birth defects in the first trimester of pregnancy. The test has been performed regularly since 1982, and thousands have been performed around the world.

Amniocentesis: Amniocentesis is a procedure performed on pregnant women in their second trimester to diagnose or rule out birth defects.
The consumption of vitamin A at levels at/or above 10,000 IU (200% of the Daily Value, or DV), or 3000 Retinol equivalents (REs), can be linked to some types of birth defects.  This has raised serious public health concerns.

Prenatal Testing

A variety of prenatal tests are available. While not all patients need or will have all the various tests, it is good to know that they are available.

Home pregnancy kits provide privacy and fast results, and can detect pregnancy as early as 6 days after conception, or 1 day after a missed menstrual period.

Alpha-Fetoprotein Test: The AFP test identifies pregnancies at higher-than-average risk of certain serious birth defects, such as spina bifida (open spine) and Down syndrome.

Fetal Well-Being Tests: These tests are designed to evaluate the status of the placenta and whether or not oxygen and nutrition transferred to the fetus are being affected.

Triple Screen Test: The Triple Screen is a prenatal blood test that measures alpha-fetoprotein (AFP), chorionic gonadotropin (hCG), and unconjugated estriol (uE3). The test is performed between the 12th and 19th week of pregnancy to provide you and your doctor valuable information about you and your growing fetus.

Ultrasound Pregnancy: ultrasound is a method of imaging the fetus and the female pelvic organs during pregnancy. The ultrasound machine sends out high-frequency sound waves, which reflect off body structures to create a picture.

Non-Invasive Prenatal Test (NIPT):  genetic testing using cell-free fetal DNA that circulates in maternal blood.  The test can be done as early as 10 weeks of pregnancy to detect Trisomy 21 (Down syndrome) and many more chromosomal abnormalities. This test is only indicated for high risk pregnancies such as: personal or family history of aneuploidy, advance maternal age, an abnormal serum screen and/or abnormal ultrasound


When you are pregnant, everything you eat and drink affects you and your growing baby, so eating a well-balanced diet becomes even more important. Healthcare officials have issued a new advisory on the dangers of eating fish. Healthcare officials are concerned that the level of mercury in fish might pose certain risks to a developing fetus.

Food can be contaminated with a bacteria called Listeria. Learn to protect your food against this common bacteria.

10 must have foods during Pregnancy:

  • Milk and Milk Products
  • Vegetables
  • Fruits
  • Poultry and Fish
  • Legumes
  • Cereals and Grains
  • Fats and Oils
  • Dry Fruits and Nuts
  • Bread
  • Salt

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