Beyond Vitamins: 4 Tips For Better Prenatal Care

When you read the words "prenatal care" what comes to mind? Most women think of taking prenatal vitamins and visiting the doctor for regular checkups. Indeed, these steps are really important to ensure the health of mother and child. However, there are some other prenatal care tips you should also follow.

1. Create a birth plan.

As soon as possible, you should meet with your doctor, midwife (if you will have one), and partner to start discussing your birth plan. You need to make decisions such as whether you will have an epidural, if you will induce labor, if you don't go into labor naturally by a certain date, and whether you want an episiotomy. Having a birth plan in place will help you relax and be reassured that everything is okay throughout your pregnancy. This is good for your mental health, and when you are mentally healthy, you are better equipped to deal with the many changes that come with pregnancy and birth.

2. Track what you eat.

Download a fitness tracker app and keep track of what you eat. Make sure that you designate that you are pregnant in the app so it accounts for that when determining your ideal intake of calories and certain nutrients. This can make you more aware of what you're consuming, so you're more likely to eat more vegetables and less likely to take a second helping of chocolate cake.

3. Drink lots of water.

Pregnancy demands a lot of fluids. You need fluids to make the excess blood that your body needs at this time, and you also need fluids for form the amniotic fluid around your baby. Many women end up dehydrated during pregnancy, and that contributes to feelings of malaise and fatigue. Buy a water bottle and take it with you everywhere. Remember to sip often and also track how much you're drinking in a day. Aim to drink 10 8-ounce glasses of water a day.

4. Get lots of sleep.

Your body needs sleep in order for your baby to grow. Sleep also helps you avoid illness and mental fatigue. It can be tough to sleep when pregnant, but work on finding body pillows, comfortable bedding, and comfortable pajamas that help. Go to bed at the same time each night and sleep in when you can.

Talk to your doctor for more prenatal care tips. By following the ones above, you'll be off to a good start.