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Prenatal care is the care a woman gets before and during pregnancy. Prenatal care includes health care, education and counseling about how to handle and monitor the different stages of pregnancy. Your doctor or health care provider may discuss many issues with you such as proper nutrition, physical activity, what to expect during the birth process and basic skills for infant care.
Getting early and regular prenatal care is essential for your health and the health of your unborn baby. Your doctor will schedule you for several checkups over the course of your pregnancy. Be sure not to miss any — they are all important to your baby's well being.
Babies of mothers who do not receive or seek out prenatal care are three times more likely to have a low birth weight and five times more likely to die than those born to mothers who do get that care. Doctors can spot health problems early when they see expecting mothers regularly. Regular prenatal care visits allow doctors to jumpstart treatment for a problem early enough to be safe. Early treatment can cure many problems as well as work to prevent others.
If you are planning on conceiving a child, you should start taking care of yourself before you start trying to become pregnant. This is known as preconception health. It is important to consult your doctor before pregnancy in order to learn what you can do to prepare your body.