Prenatal and Postnatal Care for Expecting Mothers (a Quick Guide)
Both Types of Care Are Essential
Every pregnancy is unique. As an expectant mother, you’ll be regularly prompted to choose what kind of support is best for you and your child. That includes choosing you an OBGYN that best fits your needs. It could also mean working closely with a midwife and/or a doula.
Whatever your unique journey, you’ll likely want substantial care before, during, and after childbirth—for the well-being of both you and your child.
What’s the difference between prenatal and postnatal care? And what should the expectant mother… well, expect? We wrote this post just for you - to support you on both parts of your journey. By the end of it, we hope you feel more informed and confident.
What Are Prenatal Care and Postnatal Care?
They’re crucial stages of motherhood, each with distinct focuses.
Prenatal care, from conception to birth, emphasizes maintaining a healthy pregnancy and preparing for childbirth. It involves regular check-ups to monitor the mother and baby's health, and education about healthy habits and labor. Prenatal care helps diagnose and treat any medical conditions that could affect the baby’s development during pregnancy
It’s important to get regular medical check-ups, education on childbirth, and of course, the right nutrition and supplementation, like prenatal multivitamins and prenatal DHA.
Postnatal care is for the period after birth. Its goal is to help the mother recover after childbirth and ensure that the baby is growing and thriving. Healthcare during this time includes monitoring the mother's recovery, supporting breastfeeding, and tracking the baby's development. Regular healthcare visits are just as important during this stage, as well as the right postnatal nutrition.
What Is Prenatal Care? A Closer Look
Prenatal care is important for a healthy pregnancy. It involves regular check-ups with a healthcare provider to monitor the health of both mother and baby. These visits are designed to catch and treat potential health problems throughout the course of the pregnancy, but also to be preventative and holistic and to support the mother to achieve a healthy lifestyle that benefits both mother and baby. The frequency of these visits may vary depending on the stage of pregnancy and the mother's overall health condition.
What to Expect During Prenatal Care
Think of prenatal care as your trusted companion during pregnancy. It’s a great feeling to have all the support should you need it. Key events and milestones during this period can include:
Guidance can include recommendations on the intake of essential nutrients like folate, calcium, iron, and protein— all of which are crucial for the baby's development. You’ll also learn which foods to avoid during pregnancy to prevent potential health risks.
Physical Exams and Blood Tests
Exams are conducted regularly to monitor the mother's overall health and detect potential complications early. These exams may include measuring blood pressure, tracking weight gain, and assessing the growth and position of the baby. Blood tests are performed to screen for conditions like anemia, HIV, and gestational diabetes and to confirm the blood type of the mother.
Ultrasounds are imaging tests that use sound waves to produce pictures of the baby in the womb. They’ll be used to monitor the baby's growth, confirm the due date, check the placenta’s position, and detect any abnormalities or complications. Ultrasounds also provide an opportunity for parents to see their baby for the first time.
These tests will assess the risk to the baby of having certain genetic disorders. These tests are optional and may include screening tests like blood tests and ultrasounds, as well as diagnostic tests.
Education About Labor and Delivery
If you’re nervous, that’s normal! Learning about the process of labor and delivery in preparation for childbirth can help mothers and fathers feel a bit more relaxed.
Education can include the stages of labor, pain relief options, breathing techniques, and the signs of actual labor. It may also cover potential scenarios like cesarean delivery or what to do in case of premature labor. If you’re not sure where to find this education, your local hospital is a good place to start.
Mental Health Support
Pregnancy can bring a range of emotions and tremendous hormonal fluctuations, and it’s not uncommon for expectant mothers to experience mental health issues like anxiety or depression. The good news is prenatal care also includes support for these mental health challenges, offering resources like counseling services, support groups, and medication if necessary. The goal is to ensure the mother's mental well-being throughout her pregnancy journey.
What Is Postnatal Care? A Closer Look
Postnatal care is just as important as prenatal care. This period begins immediately after the birth of the baby and can extend for 6 or more weeks. Postnatal care can include monitoring the health of both mother and baby, addressing any complications, and providing support and education to the new parents. This care is often provided by a team of healthcare professionals, which may include obstetricians, pediatricians, midwives, doulas, lactation consultants, and mental health professionals!
What to Expect During Postnatal Care
Your care team’s goal is to make sure you and your bundle of joy are adjusting well. Let's unpack some of the essential events and milestones to expect during this period.
Assessment of Mom’s Physical and Mental Health
Healthcare providers will check vital signs such as blood pressure, temperature, and pulse and assess the healing of any wounds or incisions, particularly in the case of a cesarean section. Mental health is also paid close attention to, with healthcare providers screening for postpartum depression and providing resources for support if needed.
Possible Tests for Mother or Baby
Depending on the health of the mother and the baby, various tests may be ordered. For the mother, these may include blood tests to check for anemia or infections, and for the baby, tests could include newborn screening tests to detect potential genetic disorders, hearing tests, and more.
Information and Support About Caring for a New Baby
Postnatal care also involves educating new parents on how to care for their newborn. Guidance may be around breastfeeding, understanding the baby's sleep patterns, ensuring proper nutrition, and learning about baby safety—including how to recognize signs of illness in a baby and when to seek medical attention.
Health and Wellness Advice for Mom
This can include guidance on nutrition and exercise, managing sleep deprivation, and taking care of the perineal area or cesarean wound. It can also involve discussions about contraception and plans for future pregnancies.
Think of Best Nest Wellness as Your Partner in Prenatal and Postnatal Nutrition
As we’ve said, having a solid support team will be an immense relief during pregnancy and after birth. As you embark on this remarkable journey, think of Best Nest Wellness as another trusted partner in your corner. We are completely dedicated to supporting your baby's health and your health.
Our formulas are crafted by America’s Dr. Brain Mom for whole-brain, whole-body wellness—and this means the right prenatal and postnatal supplements with the specific nutritional support your body needs during pregnancy and the postpartum period.
Our supplements prioritize purity, potency, and bioavailability. With rigorous testing, sustainable practices, and dedication to exceeding industry standards, we've got you covered.
Your family’s well-being is our priority, and we're honored to be a part of your journey.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is prenatal care?
Prenatal care is healthcare during pregnancy to monitor the mother and baby's health, but can also encompass care around fertility during the TTC (trying to conceive) period.
What is postnatal care?
Postnatal care is healthcare after childbirth to support mother's healthy recovery and baby's continued healthy development.
Why are regular healthcare visits important during prenatal care?
They monitor the mother and baby's health and detect potential complications early. Don’t skip these!
Why are regular healthcare visits important during postnatal care?
They monitor the mother's recovery and the baby's growth and development. Don’t skip these either!
What nutrients are important during prenatal care?
A balance of all essential nutrients is important. Folic acid, iron, calcium, vitamin D, DHA, and iodine are especially crucial during pregnancy.
What nutrients are important during postnatal care?
Protein, iron, calcium, vitamins A, C, and D, and omega-3 fats are essential.
How does prenatal care prepare for childbirth?
Prenatal care provides education about labor, delivery, and healthy lifestyle habits.
Can prenatal and postnatal care prevent complications?
Absolutely, that’s why it’s so important to stay diligent with your exams and visits. Both types of care can detect and address potential health issues early. Per the CDC: “Living a healthy lifestyle and getting health care before, during, and after pregnancy can lower your risk of pregnancy complications.”
Are prenatal and postnatal care necessary for all pregnancies?
Yes, they are essential for the health of the mother and baby, so try to use all the healthcare resources that are available to you!