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Prenatal Care: What Should I Be Doing?

Dr TC Tan | Published on February 16, 2023

Proper prenatal care ensures that you’re getting all the help you can get to take care of your health and that of your growing baby.

Make Regular Prenatal Visits To Your Doctor

You should make your first prenatal visit to a doctor after a positive home pregnancy test. Follow our tips for choosing an obstetrician and hospital. Throughout your pregnancy, your doctor may schedule more appointments depending on your need. If you experience any unusual signs like tummy pain or bleeding, don’t wait for your next check-up, see your doctor as soon as you can.

Do All Your Prenatal Screenings

During your first prenatal visit, your doctor will perform a series of blood tests to rule out anaemia and thalassaemia, along with other illnesses that could seriously harm you and your baby. Ultrasound scans can be used to screen congenital defects in later stages. Make sure you’re doing all the necessary screening tests to manage any health risks.

Eat Right

If you have had your first pre-pregnancy consultation, your doctor will have already advised you about what your diet should look like for the coming weeks. Balance your intake of healthy carbs, protein and fibre, and make sure you are getting enough vitamins and minerals such as iron, calcium and DHA.

Folate (a form of vitamin B) is extremely important for the brain and spinal cord development of your baby, so make sure you’re eating enough green leafy vegetables. If you don’t consume enough folate in its natural form, ideally you should take a folic acid supplement 3 months before conception — but it’s never too late to start.

In the first trimester, you don’t need any extra calories on top of the 1,800 per day recommended for women in Singapore. In Trimester 2 you will need an extra 300 a day, rising to 450 a day in Trimester 3. Make sure to get the extra energy from a healthy food source — lean protein, healthy fats and carbs. Depending on your pre-pregnancy weight you should be gaining between 10 kilograms and 12.5 kilograms over the course of your entire pregnancy.

You don’t have to forgo your morning coffee but try to limit your caffeine intake to 200 milligrams per day — that’s one cup of regular coffee or black tea.

Alcohol, on the other hand, is best to be avoided completely. Uncooked meats, eggs that aren’t completely cooked and raw fish should not be part of your diet as they could cause a listeria infection, which can cause miscarriage, stillbirth or infection in the baby.

Quit Smoking

Again, ideally you should have quit smoking before you conceived but better late than never — smoking can cause premature birth or low birth weight in the baby. If you need help quitting, try the I Quit programme or speak to your doctor. If any family members who live with you are smokers, ask them to give up as well.

Stay Active

Exercise throughout your pregnancy helps you manage your weight and combat some of the pregnancy symptoms like backache and swollen legs. In most cases, aim to get 30 minutes of moderate exercise every day. Walking and swimming are great ways to get your heart rate up without putting too much stress on your joints. If you have a medical condition, check with your doctor to see what form of exercise is most suitable for you.

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