The health and well-being of the newborn infant begins well before delivery. The proper care of the prospective mother is as important to the unborn as is expert care during the birth process and newborn period.

During the nine months of pregnancy, the gap between good health and ill health can be a small one. What may ordinarily be of little importance may become a grave concern during pregnancy, which can threaten the health of mother and child. For these reasons, every woman should secure the services of a competent health care practitioner as soon as she suspects she is pregnant.

The main goal of good prenatal care is to protect maternal health before and after delivery, lessen complications which can occur during pregnancy, and facilitate the planning of a safe delivery.

Regular patient visits are scheduled monthly for the first six months, then every two to three weeks until the last month, when weekly visits are necessary.

The patient should report any abnormality, no matter how slight, with regard to her physical condition. It is up to the physician to interpret the symptoms. The physician should be notified at once if the following occur: bloody urine, severe and continuous headaches, visual problems, swelling of the feet or hands, bloody or watery vaginal discharge, lower abdominal pain, or chills and fever.
Diet during pregnancy should be well-balanced. For a person of normal weight, a weight gain of about 20 pounds is appropriate. For those who are underweight, overweight, malnourished or have a medical disorder, special diets are planned. Vitamins, with or without fluoride, are usually prescribed.

Increased water intake and exercise with more dietary roughage (vegetables, fruits and bran cereals) should be encouraged. Clothing should be loose, and constricting girdles and garters should not be worn. Breasts need no special care unless a woman is planning to nurse, and certain creams may be used to prepare the nipple area.

Intercourse can be practiced without any restrictions as long there are no complications during the pregnancy. It is not advisable to have sex for two weeks before delivery and for two weeks after delivery, unless otherwise advised.
With respect to drugs during pregnancy, pregnant woman should not take anything without a doctor’s advice, including over-the-counter drugs. Alcohol and smoking are definitely associated with premature birth and birth defects.

Many people ask: why go to the hospital? Why pay all that money? I remind those whose thoughts run in that direction that the complication and death rate for mothers and babies is much higher for home deliveries than for controlled deliveries in a clinical setting.