Good health important during pregnancy

By Mary Anne Johnson, RN ERRN - Sampson County Health Department

As the New Year has begun, there are many things that we can do to stay healthy.

For those that are planning pregnancy or that are pregnant, there are steps that can be taken toward a healthy pregnancy.

Starting a family can be a time of happiness, as well as, a tremendous responsibility.

There are things that a woman does before and during pregnancy that can affect her health and any children she may have. It is important to take care of yourself physically and emotionally. For those of you that are trying to have a baby or are just thinking about it, it is not too early to begin getting ready. Two things that you can start with to increase your chances of having a healthy baby is to focus on having preconception health and health care.

First, make a plan and take action. Setting goals in life is very important, no matter what we are doing. Talk to your provider about preconception health care and discuss your health history and current medical condition. Collect information about your family’s health history to take with you to your first visit, because it may be important for your child’s health. If you smoke, drink alcohol, or use “street” drugs, live in a stressful and/or abusive environment; or work with or around toxic substances, then professionals can help with counseling, treatment, and support services. Smoking, drinking alcohol, and using street drugs can cause many problems such as premature birth, birth defects, as well as, infant death. If you are trying to get pregnant and cannot stop these behaviors, then get help.

It is recommended to take a folic acid, which is a B vitamin at least a month before and during pregnancy to help prevent major birth defects of the baby’s brain and spine. There are certain medicines during pregnancy that can cause serious birth defects. Always talk with your provider before taking prescription, over-the-counter medications or dietary and herbal supplements.

Reaching and maintaining a healthy weight has many benefits. People who are overweight or obese have a higher risk for many complications. The key to achieving and maintaining a healthy weight involves a lifestyle that includes healthy eating and physical activity for years to come.

Mental health is important in everyday life. It is how we think, feel, and act as we deal with life. To be at your best, you need to feel good about your life and value yourself. This is especially important when you are pregnant.

Once you are pregnant, keep up your new and acquired healthy habits and see your provider regularly throughout your pregnancy. Your provider will discuss this with you.

We provide early and continuous prenatal care to expectant mothers who are residents of Sampson County. The health department functions as a Pregnancy Medical Home. Therefore, we communicate with our OB Care Manager Nurses to provide caring and effective prenatal care. We accept private insurances, Medicaid, and services may be based on a sliding scale fee. For more information, or to schedule an appointment to begin prenatal care, call Sampson County Health Department at 910-592-1131, ext. 4001 or 4220.

By Mary Anne Johnson, RN ERRN

Sampson County Health Department