When we remember that the life of a baby begins nine months before he decides to put in an appearance, we can readily understand that he should be cared for in the best possible way during those months.
What is prenatal care and why is it important?
As baby gains all the nourishment required for his growth and development from his mother, it naturally follows that prenatal care really means the care of the mother. In times past the coming of a baby was looked on as such a natural event that not much notice was taken of the mother’s health.
This often meant serious illness or even worse for her and a puny, weak, or even a stillborn baby, but with the recognition of the mother’s place as a “Very Important Person” and the increase in medical knowledge and skill, while birth is still regarded as a perfectly natural event, prenatal care has become of paramount importance.
So, here is the answer to our question. Prenatal care is the care of the expectant mother, so that the best possible health may be secured for both her and her baby.
Knowing what prenatal care means, how do we put it into practice?
By attention to general healthy way of diet, exercise, rest, personal and general hygiene, and by special attention to additional vitamins, mineral salts, such as calcium and iron, according to the doctor’s instructions.
In addition, the expectant mother should avoid as far as possible any contact with cases of infectious diseases and with those who have themselves been in contact with such cases, especially the virus diseases, of which the most important, so far as the expectant mother is concerned, is rubella, commonly known as German measles. Other diseases of this type are whooping cough and influenza.
Rubella was always regarded as a mild complaint, rarely accompanied or followed by serious complications, but since 1941, when a report from a Sydney doctor startled the medical world by stating that a high percentage of babies of mothers who had rubella in the early months of pregnancy were born with many congenital defects e.g., deafness, blindness, heart affections, etc., and most of the babies were small, undernourished, and hard to feed.
This report has since been confirmed by evidence from all over the world. The severity of the attack does not matter, for serious malformations have followed even the mildest attack of German measles.
Most babies who are naturally fed do not contract infectious diseases, but some doctors advise expectant mothers to be inoculated against whooping cough and diphtheria during the last three months of pregnancy.
Especially if there are cases of these diseases about, so that their babies will be immune until they are old enough to have their own injections. You would have to leave it to your own doctor to decide whether such inoculations were necessary or not.
Briefly, our advice to expectant mothers is this:
- Visit your doctor as soon as you think you are going to have a baby, and follow his advice carefully.
- Avoid contact with infectious cases.
- Lead as healthy a life as possible.
- Include all the vitamin-containing foods in your diet, and so help to build up a natural immunity to infections.