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Pregnancy and Postpartum Care

If you are trying to have a baby or thinking about getting pregnant, one of the best things you can do for your baby is to plan ahead. Get your body ready for pregnancy by making healthy choices before and during your pregnancy. You can increase your chance of having a normal, uncomplicated pregnancy by following a few simple guidelines.

For information on TRICARE maternity benefits, visit www.tricare.mil/isitcovered.

Before Getting Pregnant

Being healthy before you get pregnant can help you have a healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby. The March of Dimes lists the following actions to take before pregnancy:

  • get a preconception checkup
  • get a dental checkup
  • make sure you are current on your vaccinations
  • eat healthy and get to a healthy weight
  • take a prenatal vitamin with 400 micrograms of folic acid daily
  • don’t smoke, drink alcohol or use drugs
  • reduce the stress in your life

During Pregnancy

If you have just become pregnant, or think you might be, call your doctor to schedule an appointment.

  • Stay on track with prenatal care. During each prenatal appointment, the doctor evaluates the progress of the pregnancy, monitors the baby's growth and checks the mother’s weight, blood and urine. Prenatal appointments are also a good time for the mom-to-be to ask questions about pregnancy, childbirth and the growing baby.

  • Eat a well-balanced diet. During pregnancy, eating healthy is one of the best things a woman can do for her baby. Food eaten by the mom-to-be is the baby’s only source of nutrition and contributes to the baby’s growth and development. Pregnant women only need to eat an extra 300 calories a day. Make those calories count by choosing healthy snacks, including fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean protein, and low-fat dairy products.

  • Get regular physical activity. For most women, being active is recommended during pregnancy. This can help relieve stress, build stamina needed for labor and delivery, and may help prevent gestational diabetes. Walking is a great exercise because it is generally safe for everyone, is easy on the body and joints, doesn’t require extra equipment, and can be done almost anywhere. It is important for pregnant women to check with their doctor before starting any new exercise routine.

After Pregnancy (Postpartum Care)

Taking care of yourself after you’ve given birth is not only important for you, but your new baby as well. While your body went through many changes during pregnancy, it is also going through many changes now. Physically, you may be sore and achy, and your breasts are filling with milk. Emotionally, you might be happy that your baby is finally here, but exhausted and stressed. No matter how you feel, keep all of your postpartum checkups so your doctor can make sure you are recovering well from labor and birth.

One condition your provider is checking for is postpartum depression (PPD). PPD is a medical condition that many women get after having a baby. Symptoms include strong feelings of sadness, anxiety, worry, and tiredness that can last for a long time after giving birth. These feelings can make it hard for you to take care of yourself and your baby. PPD can happen any time after childbirth, but usually starts within 1 to 3 weeks of having a baby. PPD lasts longer and is more serious than the baby blues, which are feelings of sadness you may have after having a baby starting 2 to 3 days after you give birth and lasting up to 2 weeks. You may have trouble sleeping, be moody or cranky, and cry a lot. If you think you have PPD, make an appointment with your doctor right away, as it can be treated.

Visit www.tricare.mil/isitcovered for mental health care benefit details.

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