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Fact Sheet - Prenatal Care

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  • According to the Tennessee Department of Health, in 2000, Tennessee residents gave birth to 30 babies born with spina bifida and anencephaly, the most common forms of neural tube defects. Many other pregnancies affected by neural tube defects end in miscarriage or stillbirth.
  • Neural tube defects occur during the 1st month of pregnancy, before most women know they are pregnant.
  • Cigarette smoking during pregnancy can result in low birth weight babies.
  • Pregnant women should drink extra fluids (water is best) throughout pregnancy to help their body keep up with the normal increases in blood volume. A pregnant woman is likely drinking enough fluid if her urine appears almost clear or very light yellow.
  • In general, the following daily diet is recommended for pregnant women: 6-11 servings of grain products, 3-5 servings of vegetables, 2-4 servings of fruits, 4-6 servings of milk and milk products, 3-4 servings of meat and/or protein foods.
  • Physical activity during pregnancy can benefit both mother and her embryo/fetus by lessening discomfort and fatigue, providing a sense of well-being, and increasing the likelihood of early recovery after delivery.
  • A pregnant woman should rest on her side as often as possible, especially on her left side, as it provides the best circulation to her embryo/fetus and helps reduce swelling.
  • In 2002, 83% of pregnant women received prenatal care during their first trimester, while 3.6% of women received late (last trimester) or no prenatal care.
  • There is no safe amount of alcohol a woman can drink while pregnant. Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS), a disorder characterized by growth retardation, facial abnormalities, and central nervous system dysfunction, is caused by a woman's use of alcohol during pregnancy.
  • Caffeine, a legal drug found in tea, coffee, soft drinks and chocolate, should be limited during pregnancy. Women need to read labels when trying to cut down on caffeine during pregnancy. More than 200 foods, beverages, and over-the-counter medications contain caffeine.


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