Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Women's Health - Pregnancy Care

Pregnancy care consists of prenatal (before birth) and postpartum (after birth) healthcare. 

It usually consists of regular prenatal visits to monitor the wellbeing of the mother and baby as the both of them go through the journey to birth and identify any complications before they become serious.

Some doctors also have a provision for clinics after office hours at no extra charge to facilitate visits by the working mother.

Pregnancy Care and supplements? 

"It will be beneficial to take folate three months prior to conception. This reduces the occurrence of neural tube defects like spina bifida significantly. Some women may also want to take calcium and DHA as part of their supplementation." says OB-GYN Dr. Vijayavel, at KPJ Klang Specialist Hospital in Klang, Selangor.

Neural tube defects develop in the first 28 days after conception, before many women know they are pregnant. Spina bifida is a type of neural tube defect (NTD) that affects the spine, or spinal cord. With this condition, the neural tube does not close completely.  

Myelomeningocele is the most serious type of spina bifida-a sac of fluid with part of the spinal cord comes through an opening in the baby’s spine damaging the nerves. Neural tube defects happen in the first month of pregnancy, often before a woman even knows that she is pregnant. (

"The three most widely prescribed nutrients, are folic acid, iron and calcium," says Dr Vijayavel.

Folic acid is a water-soluble B vitamin. Folic acid helps prevent neural-tube defects; iron is important for the delivery of oxygen to the baby and prevents anemia in the mom; and calcium helps build your baby's bones and prevents bone loss in the mother.

It is recommended pregnant mothers shall take a 400 microgram folic acid tablet every day while trying to get pregnant until the twelfth week of pregnancy.

If you didn't take folic acid before you conceived, you should start as soon as you find out that you are pregnant.

Your diet shall contain folate (the natural form of folic acid), such as green leafy vegetables and brown rice. Foods that are naturally high in folic acid include leafy vegetables, fruits (such as bananas, melons, and lemons) beans, yeast, mushrooms, meat (such as beef), orange juice, and tomato juice.

It is difficult to get the amount of folate recommended for pregnancy from food alone, which is why it is important to take a folic acid supplement.

Your health care professional will prescribe a daily prenatal vitamin and or other vitamin and mineral supplements to help meet your additional needs.

Spina bifida?


The name spina bifida means split or divided spine and is used to describe a neural tube defect that affects the spine. If the neural tube fails to close in an area that goes on to develop into the spine the protective bones surrounding the spinal cord (vertebra) are unable to fuse together properly. As a result the spinal cord and its protective sac (meninges) may be pushed through the open part of the spine.

The symptoms associated with spina bifida vary depending on where in the spine the opening has occurred and how much of the spinal cord and/or protective sac are pushed through this opening. Generally the condition is more severe if the opening is above the base of the spine and if the spinal cord is pushed through the opening.

There are three different types of spina bifida which are defined according to the location and severity of the abnormality: 

Occulta is the mildest form and refers to when the outer vertebrae are not completely joined but the spinal cord and protective covering are unaffected. The only visible sign maybe a dimple, tuft of hair or small swelling at the site of the abnormality. There are usually no problems associated with this form of spina bifida. 

Meningocele is when the outer parts of the vertebrae fail to fuse and a cyst or fluid filled sac is pushed through the divide in the vertebrae. The sac contains the membranes that protect the spinal cord but no spinal nerves. The spinal cord itself is normal and not affected. The defect can be surgically closed after birth. 

Myelomeningocele is severest form of spina bifida. In these cases both the spinal cord and the protective covering are pushed through the opening in the vertebrae. Affected babies will have some degree of leg paralysis, after surgery, as well as bowel, bladder and other complications.  

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