Prenatal Care for a Healthy Baby

Congratulations on your pregnancy! Did you know that many things you do while you’re pregnant can affect your baby’s health? Do all you can to give your baby a good start in life. This includes:

  • Avoiding smoking, alcohol, and drugs. These harm you and your baby. If you use any of these, ask your health care provider for help to quit now.

  • Exercising several times a week. Exercise is good for you and your baby. Talk to your health care provider about ways to get exercise.

  • Eating the right foods. Eating well while you’re pregnant helps your baby grow and be healthy. It also helps you gain a healthy amount of weight during your pregnancy. Your health care provider can tell you more.

What Is Prenatal Care?

Pregnant woman lying on an exam table while a healthcare provider holds an ultrasound probe over the woman's abdomen. There is a man standing next to the woman.

Prenatal care is care during your pregnancy. It can include:

  • Checkups and tests to make sure you and your baby are doing OK.

  • Treatment for any health problems you have while you’re pregnant.

  • Help with eating healthier foods, getting enough exercise, or quitting smoking or drinking.

  • Learning about pregnancy and preparing for labor and birth.

Why You Need Prenatal Care

Prenatal care helps you have a healthy baby. It also helps you stay healthy during pregnancy. Prenatal care:

  • Reduces the risk of harm to you and your baby.

  • Helps you learn ways to feel better while you’re pregnant.

  • Gives you support and advice on taking care of yourself and your baby.

  • Can find certain problems that start during pregnancy (such as gestational diabetes or preeclampsia) so they can be treated.

Questions for Your Health Care Provider

Some questions to ask your health care provider include:

  • How often should I come in for prenatal care?

  • What changes should I make while I’m pregnant to keep my baby and me healthy?

  • What can I do to prepare for my baby’s birth?

To Learn More

The resources below can tell you more about staying healthy while pregnant.

American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists


Maternal and Child Health Bureau


National Women’s Health Information Center 


American Academy of Family Physicians

The National Partnership to Help Pregnant Smokers Quit 


National Organization on Fetal Alcohol Syndrome