Prenatal Care: Tips, Tests, & Techniques to a Healthy Pregnancy

Covington, LA Pregnant Woman - Covington, LA - Jill Gibson, MD

The health of your future baby is directly related to how well you take care of yourself during pregnancy. Here, we have listed a variety of tips for your prenatal health as you go through this beautiful chapter of your life. For more personalized tips, seek the advice of an obstetrician. Mandeville, LA women are welcome to call to schedule an appointment with the clinic of Jill Gibson, MD, an experienced, female OB/GYN trained in the latest procedures and birthing techniques.

Although each pregnancy is entirely unique, every woman undergoes a number of changes common to every pregnancy. By understanding the physical and emotional changes that occur, you can feel confident throughout the duration of your pregnancy.

Before Conception

  • If you are capable of becoming pregnant and are having sex, it is advisable to take 0.4 mg of folic acid each day in case you become pregnant, even if you’re not planning on it.
  • It is important to maintain a healthy diet even before conception. Doing this will make for a smoother, healthier pregnancy for both you and your baby.

Prenatal Testing

Covington, LAUltrasound - Covington, LA - Jill Gibson, MD

A variety of prenatal tests are available and, while not everyone will need all of them, it’s useful to know what is available.

  • Home pregnancy tests are widely available and provide quick, accurate results, as early as eight days after conception or one day after a missed period.
  • Alpha-Fetoprotein Test: This determines whether there is a high-risk for certain birth defects such as Down syndrome or spina bifida (open spine).
  • Non-Stress Tests: These evaluate the health of the placenta, determining whether or not the fetus is receiving the proper oxygen and nutrient levels.
  • Quad Screen Test: This is a blood test that measures alpha-fetoprotein, chorionic gonadotropin, unconjugated estriol, and inhibin A. Performed between weeks 15 and 19, this test can provide information on the prenatal health of the fetus.
  • Ultrasound: This provides an image of the fetus and reproductive organs, which allows your obstetrician to determine the approximate delivery date.
  • Amniocentesis: This is a test performed during the second trimester to rule out a wide variety of birth defects.


As in all areas of life, a well-balanced diet is essential. It is important, however, to be aware of the health risks associated with a number of otherwise healthy foods. Fish, for example, contain high levels of mercury, and healthcare officials are concerned that it may have negative effects on pregnancy. Likewise, deli meats and unpasteurized cheeses have a risk of carrying Listeria and should be avoided while pregnant.

The best information on general prenatal health is always best obtained by speaking face-to-face with an obstetrician. Mandeville, LA residents would be well advised to visit Jill Gibson, MD, based in Covington, LA. We’re also happy to help women from St. Tammany Parish, Hammond, and Franklinton! For more information on prenatal health, specific food restrictions, and prenatal tests, please contact us today!