The Importance of Prenatal Care
Prenatal care is important from the day you get that positive test until the day that you deliver. Regular prenatal care can lead to healthier pregnancies which lead to full-term babies. A full-term baby is a baby who has been given the amount of time that he or she needs to develop in utero. State-of-the-art prenatal care in Memorial City at Memorial Women’s Specialists helps pregnant mothers keep track of their pregnancies, reducing complications and fetal mortality.
What to expect in your nine months of prenatal checkups
Prenatal care includes thing like:
- Nutritional advice to ensure proper weight gain
- Monitoring baby’s growth and development
- Exams and test to determine any potential complications
- It is also a time for you to discuss a discomfort that you may feel and ask your care provider questions regarding pregnancy and delivery.
Different providers can give prenatal care. OB/GYN, family practice, maternal-fetal medicine, a certified midwife, or a family nurse practitioner can all take care of you and your baby during pregnancy. Some pregnant women are referred to a doctor who has experience in high-risk pregnancies if she has any chronic health condition. She may also be referred if there is an increased risk of preterm labor if she is over 35 or if she is expecting more than one baby.
Some things to consider when choosing your prenatal care provider
- Is this provider covered by your insurance?
- Would you be more comfortable with a male or a female provider?
- Where is the office located, and do office hours fit your schedule?
- Who handles emergency phone calls after hours?
- Is the provider part of a group practice?
- Who in the group practice will deliver your baby?
- What hospital or nursing center does this provider use?
During the first few months of pregnancy, you will see your provider once a month; starting around the 28th week, you will begin twice a month visits. During the last few weeks, you will go in for a prenatal checkup once a week until the baby is born.
If you are experiencing any complications, your provider may want to see you more often. Your partner, a family member, or a friend are welcome to attend your prenatal checkups with you. Sometimes it is helpful to have another set of ears to listen and perhaps even take notes. It can be easy to miss information or instructions, and a support person can help you remember after you leave the office.
Your first prenatal appointment will probably take the longest because the provider will want to get your health history. The first appointment is in the first 6-8 weeks of pregnancy.
Each visit includes checking your weight and your blood pressure. A pregnant woman who begins pregnancy at a normal weight should gain between 25 and 35 pounds.
Starting around weeks 1-12, your provider will begin to listen to the baby’s heartbeat.
Once you hit the 20-week mark, your doctor will measure your belly to keep track of the baby’s growth. Later on, providers will often feel your body to check the baby’s position. Between the weeks of 18 and 20, most women get an ultrasound. If you want to know the baby’s gender, now is the time to find out. Sometimes providers will do another ultrasound later on in the pregnancy to check on the amniotic fluid. Once you begin to feel baby kicking, providers will ask you to be aware of how often you feel movements.
A glucose screening is done between 24 and 28 weeks to determine whether you have gestational diabetes. You will be given a thick sugary drink, and then an hour later, your doctor will test your blood sugar level. If you are diagnosed, your provider will have specific instructions about your diet and any medications that you may need.
To receive the best prenatal care, book an appointment at Memorial Women’s Specialists.