Choosing a good OB/GYN and getting proper prenatal care throughout pregnancy is so important.
Proper prenatal care can reduce the risk of dangers to the mother and the baby. For example, with ongoing prenatal care, the risk of a birth injury is reduced. A birth injury is something that occurs during labor and delivery that is the result of negligence on the part of the doctor.
The following are some of the things to know about prenatal care and how important it is.
What is Prenatal Care?
When you have a healthy pregnancy, you are more likely to have a healthy birth.
If you are pregnant or suspect you are, you should schedule a visit to your health care provider to begin what is called your prenatal care.
Prenatal care visits usually include weight checks, physical exams, and the provision of urine samples.
Other tests may be done throughout your pregnancy at certain times as well.
For example, your prenatal care provider will do blood and imaging tests, such as ultrasounds.
You can ask any questions you have or share your concerns as well.
If you are pregnant or think you are, and you don’t already have an OB/GYN, you can contact your health insurance provider to find out who is covered. You can also contact your county health department if you don’t have insurance.
Usually, you are scheduled for your first prenatal appointment when you are at least eight weeks pregnant.
Then, up to week 28, you will have one prenatal visit a month. From weeks 28 to 36, you will have one visit every two weeks. From weeks 36 to 40, you will have one visit a week.
If you have any pre-existing health conditions or you are high-risk, then your doctor may want to see you more often.
Reduce the Risk of Pregnancy Complications
One of the reasons prenatal care is so important is because it can reduce the risk of pregnancy complications.
There are lifestyle choices you can make that will help this as well, such as getting safe amounts of exercise and following a healthy diet.
If you have existing conditions, such as diabetes or high blood pressure, it’s very important to keep them under control during your pregnancy to reduce the risk of complications. This is something your OB/GYN can work with you on.
Good nutrition is so important during your pregnancy, and your doctor can provide you with information and counseling during your visits.
You may need to make changes in your diet to meet your new nutritional needs and those of your developing baby.
Many women aren’t sure how much more they should be eating during pregnancy, and their doctor can help them in this area as well. For example, when you’re pregnant, you only need around 350 additional calories a day. Many times we think we need much more.
Your doctor will also go over things like prenatal vitamins with you. Prenatal vitamins need to include folic acid to reduce the risk of neural tube defects.
A big focus of prenatal appointments is tracking the development of your baby. Your baby’s growth tells a lot about how he or she is doing. Your doctor will measure your belly, and there will be a few ultrasounds to verify development as well as gender.
There are various tests you’ll do throughout your pregnancy. For example, there is amniocentesis which is a second-trimester test. This test is used to look for genetic abnormalities.
Preparing for Labor and Delivery
During your later prenatal visits, you will start learning about and preparing for labor and delivery. You can talk to your doctor about how you’d like it to go, and you can also talk about what your contingency plans are.
Your doctor will talk to you about options you may have, such as epidurals, and you can go over the risks and benefits of all the possible treatments and interventions.
When you’re selecting a prenatal care provider, along with working with an OB/GYN, there are a few other options.
There is a maternal-fetal medicine specialist, for example. This is an OB who has specialized training in high-risk pregnancies. There is also a certified nurse-midwife who is a nurse with training to care for women, including pregnant women.
A family nurse practitioner may be able to provide care during pregnancy also.
What’s most important is first finding a care provider you are comfortable with, and second, going to each of your scheduled appointments.