Whether you are a first-time mom or expecting another child, discovering you are pregnant is an exciting event in your life.
The key to a healthy pregnancy, however, is seeking prenatal care. That’s because prenatal care helps to identify any potential concerns early, reducing the risks of pregnancy and birth complications.
Prenatal care appointments are just the start of ensuring a healthy pregnancy. When you follow up with regular obstetrical care thereafter, you are all but guaranteeing the health of your baby and preparing for a safe and less stressful delivery.
Here’s why it is important to schedule regular prenatal care appointments.
Why Prenatal Care Is A Must
Prenatal care appointments provide you with the vital information you need about changes in your body that could put both the baby’s and your own health at risk. It is especially important if yours is a high-risk pregnancy – one that poses a greater chance of complications.
Factors that may increase the risk of problems during your pregnancy include:
- Being younger than 18 or over the age of 35
- Being overweight or underweight
- Having a history of problems during previous pregnancies
- Being pregnant with twins, triplets, or multiple fetuses
- Having current or past health problems, such as hypertension (high blood pressure), diabetes, cancer, HIV, or an autoimmune disorder
If you fall into any of these categories, you will need to see your doctor more often to help prevent any further complications during your pregnancy and labor.
As soon as you think you may be pregnant, you should arrange an appointment with your obstetrician–gynecologist (OB/GYN). Or, if you don’t have an OB/GYN, call your health insurance provider to find one that is covered by your insurance. If you do not have health insurance coverage, you can contact your local community health center or county health department to explore your options.
You should schedule your first prenatal appointment when you’re at least eight weeks pregnant, then visit your OB/GYN once a month up to 28 weeks of pregnancy. From weeks 28 to 36 of your pregnancy, you should schedule a prenatal visit every two weeks, then once a week from weeks 36 to 40.
During your first prenatal visit, your doctor will review your medical history and likely perform a complete physical examination and both urine and blood tests. At every visit thereafter, your doctor will check on you and your baby and tell you how to stay healthy during your pregnancy – for example, what foods to eat, what activities you should and should not perform, and how to gain the right amount of weight. Your doctor may also order an ultrasound to track your baby’s development.
Each of these prenatal appointments is important to maintaining a healthy pregnancy. In fact, researchers have found that the babies of mothers who skip prenatal care are three times more likely to have a low birth weight and complications.
Prenatal Care Near You in Lithonia, Decatur, and Stone Mountain, Georgia
At DeKalb Women’s Specialists, our team of board-certified and experienced physicians provides comprehensive gynecology services and support for every stage of your life, including:
- Well-woman visits
- Standard screenings, such as Pap smears and breast exams
- STI testing
- Birth control
- Infertility evaluation
- Pregnancy care
- Menopause support
If you are looking for the highest quality gynecological and obstetrical healthcare beyond your regular annual visit, call DeKalb Women’s Specialists today to set up a consultation at our nearest location to you, or use our convenient online tool to schedule your appointment.