Prenatal care is medical care received during pregnancy. Having early and regular prenatal care improves the chances of a healthy pregnancy. Itnot only aims to keep expectant moms in the best health possible, but it also benefits the unborn baby and helps promote a healthy birth.
Pre-pregnancy and prenatal care are considered the most effective ways to help keep expectant mothers and their babies healthy, and they play an essential role in reducing the number of maternal deaths, miscarriages, birth defects, and health and birth complications.
During pregnancy, your obstetrician and/or midwife will provide comprehensive prenatal care thatis personalized according to individual circumstances. Factors such as age, health, lifestyle choices, and pregnancy history will determine the type of care you receive during your pregnancy.
What are the Benefits of Prenatal Care?
Regular and early prenatal care allows doctors to identify any health complications or concerns in the earliest stages, when treatment is typically most effective. According to the National Institute of Health (NIH), babies of mothers who do not get prenatal care are three times more likely to have a low birth weight and are five times more likely to not survive when compared to those born to mothers who do receive care.In many cases, early treatment can cure – or prevent – many health problems.
Regular prenatal care visits are also an effective way to promote a healthy pregnancy and birth, and to informexpectant mothers about important steps they can take to protect their baby and give them a positive start to life,such as by following a healthy diet and lifestyle, managing existing health conditions, and avoiding exposure to potentially harmful substances. Visits allow the opportunity to ask questions and seek advice around their pregnancy and birth.
Regular prenatal care helps to:
- Reduce the risk of pregnancy complications and promote fetal health and development
- Reduce the baby’s risk for complications during pregnancy and infancy
- Identify any concerns in their earliest stages
- Provide education and information to promote a healthy pregnancy, labor, and birth
Prenatal Care for Higher-Risk Pregnancies
Prenatal care is particularly beneficial for women who are at an increased risk of problems during pregnancy. Higher-risk pregnancies require regular obstetrical care, and depending on individual circumstances, may require specialist care. Higher-risk pregnancy includes:
- Advanced maternal age (over 35)
- Mothers with existing health problems, such as high blood pressure or diabetes
- Multiple pregnancy
- A history of pregnancy-related problems
- Pregnancy complications, such as fetal growth restrictions or an unusual placenta position
- Certain lifestyle choices, such as smoking, alcohol, or drug use/abuse during pregnancy
What Can I Expect at My Prenatal Visits?
The first prenatal visit is a good opportunity to ask questions and discuss any issues related to your pregnancy. You can also find out all you can about how to stay healthy during pregnancy. During the first visit, you can expect your healthcare provider to:
- Ask about your lifestyle, relationships, and health habits
- Ask about your health history, including diseases, surgeries,and previous pregnancies
- Ask about your family’s health history
- Do a physical exam, including a pelvic exam, cervical exam, and Pap smear
- Check your blood pressure, weight, and height
- Take a sample of your blood and urine for lab work
- Try to calculate your due date
- Answer all ofyour questions
After the first prenatal visit, future visits will often be shorter. Your health provider will check on your health and make sure the baby is growing and developing as expected. Future visits may involve:
- Routine checks, such as blood pressure, weight, and taking measurements of your abdomen to check the baby’s growth
- Checking yourbaby’s heart rate
- Screening tests (for mom and baby)
- Health promotion, such as nutritional support
- Treatment for common pregnancy-related ailments
- Treatment and support for pregnancy problems and complications
- Labor and delivery guidance, counseling, and support
Prenatal Tests to Prevent Complications
Regular prenatal visits, exams, and appropriate screening tests help ensure your baby is developing as expected and detect and manage any problems in their earliest stages. This means you and your baby can receive the necessary care and treatment to help avoid potential complications.
During pregnancy, you will need to have some routine tests. Some tests are suggested for all women, while other tests may be offered based on factors such as your age, ethnic background, personal or family health history, or the results of routine tests or scans you have had. Common prenatal tests include:
- Urine tests to check for signs of diabetes, infections, and preeclampsia
- Blood work to check your blood type and for anemia, HIV, and other factors
- Ultrasound exams to check for any fetal development problems
- Screening tests for things like gestational diabetes, chromosomal and neural tube defects, group B streptococcus,and other conditions
- Nonstress tests/biophysical profile teststo evaluate the health of the fetus
How Often Are Prenatal Visits?
The frequency of prenatal visits can vary, depending on your pregnancy and personalcircumstances. Typically, prenatal visits are scheduled:
- Once each month for weeks 4-28
- Every 2 weeks for weeks 28-36
- Weekly fromweek 36 through delivery
You can take care of yourself and your baby by getting early and regular prenatal care. If you know you’re pregnant, or think you might be, schedule a visit with your healthcare provider as soon as possible.
Prenatal Care Near Me in Decatur, Stonecrest, or Stone Mountain, GA
If you are pregnant and are looking for expert prenatal care, visit Dekalb Women’s Specialists Gynecological and Obstetrical Care. We provide comprehensive obstetrics care and midwifery services to ensure you receive the important care you need to keep you and your baby healthy.