Pregnant women need proper care and access to healthcare facilities. And that’s where prenatal care comes into the picture.
So, what is prenatal care? Health care given to pregnant women during the course of pregnancy is called prenatal care.
Why do you need prenatal care?
Prenatal care is crucial to spot any problems that may arise in the later stages of your pregnancy. Plus, it also reduces risks associated with low birth weight babies and chances of miscarriages.
The doctor can diagnose the problems, and you may get the required treatment before it’s too late. The best part? You can ask your doctor whatever questions you might have regarding your pregnancy.
When should you start prenatal care?
See your doctor as soon as you know that you’re pregnant. And while your doctor will prepare your appointment schedule, here are some recommendations as to how frequently you should visit your doctor:
- Once every month from Week 4 to Week 28 of your pregnancy
- Twice a month from Week 28 to Week 36
- Weekly visits from Week 36 until delivery
Some may even plan to visit a doctor before getting pregnant, called a preconception checkup, to diagnose any signs of danger. But if that is not possible, you can start with the checkups once you know about your pregnancy.
If you’re planning to get pregnant, here’s a guide to the pre-pregnancy diet you can follow.
What happens during prenatal visits?
A prenatal visit may include a couple of examinations and investigations. Your first prenatal visit may include the following:
- A brief about your family’s health history
- Your health history (previous pregnancies, diseases, etc.)
- Blood and urine samples for further investigations
- Pelvic exam and Pap test
- Checking your blood pressure, height and weight
- Calculating your due date
You can even ask your doctor questions about your pregnancy and how you can better manage it to ensure your baby is healthy.
During the prenatal visits that follow after the first one, you can expect the following things:
- Weight analysis (as to how much you’ve gained)
- Checking your blood pressure
- Evaluating baby’s growth (by measuring your abdomen or belly)
- Checking baby’s heart rate
- Routine tests (these may include tests for anemia, HIV, diabetes, hepatitis B, etc.)
Prenatal care is of utmost importance if you’re planning for a healthy pregnancy. While some may plan to start it before conceiving, know that it’s best once you know that you’re pregnant. You can even get prenatal care from a nurse or a midwife if you wish to.