The Importance of Prenatal Visits
Pregnancy is a beautiful time in a woman’s life, but it can also bring on a flood of conflicting emotions, from excitement to fear and more. One way to ensure the best pregnancy care from the start is by scheduling prenatal care checkups as soon as you know you’re pregnant.
Pregnancy is a beautiful time in a woman’s life, but it can also bring on a flood of conflicting emotions, from excitement to fear and more. Whether you’re expecting your first child or fourth, it’s necessary to ensure that you and your unborn baby are healthy throughout the pregnancy. One way to ensure the best pregnancy care from the start is by scheduling prenatal care checkups as soon as you know you’re pregnant.
What Is Prenatal Care?
Prenatal care is medical checkups and screening tests you get during pregnancy. It also involves education and counseling on how to take care of your pregnancy. Your obstetrician may discuss many issues during your visits, such as lifestyle advice, healthy eating, and medical examination.
Why Is It Important To Regularly Have A Prenatal Checkup?
It’s highly beneficial for expectant mothers to take care of themselves and their babies during pregnancy. Below are the advantages for seeking timely pregnancy care:
#1. Early detection of potential health concerns: The health of both the mother and the child can be at risk due to pregnancy-related diseases, such as eclampsia and pre-eclampsia. Regular visits to your obstetrician can help catch such potential problems early and recommend proper treatment.
#2. Nutrition meal plans: A woman’s diet plays a significant role in pregnancy. You may need to adjust your diet to fit the nutritional requirements of your unborn child. So, before you begin the precious nine months journey, check your diet with your doctor first.
#3. Growth Monitoring: During the antenatal visits, the growth of the baby will be monitored and recorded. That can help catch issues like fetal arrhythmia and recommend the appropriate treatment.
#4.Peace of mind: The health of your mind and spirit is as important as your physical wellbeing. Prenatal care offers you peace of mind by addressing all your concerns through monthly prenatal appointments.
#5. Prepare for delivery of the baby: The most critical discussion during the prenatal visits is the plan on labor and delivery. You’ll be taken through the options available such as vaginal delivery or C-section. This plan will be influenced by the general findings identified during the prenatal visits.
What Are The Things To Expect On Your First Visit?
As soon as your pregnancy is confirmed or you suspect you're pregnant, it's critical to schedule your first prenatal appointment. During the visit, your obstetrician will check your overall health and determine your due date. Typically, you should expect the following:
The doctor will first do a urine or blood test to verify your pregnancy.
This will include your general health such as blood pressure, heart, lungs, weight, breast, and pelvic. The doctor may also check your vagina and cervix.
Your physician might ask about the following:
- Your personal and family medical history
- Your menstrual cycle and any past pregnancies
- Whether you've been exposed to potentially toxic substances
- Your lifestyle, including your use of alcohol, tobacco, and caffeine
- If you've been under any medication
- Whether you've been to areas where the Zika virus, malaria, tuberculosis, or other infectious diseases are common
Your doctor will draw blood to:
- Test your blood type and Rh status
- Check for blood disorders such as anemia and hemophilia
- Test for immunity
- Test for HIV, syphilis, and hepatitis B
- Screen for diseases like diabetes, mump, measles, rubella, thyroid dysfunction, cystic fibrosis carrier status, etc.
Your urine will be tested for:
- Sugar and protein levels
- Kidney problems, and
- Bladder infection
Your obstetrician will want to know the start and end date of your last period to determine when your baby is due. However, you should know that the due date is not an estimation of when you'll deliver. It's the date that you'll be 40 weeks pregnant. The estimated delivery date allows your physician to monitor your baby's growth, the progress of your pregnancy and schedule procedures or tests at the appropriate times.
Essential Tip: In case you have any questions about the tests or examinations, feel free to ask your doctor. Also feel free to discuss sensitive issues, such as past drug abuse, domestic violence, or abortion. That will help your doctor take the best care of you and your unborn child.
What to Expect In Future Visits
After your first prenatal visit, your doctor will probably want to see you more often. S/he may schedule your prenatal visits as follows:
- 1 prenatal visit a month until the 28th week of pregnancy
- 1 prenatal visit every 2 weeks, from 28th week to 36th week of pregnancy
- 1 prenatal visit every week, from 36th week to 40th week of pregnancy
Besides these checkups, your doctor may suggest regular screening tests to ensure the normal development of the baby. The screening is usually a combination of fetal sonogram/ultrasound and maternal blood testing. You may be required to take an ultrasound in the second trimester, between weeks 18 and 36 of pregnancy.
Besides screening, you'll be advised to take multivitamins that contain iron and folate to ensure you're receiving sufficient nutrients in your diet. If you have any questions, be sure to write them down and ask your obstetrician about your concerns for your next visit.
What Options Do Expecting Moms Have Since The Quarantines Started?
Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, lockdowns, cessation of movements, and World Health Organization (WHO) directives have crippled the health care services. In particular, it has been stressful and overwhelming for many mums-to-be to go for prenatal visits while taking precautions, such as staying at home and observing social distancing.
However, to help pregnant women navigate this time, specific measures have been put in place to curb the spread of the coronavirus. Most healthcare facilities have now adopted virtual care services to deliver more care remotely. Through your computer, smartphone, or tablet's camera, you can videoconference with your physician to schedule your prenatal checkup appointments. Most of your appointments will be virtual, but you'll also have in-person meetings with your doctor when you need them.
The advantages of prenatal care for you and your unborn child are enormous. Besides the overall health benefits and improved birth outcomes, your monthly prenatal visits are also a great time to learn how to ease any discomfort you may be having and ask questions about your pregnancy.
Meet Our KeaMommy Contributor: Sara Gale
Sara loves traveling and exploring new places with her family. She is mom to 2 lovely children and loves bringing them out on adventures.