- Prenatal care is the care you get from your doctor or midwife while you’re pregnant.
- Getting in early, and keeping all your appointments, can help ensure a healthy pregnancy.
- Prenatal care can catch problems with you or the baby before they become serious.
Prenatal care helps you take care of yourself and your baby. You have lots of choices in who takes care of you during your pregnancy. You can see an obstetrician/gynecologist (OB/GYN), a family practice doctor, a certified-nurse midwife or other health professional.
When should I have my first prenatal care visit?
Right away! As soon as you find out you are pregnant, or suspect you are pregnant, call your doctor and ask to get in as quickly as possible.
Is it important that I go to every appointment?
It is very important not to miss an appointment. Going to every prenatal care appointment helps you and your health provider see how your pregnancy is going. It also helps the provider to find any potential health problems before they become serious to you or the baby. Some pregnant women may experience complications like gestational diabetes or pre-eclampsia. But by going to your visits and working with your health provider, you’ll be better able to manage any health issues that may come up.
What happens at a prenatal visit?
During your visits, your provider will calculate your due date and check if there are any vaccinations you need. You’ll also get to experience the exciting moment of seeing your baby for the first time with an ultrasound. You can also expect to be weighed, have your blood pressure taken and have your stomach measured at every visit. These are all important ways for the health provider to make sure the pregnancy is going well and the baby is growing. Your provider may perform some of these prenatal tests to ensure baby is growing healthy. They will then discuss the results of the test and tell you what they mean. These tests may include:
- amniocentesis (test for certain birth defects)
- chorionic virus sampling or CVS (test for certain birth defects)
- glucose screening (monitor blood sugar)
- cystic fibrosis carrier screening (check for cystic fibrosis gene)
- maternal blood screening (check for neural tube defects)
What should I ask my doctor about?
If you have had a preterm baby in the past, let your doctor know right away. It is also important that you discuss any sexually transmitted infections, and chronic conditions (such as high blood pressure or diabetes), and habits such as smoking, drinking, or drug use. All of these factors can strongly increase the chances of preterm birth, and other poor birth outcomes – but your doctor can help you decrease your risk.