Prenatal care / Pregnancy care
Prenatal care is the health care you get during pregnancy. Take care of yourself and your baby by:
- Getting early prenatal care. If you know you’re pregnant, or think you might be, call to schedule a visit.
- Getting regular prenatal care. We will schedule you for many checkups over the course of your pregnancy. Don’t miss any — they are all important.
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Ensure the best health of your baby and yourself.
I will need to know all about you in order to give you and your baby the best care possible! Do not feel afraid or embarrassed to talk about personal things. I will ask lots of questions about you, your partner and your families. Your medical information and anything you tell me is confidential, which means I can not share this information with anyone without your permission.
So don’t be afraid to tell me about things that may be uncomfortable or embarrassing, like if your partner hurts or scares you or if you smoke, drink alcohol, use street drugs or abuse prescription drugs.
Follow a schedule
Most pregnant women can follow a schedule like this:
- Weeks 4 to 28 of pregnancy. Go for a checkup every 4 weeks.
- Weeks 28 to 36 of pregnancy. Go for a checkup every 2 weeks.
- Weeks 36 to 41 of pregnancy. Go for a checkup every week.
If you have complications during pregnancy, I may see you more often.
Your partner or support person (a friend or someone from your family) is welcome at your prenatal checkups.
Prenatal care helps decrease risks during pregnancy and increases the chance of a safe and healthy delivery. Regular prenatal visits can help your doctor monitor your pregnancy and identify any problems or complications before they become serious.
Be ready to talk with your provider about
- The first day of your last menstrual period (also called LMP). This is used to find out your baby’s due date.
- Health conditions you have, like depression, diabetes, high blood pressure, and not being at a healthy weight. Conditions like these can cause problems during pregnancy.
- Family health history. This is a record of any health conditions and treatments that you, your partner and everyone in your families have had.
- Medicines you take, including prescription medicine, over-the-counter medicine, supplements and herbal products. Some medicines can hurt your baby if you take them during pregnancy, so you may need to stop taking it or switch to another medicine. Don’t stop or start taking any medicine without talking to your provider first. And tell your provider if you’re allergic to any medicine. You may be allergic to a medicine if it makes you sneeze, itch, get a rash or have trouble breathing when you take it.
- Your pregnancy history. If you have been pregnant before or had trouble getting pregnant, including if you’ve had any pregnancy complications or a premature baby (a baby born before 37 weeks of pregnancy), a miscarriage or stillbirth. Miscarriage is when a baby dies in the womb before 20 weeks of pregnancy. Stillbirth is when a baby dies in the womb after 20 weeks of pregnancy.
- Smoking, drinking alcohol, using street or abusing prescription drugs. All of these can hurt your baby.
- If you have too much Stress. Stress is worry, strain or pressure that you feel in response to things that happen in your life. We can discuss ways to deal with and reduce your stress. High levels of stress can cause complications during pregnancy.
- Your safety at home and work. Tell us about chemicals you use at home or work and about what kind of job you have. If you’re worried about abuse during pregnancy and ask about ways you can stay healthy and safe at home and work.
What happens at your prenatal care checkups?
- Gives you a physical exam and check your overall health. Checks your weight and height tofigure out how much weight you should gain during pregnancy.
- Checks your blood, blood pressure and urine. Blood tests can tell me if you have certain infections, like syphilis, hepatitis B and HIV. The blood tests also tells us your blood type and Rh factor and to check for anemia
– Anemia is when you don’t have enough healthy red blood cells to carry oxygen to the rest of your body.
– Rh factor is a protein that most people have on their red blood cells. If you don’t have it and your baby does, it can cause Rh disease in your baby. Treatment during pregnancy can prevent Rh disease.
– Blood pressure and urine tests can help diagnose a serious condition called preeclampsia. This is a kind of high blood pressure that can happen during pregnancy. Having too much protein in your urine may be a sign of preeclampsia.
– Urine tests also can tell if you have a kidney or bladder infection or other conditions, like diabetes.
- Gives you a pelvic exam and a Pap smear.
– I will check the pelvic organs (uterus and ovaries) to make sure they’re healthy.
– For the Pap smear, I will collects cells from your cervix to check for cancer and for infections, like chlamydia and gonorrhea.
- May give you vaccinations, like a flu shot.
– It’s safe to get a flu shot any time during pregnancy. But some vaccinations are best at certain times and some aren’t recommended during pregnancy.
- Tells you your due date.
– We use your LMP (first day of your last menstrual period) to figure out your due date.
– But you may get an early ultrasound to confirm that you’re pregnant and help your provider figure out your baby’s age. An ultrasound uses sound waves and a computer screen to show a picture of your baby inside the womb.
- Prescribes a prenatal vitamin.
This is a multivitamin made for pregnant women. Your prenatal vitamin should have 600 micrograms of folic acid in it. Folic acid is a vitamin that every cell in your body needs for healthy growth and development. If you take it before pregnancy and during early pregnancy, it can help protect your baby from birth defects of the brain and spine called neural tube defects (also called NTDs), and birth defects of the mouth called cleft lip and palate.
- Talks to you about prenatal tests.
These are medical tests you get during pregnancy. They help find out how you and your baby are doing. You may want to have certain tests only if you have certain problems or if you’re at high risk of having a baby with a genetic or chromosomalcondition, like Down syndrome. If you are at risk for having a baby with one of these conditions, I may recommend that you see a genetic counselor. This person has training to help you understand about genes, birth defects and other medical conditions that run in families, and how they can affect your health and your baby’s health.
What happens at later prenatal care checkups?
Later prenatal care checkups usually are shorter than the first one.
At your checkups, you will tell us how you’re feeling. There’s a lot going on inside your body during pregnancy and we can help you understand what’s happening and help you feel better if you’re not feeling well. Between visits, write down questions you have and ask them at your next checkup.
At later prenatal care checkups we will:
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Check your weight and blood pressure. You also may get urine and blood tests.
This happens after about 10 to 12 weeks of pregnancy. You can listen, too!
Measure your belly to check your baby’s growth, starting at about 20 weeks of pregnancy
Later in pregnancy, she also feels your belly to check your baby’s position in the womb
Give you certain prenatal tests to check you and your baby.
– For example, most women get an ultrasound at 18 to 20 weeks of pregnancy you will beable to tell if your baby’s a boy or a girl from this ultrasound, so be sure to tell your provider if you don’t want to know!
Later in pregnancy, we may use ultrasound to check the amount of amniotic fluid around your baby
Between 24 and 28 weeks, you get a glucose screening test to see if you may have gestational diabetes (diabetes during pregnancy)
At 35 to 37 weeks, you get a test to check for group B strep. This is an infection you can pass to your baby
Ask you about your baby’s movement in the womb. If it’s your first pregnancy, you may feel your baby move by about 20 weeks. If you’ve been pregnant before, you may feel your baby move sooner. We will ask you to do kick counts to keep track of how often your baby moves.
Give you a Tdap vaccination at 27 to 36 weeks of pregnancy. This vaccination protects both you and your baby against pertussis (whooping cough). Pertussis spreads easily and is dangerous for a baby.
Do a pelvic exam. Your provider may check for changes in your cervix as you get close to your due date.