What is Prenatal Care?
Prenatal care is the care for a woman’s heath during pregnancy. Take care of yourself and your baby.
- Early Prenatal Care. If you know that you are pregnant or believe that you may be, contact your doctor and plan an appointment.
- Regular Prenatal Care. Your doctor will draw up a schedule for your appointments during your pregnancy. Try not do miss any of them – all of them are important.
- Follow your doctor’s advice.
How often do I have to visit my doctor during pregnancy?
Your doctor will draw up a schedule of all of your appointments. Most experts recommend that you visit your doctor:
- Once a month – 4-28 gestational week;
- Twice a month – 28-36 gestational week;
- Every week – after the 36th gestational week up to pregnancy.
If you are of 35 years of age or older or your pregnancy is a high-risk one, you will most probably have to meet your doctor more often.
What happens during my prenatal consultations?
During your first visit, you can expect your doctor to:
- Ask you about your medical history, including prior diseases, surgeries, or pregnancies;
- Ask about your family’s medical history;
- Perform a complete physical check-up, including a PAP test;
- Suggest a blood and urine examination;
- Check your blood pressure, weight, and height;
- Calculate the date when you are due;
- Answer your questions.
Already at your first visit, you can ask questions and discusses everything that concerns you with your pregnancy.
Your next prenatal visits will be most probably shorter. Your doctor will continue checking your medical condition and will make sure your baby is developing as expected. Most of your prenatal will entail:
- Controlling your blood pressure;
- Measuring and cross-checking your weight;
- Measuring the radius of your circumference of your abdomen to control your baby’s development;
- Checking your baby’s heart rate.
Some routine tests will also be carried out during your pregnancy. Some of them are offered to all patients, such as blood tests (in order to control a possible anemia, blood type inconsistencies, HIV, and other factors). Others tests could be offered to you based on your age, personal or family medical history, ethnicity, or based on the results of other tests.
- Screening during the first trimester: it is usually carried out during the 11-14 gestational weeks. It includes a full blood and ultrasound examination. The blood test detects certain substances in the mother’s blood, while the ultrasound detects the thickness of the baby’s neck and back, in order to achieve an early diagnosis for defects, such as Down syndrome.
- Chorionic villus sampling (CVS): it is performed during the 10-13 gestational weeks with the help of a thin needle that separates cells from the placenta for analysis. This test can help diagnose various chromosomal anomalies.
- Amniocentesis: it is performed during the 14-20 gestational weeks. The technique uses a thin needle that aspirates amniotic fluid for lab analysis. This test can help diagnose defects such as: spina bifida, cystic fibrosis, or Down syndrome.
- Biophysical profile: this test is performed during the third trimester to examine the overall condition of the baby. It includes: a medical and an ultrasound examination and a non-stress test: breathing, movements, muscular tonus, heartbeat, and amniotic fluid.
- Glucose levels – examined during the 26-28 gestational weeks. This test helps with the risk evaluation of the development of gestational diabetes. Based on the test results, your doctor can suggest a glucose tolerance test.
- Glucose tolerance test: it is carried out during the 26-28 gestational weeks and used for identifying gestational diabetes. Your specialist will suggest a diet for a couple of days. You should not consume any food for 14 hours before your test, but you may drink water. The test involves you consuming liquid that contains glucose and a blood test every hour for three hours, in order to examine the way your organism digests glucose.
- Non-stress test: after the 28th gestational week. It helps with the diagnosis of oxygen insufficiency in your fetus’s blood. Your baby’s heart rate will be measured with the help of a leather belt, placed around your abdomen, and correlated with its movements.
- Beta streptococci test: done during the 36-37 gestational week. Material will be collected from your vagina and rectum with the help of a cotton tampon for laboratory analysis.