When you first get pregnant, your thoughts center around the joys of having a child. Before too long, you will be thinking about how to ensure that you have a healthy pregnancy and a happy baby at the end of nine months. That’s the goal of prenatal care. This blog will help you understand why prenatal care is so important, what it consists of, and how Advanced Obstetrics & Gynecology of Lake County, LLC., can help you meet these goals.

What Is Prenatal Care?

Prenatal care is a series of medical checkups designed to keep you and your baby healthy and safe. During every visit, your healthcare provider will check on you and the baby, give advice, talk about nutrition, and how you’re feeling. 

Every prenatal visit matters, so make sure you don’t skip a single visit, even if you’re feeling great. Consistent pregnancy checks throughout the nine months can lead to better health outcomes for you and your baby. It is recommended that a woman receive routine prenatal checkups:

  • Once monthly during weeks four through 28 of your pregnancy
  • Twice a month for weeks 28 through 36
  • Every week during weeks 36 to birth

If you’re experiencing a high-risk pregnancy, you’ll need to see the doctor more frequently.

You can receive prenatal care from several different types of medical providers, including:

  • An obstetrician/gynecologist (OB/GYN) doctor trained in taking care of pregnant women and to deliver babies
  • A family practice or primary care doctor who is a generalist capable of taking care of both you and the baby
  • A maternal-fetal medicine specialist (MFM), an obstetrician trained in caring for women with high-risk pregnancies
  • A certified nurse midwife (CNM) who is trained in taking care of pregnant women
  • A family nurse practitioner (FNP) or a women’s health nurse practitioner (WHNP) who specializes in families and women during pregnancy 

What Are the Benefits of Prenatal Care?

Ultimately, the biggest benefit of prenatal care is a healthy mom and baby. However, there are five key benefits for regular prenatal care that you may not consider:

  1. Your health. Having a baby is hard work. Women often have lots of questions, and your body will depend on prenatal care during the rigorous and demanding process. Your prenatal visits can help with everything from overcoming morning sickness to handling your fears about labor and delivery.
  2. Nutrition guidance. Your doctor will provide complete nutrition information throughout your pregnancy to help feed both you and the baby safely. Contrary to the popular saying, “I’m eating for two now,” you want to gain just the right amount of weight. Too much or too little weight gain can be an issue. Prenatal care can help you stay on track.
  3. Preventative care. Your doctor will also carefully monitor the baby’s development and growth and remain alert to any issues during the pregnancy. In this way prenatal care is preventative and designed to catch small problems early to improve health outcomes for you and the infant.
  4. Genetic testing. Your doctor will conduct a series of medical tests to ensure the baby doesn’t have a genetic disorder passed down from your family history. As scary as this may sound, knowing about a genetic disorder allows doctors and your family to make decisions and get necessary treatment.
  5. Preparation for birth. You will learn about and work towards labor and delivery. First-time pregnancies can be scary. Women have all kinds of questions about the process and what happens during delivery and afterwards. Prenatal care helps put your mind at ease as you get ready for the big event. 

All of these benefits ultimately help pregnant women gradually gain confidence as they approach their due date. Having a baby requires extensive preparation for your mind and body to get ready for the ultimate physical activity: delivering a healthy, beautiful infant. Prenatal care is designed to get you and your baby into the best shape possible to achieve the desired goal.

What Happens During a Prenatal Care Visit?pregnant woman being prepped by nurse at prenatal care visit

Each prenatal care visit is a little different, depending on how far along you are in the pregnancy. The physical exam may vary slightly along with the tests that your doctors conduct.

The typical first prenatal care visit includes a full history and medical exam. This will include your blood pressure and weight. Your blood will be taken for lab tests. Typically, you’ll have a breast and pelvic exam, including a pap test. The doctor will measure your abdomen to check the baby’s growth and listen to the baby’s heartbeat as you get further along in the pregnancy.

The prenatal care visits will also include some routine testing to check for infections or disorders such as gestational diabetes or anemia. Depending on your age, personal health history, and ethnic background, other types of testing may be necessary. Some typical tests include:

  • Glucose challenge screening and the glucose tolerance test to determine your risk of gestational diabetes
  • Group B streptococcus infection testing to look for the bacteria that can cause serious pneumonia or infection in your newborn
  • Ultrasound testing to look for signs of problems with the baby’s physical development
  • Urine testing to look for problems such as diabetes, preeclampsia, or even a urinary tract infection

During these visits, your healthcare provider will ask all kinds of questions and it’s important to answer as honestly as possible. Think of your prenatal healthcare provider as a partner in your efforts to stay healthy, have a safe delivery, and take care of the baby after birth. 

How Should You Choose the Right Prenatal Care Provider?

Knowing how to find the right clinician to help you during your pregnancy is always challenging. You want to be sure the doctor or nurse provider is well-qualified to help you throughout pregnancy, delivery, and even afterwards. Some questions to ask include:

  • Is the provider licensed to provide care throughout the pregnancy process?
  • Is the provider covered by your insurance?
  • Does the provider come well-recommended by other patients?
  • Would you prefer a man or a woman provider?
  • Do you feel comfortable with the doctor and his or her staff?
  • What hospital or birthing center does the doctor use?
  • What is the location of the practice and is it convenient for a regular prenatal schedule?

Advanced Obstetrics & Gynecology of Lake County, LLC. provides well-women and prenatal care for our patients. Our goal is your goal—to help you achieve a successful life by attaining better health. Call on us today to get started with better care.

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