Pregnant African Woman

Prenatal care is a cornerstone of a healthy pregnancy, labor, and baby. Why? Because throughout your pregnancy, prenatal checkups are used to ensure both you and your baby are progressing as you should. It provides the opportunity for you to get answers to your questions, and the relationship you develop with your OB/GYN and/or Midwife will make you more at ease with the changes going on in your body. Great prenatal care will also make you more comfortable and confident when you go into labor.

If you suspect you’re pregnant, make an appointment with your OB/GYN to be sure and begin prenatal care as early as possible. Not happy with your current doctor? This is the time to begin interviewing different OBs and/or their midwifery group so you are cared for by professionals you are comfortable with, and whom you trust!

Five benefits of prenatal care:

1. Your health depends on it. And when we say “your health” we mean the both of you. According, “Babies of mothers who do not get prenatal care are three times more likely to have a low birth weight and five times more likely to die than those born to mothers who do get care.” Also, while most pregnancies proceed perfectly normally – after all, women’s bodies were designed to be pregnant and give birth – your prenatal visits will detect any potential health concerns, such as anemia, gestational diabetes or pre-eclampsia – which can be treated when caught early.

2. Get accurate nutritional information. Your diet may have to go through some changes in order to meet the nutritional needs of your baby. Your doctor will be give you very specific information about your recommended dietary intake for the next nine months, including what you should not eat. Some of the most innocent foods, like lunch meat, hot dogs, and blue cheese dressing, will have to sidelined. Contrary to popular belief, pregnancy doesn’t mean you get to eat for two (sorry!). In fact, for a single baby you only need about 300 extra calories per day. All of this information – and more – will be provided at your prenatal appointments.

3. Keep track of your baby’s development. Your baby’s growth is a major indicator of how well he or she is doing in there. During your appointments, your doctor will measure your belly from sternum to the top of your pubic bone. These measurements help her to see how your baby is growing. Of course, modern technology will assist with that as well. Ultrasounds – now available in 3-D – will be strategically timed to verify your baby’s gender and development.

4. Schedule appropriate testing. Depending on your age, medical history, and family history, your OB/GYN may recommend certain tests. For example, an amniocentesis is a test that is done during the second trimester. It is used predominantly to check for genetic abnormalities, such as Down Syndrome, but can also be used to detect a potential uterine infection, to check on the baby’s health if you have Rh sensitization (when your baby has a different blood type than you) or to verify the maturity of the baby’s lungs. Other tests may be recommended as well but are only available if you’re getting regular prenatal care from an OB/GYN or midwife.

5. Learn about labor and delivery. It is up to you and your partner to create your labor and delivery plan. However, how that plan is laid out will depend on the information you have about labor and deliveryprocedures. Your prenatal visits offer you the chance to discuss these procedures, potential scenarios, questions and concerns with your doctor. This includes learning about the risks and benefits of every intervention or treatment available to you.

— Source: Overlake OB/GYN

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