Prenatal care is when you go for regular checkups from a doctor, nurse, or midwife throughout your pregnancy period. It helps keep you and your baby safe and healthy.
During check-ups, pregnant women receive medical information over maternal physiological changes in pregnancy, biological changes, and prenatal nutrition including prenatal vitamins. Recommendations on management and healthy lifestyle changes are also made during regular check-ups. The availability of routine prenatal care, including prenatal screening and diagnosis, has played a part in reducing the frequency of maternal death, miscarriages, birth defects, low birth weight, neonatal infections, and other preventable health problems.
Why is prenatal care important?
Prenatal care is very essential aspect of staying healthy during pregnancy.
Your doctor, nurse, or midwife will monitor your future baby’s growth and do regular testing to help detect and prevent certain problems or pregnancy complications. These regular checkups are also a great time to discuss with your doctor about any discomfort you are experiencing during pregnancy and to learn how to ease any distress. Also, it is a great time for you to ask any other questions about your pregnancy and the birth of your unborn child.
When do I need to start having prenatal care appointments?
Your prenatal care appointment should start immediately you discover you’re pregnant. You should start preparing to go to your doctor if you noticed you’ve conceived.
It is advisable to see a doctor before you conceive or before getting pregnant — this is also known as pre-pregnancy care or preconception planning. But if you are unable to go see your doctor before getting pregnant, just start preparing for your prenatal visits as soon as possible
How often will I have prenatal care visits?
How often you’ll get prenatal care depends on how far your future baby development and if your doctor notices a higher risk of pregnancy complications.
The normal prenatal care schedule for someone who’s 18-35 years old and healthy is:
- Every 4 or 6 weeks for the first 32 weeks
- Every 2 or 3 weeks for the 32nd-37th weeks
- Every week from the 37th week until delivery
Your doctor might ask you to come in for check-ups more often if you have a high-risk pregnancy.
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