Prenatal Care

 

It is undisputed that the very best way to take care of your unborn baby is to follow a complete prenatal care program. This includes regular visits to your doctor. By means of careful and regular examinations, your doctor can identify most problems before they arise. Seeing your doctor regularly helps to identify any problems as they may arise and to correct them before they become harmful to the mother or the baby. It's natural for a pregnant woman to have many questions during pregnancy. The opportunity to discuss these concerns with her doctor can be just the reassurance she needs. Usually you will be seen every four weeks until you are 28 weeks pregnant. Then every two weeks until the 36th week, and weekly until you deliver. Your doctor may change this schedule depending on your health history and any special conditions which may exist.

Your first prenatal visit should take place as early as possible into your pregnancy. The majority of a baby's vital organs are developed by the time you are about ten weeks pregnant. Your first prenatal visit will usually last the longest. This appointment will also be the most comprehensive of all visits. This visit will include the following:

 

●     Medical history

●     Internal and external examinations

●     Blood pressure

●     Pap smear

●     Blood screens

●     Record pregnancy weight record

●     Record last menstrual period

●     Urinalysis

Many other questions will be asked, designed to get an overall idea about your state of health so your doctor can assess any potential complications that may exist.

The prenatal visits to follow will be less intensive. They will usually consist of a blood pressure check, a urinalysis, a weight check, and measurement of your belly. Your doctor will also listen to your baby's heartbeat at these visits. By the 12th week your doctor will probably perform an ultrasound to check on the health of your baby.

When you move into your third trimester you will notice a few changes in your doctor visits. In addition to the routine that you have become accustomed to, your doctor will also feel your abdomen to determine your baby's size and position. Internal examinations will also become customary. This is to determine if your cervix has made any prelabor changes. During the third trimester your baby will move into the head-down, or vertex, position. Some babies do not make this change and remain in the breech position. At this time your doctor may try to turn the baby by pushing on your abdomen, encouraging the baby to turn.

As you can see, a complete prenatal program can help you have the safest and healthiest pregnancy possible. But more than that, prenatal care will offer you the support. counseling and education that can make your pregnancy a positive, rewarding experience.