What is Involved in Prenatal Care

Having a baby is one the greatest moments in a person’s life.  When you first find out that you are pregnant, the rush and thrill that you feel is soon over taken by the thought of what you need to do next to provide the baby growing inside you the best chance of survival.  Getting good prenatal care is one of the most important things that you can do.  But does prenatal care involve?  There are many facets to prenatal care.  Here are some of the major things that you will experience in this care.

Doctors appointments

Usually you will visit the doctor once a month until about the 7 1/2 to 8 month mark.  Then you will go to appointments every two weeks until the 8 1/2-9 month mark.  Last, your appointments will be about once a week until you deliver.  This is so that the doctor can check the status of the baby.  This is done through several methods.  A fetal scope will listen to the heart beat.  By doing this, the doctor can estimate how well the baby is doing.  Measuring your stomach is another way to ensure that fetal growth is normal.  Your weight will be monitored to make sure you are not losing or gaining too much.

Lab Tests

If there is a history of diabetes in your family, you may have to have a glucose tolerance test.  This is where you drink super sweet uncarbonated soda.  Then blood is taken every 1/2 to 1 hour to test your glucose levels.  This will ensure that if you do have gestational diabetes, it is caught early and treated accordingly, thereby reducing the health risks to the fetus. 

Your doctor may order other tests as deemed necessary including genetic tests based on family history, regular hematocrit levels to ensure that there is enough red blood cells to support both you and the baby. 

You may have a urine test at each doctor appointment to ensure that not too may proteins or sugars are in the urine.  These are one of the fist signs of diabetes, and can trigger a whole new set of blood tests.

Ultrasound

This is a relatively easy test.  You simply have a full bladder.  The wand is then placed over your stomach and bladder to give an ultrasonic view of the baby.  This ensures that fetal growth is normal, that fetal development is normal and allows you the first “look” at your baby.  

Vitamins

Your body requires more nutrients to help a fetus to grow healthily.  Vitamins that include iron are one part of this.  Taken once a day, it is best to take with food, as the iron can be quit upsetting to the stomach.

Blood Pressure

Your blood pressure is taken at each visit to ensure that it is normal.  While high blood pressure is a concern for everyone, a condition called Pre-eclampsia and eclampsia can be fatal to an unborn fetus.  Careful monitoring of your blood pressure ensures that it is caught early, so that treatment can begin.

Childbirth Classes

These teach you the Lamaze method, while also giving you a chance to see other options.  Many offer assistance with lactation choices and aids, a tour through the maternity ward and information that you will need as you prepare for delivery.  While it is not necessary, it is highly recommended that you take these classes so that you can understand the birthing process.

While being pregnant is a blessing, there are many things that taking care of the unborn fetus requires to ensure a healthy baby at delivery.  Good prenatal care is our best offense to make this happen.  Understanding what is entailed in prenatal care, you can make a wise choice on the care you and your unborn fetus will and should receive.