Prenatal care is essential for both mother and child. The prenatal care doctor will assess the pregnancy, answer questions, and provide recommendations about your diet, activity level, medications, and more. They can also offer you basic advice on what to do if you're having trouble with your pregnancy and answer any queries you might have about labor and birth. However, not all American mothers seek this essential care. In 2019, for instance, about 6.4% of infants were born to American women who received late or no prenatal care.
Why Is Prenatal Care Essential?
Medical care from a health care provider before, during, and after pregnancy is called prenatal care. It helps lower the risk of congenital disabilities, infant mortality, and injury to pregnant women. Prenatal care also reduces the number of low-birth-weight babies. In some cases, a prenatal care doctor can help prevent miscarriage and stillbirth.
Prenatal care is especially important for pregnant women who have chronic health conditions, such as diabetes or high blood pressure. It helps to control these conditions and prevent them from getting worse.
Usually, prenatal care includes checkups with a doctor throughout pregnancy. In addition to regular checkups, prenatal care often includes:
- Education about how to eat, take care of your teeth and gums, and keep the home clean and safe
- Education about pregnancy, childbirth, and infant care
- Laboratory tests to measure factors such as blood pressure or sugar levels in the blood
- Screening tests help find problems, such as HIV, syphilis, and anemia
- Ultrasound tests to check the growth of the baby
More significantly, prenatal care also includes finding out if you have high blood pressure (hypertension) and diabetes, two conditions that can cause serious health problems for pregnant women and their babies. Your prenatal care doctor may recommend treatment for these conditions before and during pregnancy.
Choosing a Prenatal Care Doctor
Your choice of a healthcare provider is personal. It is crucial to choose someone you feel comfortable with and who has the education and experience to meet your needs. Here are some vital tips on selecting a provider:
- Ask friends, family, and other women you trust for recommendations
- Investigate the provider's education and experience before choosing one
- Find out how often the provider treats pregnant women and what kind of prenatal care they offer
- Ask about their charges before and after your baby is born
Prenatal care is vital for expecting mothers and should be taken seriously. It can help you to have a healthy pregnancy, birth, and baby. It can help identify potential risk factors, reduce hospitalization during childbirth, improve both maternal and infant health outcomes, and decrease preterm births and low birth weight infants.