Prenatal care is when women receive regular checkups from a doctor, nurse or midwife throughout your duration of the pregnancy. Having regular prenatal checkups is an important part of your pregnancy and ensures that you and your future baby are healthy. The doctor/nurse will ensure that they are monitoring the baby’s growth and development by doing routine testing to avoid any possible complications or problems that may occur. Through these regular check-ups, it is the perfect time to learn how to ease any discomfort that you may experience during your pregnancy. This allows you to bring possible concerns or questions to your doctor and how to best take care of yourself and your future baby.
When would be the best time to start prenatal care?
It would be highly recommended to see a doctor before you plan on conceiving. However, this process can be done as soon as you know you are expecting. The duration of the visits will depend on how far along you are and how high your risk is for any complications occurring during your pregnancy.
The typical schedule is between:
- 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
What happens during your prenatal visit at a doctor’s room?
On your first prenatal visit, this is usually the longest appointment with your doctor as you will go into your medical history, your spouse’s medical history and your family’s medical history. Your doctor will also do a thorough body examination and ensure that the necessary tests are done to make sure you have a healthy pregnancy ahead.
The examination may potentially include the following:
- Measuring your height, weight, blood pressure, breathing and pulse
- Breast and pelvic examination
- Pap-smear test
- Testing for any sexually transmitted infections (Example; chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, and HIV)
- Testing for any underlying health conditions
These tests are vital to ensure you have a healthy pregnancy. Your doctor may also recommend implementing a healthy lifestyle and taking prenatal vitamins throughout your pregnancy. One of the most essential vitamins is taking folic acid and this ideally can be taken before you are pregnant.