Prenatal care, the care of yourself and your baby while you are pregnant, improves the likelihood of a healthy pregnancy. According to the CDC and the Adequacy of Prenatal Care Utilization (APNCU), 15% of women receive inadequate prenatal care. Prenatal Care can be provided by a family physician, obstetrician, midwife, or Group Prenatal Care.
During prenatal medical care, each trimester brings different considerations and exams. The earlier in your pregnancy that you begin prenatal care, the better medical attention your doctor can provide. Your visits to your medical professional can help to monitor any irregularities in your health or your baby’s well being. Here is what you can expect in each trimester.
First Trimester Care
The first prenatal visit generally consists of confirming the pregnancy and discussing personal and family medical history. It is helpful for your physician to know what runs in your family genetically, what substances you have been exposed to, what medications you take, and other lifestyle and travel choices.
Your doctor will also be able to estimate your due date, check your blood pressure, your height and weight, and your blood type. In the beginning, you will likely have monthly visits. By the end of your first trimester, your doctor should be able to let you hear your baby’s heartbeat! If you have any questions or concerns about your pregnancy, visits with your doctor are a great time to get them answered.
Second Trimester Care
In the second trimester, your doctor will continue to monitor your health. He or she will also measure your baby’s growth, listen to your baby’s heartbeat, and even measure your baby’s movement if you have been feeling flutters or kicks.
In the second trimester, the morning sickness associated with increased estrogen in the first trimester, will begin to ease and you will likely begin to feel better. Keep your doctor updated with how you are feeling so they can provide the best aid.
Third Trimester Care
In the third trimester the frequency of your visits will increase. Towards the end of your third trimester, you will likely be visiting your medical professional weekly or more frequently. Your doctor will want to know how you have been feeling and if you have experienced any contractions or bleeding. Your doctor can screen you for common bacterium that can be dangerous to babies during delivery, administer necessary vaccines, and check the baby’s position. Continue to ask the questions that you have with your doctor. There is no question that is silly or embarrassing.
Considerations During Pregnancy
According to the CDC, there are several considerations and situations to avoid if possible. For more information on the list below, please visit the CDC website.
- High Blood Pressure
- Workplace Exposure
- Chemical Exposure
- Radiation Exposure
- Weight Gain
Substance Abuse/Opioid Use
One particularly common topic regarding pregnancy and health today is substance and opioid abuse. The effects of substance abuse and use of opioids vary based on the substance being used and the quantity or frequency of use. During pregnancy, it is unsafe to consume alcohol, use prescription or illegal opioids, and smoke cigarettes or marijuana. Some of the risks of these substances include:
- Preterm birth
- Low birth weight
- Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD)
- Birth defects
Nutrition and Exercise
When pregnant, your health care is not only about what to avoid, but also the positive choices you can make to protect yourself and the health of your baby. Consult with your medical professional to determine the intensity and frequency of exercise that is right for you, as well as what foods and nutrients are important for your health. Some key nutrients, according to the Mayo Clinic include folate and folic acid, protein, iron, calcium, and vitamin D.
The Importance of You!
The significant thing to remember is that you are the most important person in determining the care you and your baby receive. Be active in your decision to make healthy choices, consult regularly with your doctor, and avoid substances and situations that can bring you and your baby harm.
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