18 May Taking Care of You and Your Baby While You’re Pregnant
Is prenatal care important?
Prenatal care is very important. To help make sure you and your baby will be as healthy as possible, follow some simple guidelines and check in regularly with your doctor.
What will happen during prenatal visits?
After you find out you are pregnant, you should make an appointment with your doctor. Your doctor will probably start by talking to you about your medical history and how you have been feeling. You will be weighed and have your blood pressure taken. These measurements will most likely be taken during each doctor’s visit.
On your first visit, you may also have a pelvic exam to check the size and shape of your uterus (womb) and a Pap smear to screen for cervical cancer if you are due for a cervical cancer screening.
Urine and blood test samples will be taken on the first visit and again at later visits. Urine tests are performed to check for bacteria, high sugar levels (which can be a sign of diabetes), and high protein levels (which can be a sign of preeclampsia, a type of high blood pressure during pregnancy). Blood tests are performed to check for low iron levels (anemia), blood cell count, infectious diseases (such as syphilis, HIV, and hepatitis), and blood type.
Sometimes, an ultrasound may be done to help figure out when your baby is due or to check on your baby’s growth and position in your uterus. An ultrasound uses sound waves to create an image of your baby on a video screen.
Other tests may be needed if you or your baby are at risk for any problems.
After your first visit, you will have a prenatal visit every 4 weeks until about the 7th month, then every 2 weeks until the last month, and then every week until you deliver your baby. At each visit you will give a urine sample and have your weight and blood pressure checked. You and your doctor will discuss any concerns you are having, and the doctor will listen to the baby’s heartbeat and measure the height of your uterus in your abdomen after the 20th week.
Read the rest of the story on FamilyDoctor.org.