A healthy start for you and your baby
5 REASONS YOU NEED PRENATAL CARE
Here’s one of the most important things you should do as soon as you learn you’re pregnant: Make an appointment for your first prenatal care checkup. It’s the health care you and your baby need right now and in the months ahead.
“Finding out that you are expecting can be overwhelming, but making an OB appointment is an easy first step to get you on the right track,” says Yetunde Akinde, MD, MPH, Riverside women’s health provider.
Why? For starters:
1 Prenatal care helps keep both of you healthy. Getting regular prenatal care can help prevent some pregnancy problems or catch them early, when they can be easier to treat. You’ll have several prenatal visits throughout your pregnancy. At each one, your health care provider will check to make sure you and your baby are healthy.
2 Prenatal care helps increase the chances of you having a full-term baby. Moms-to-be who get regular checkups are also less likely to have low-birth-weight babies. When babies are born too early or too small, it can cause health problems.
3 You’ll get great advice. Did you know that you shouldn’t take very hot baths while pregnant? Prenatal visits provide opportunities to learn about many other important pregnancy dos and don’ts, as well as all the ways you can keep yourself and your baby safe and healthy. For instance, you can learn about eating healthy foods, exercising, managing stress and gaining just the right amount of pregnancy weight.
4 You’ll get the health screenings you need. Your provider can make sure you get the recommended tests for pregnant women. For instance, you might need blood and urine tests to look for treatable conditions like infections, anemia, pre-eclampsia (potentially dangerous high blood pressure during pregnancy) and gestational diabetes.
5 You’ll learn your due date and hear that baby’s heartbeat! After about 10 weeks, you can listen to your baby’s heartbeat. At around 20 weeks, you may be able to learn from your first ultrasound if you’re having a girl or a boy, if you want to find out.
Go early, go often
You’ll likely see your provider about once a month at first and then once a week in the last part of your pregnancy. Your provider will give you a schedule of prenatal care visits. It’s important to go to all of them.
“Building a positive relationship with your OB can help you feel at ease while you are on this journey,” Dr. Akinde says. “Your OB is available whenever you need them to be a trusted source for information and care during your pregnancy.”
Sources: March of Dimes; Office on Women’s Health