What Is Included in Prenatal Care?

Whether you’re becoming a parent for the first time or the fifth time, the experience still is exciting and new. If you have children at home and are growing your family, you may be tempted to forego the time and expense of prenatal doctor visits. After all, if you’ve already gone through it a couple times, is prenatal care really all that important? It absolutely is!

Our OB/GYN, Dr. Brandon Lingenfelter, explains what’s included in prenatal care and why it’s essential for the health and well-being of expectant moms and their babies. 

Prenatal care protects you and your baby

Think of prenatal care as a series of regular doctor’s appointments with the ultimate purpose of guiding you through the entire pregnancy process – from the time you first discover you’re pregnant up until you deliver your baby. The goal is a simple one: maintaining your health and delivering a healthy baby.

When it comes to prenatal care, the earlier you make your first appointment, the better for both you and your baby. According to the Office on Women’s Health, babies delivered to mothers who didn’t get prenatal are three times as likely to have a low birth weight and are five times more likely to die.

The news for Mom is equally serious. The most startling fact is that maternal deaths in the United States have been rising since 2000. According to a recent study, an estimated 700 pregnancy-related deaths happen every year in the United States, and about 60% of these deaths could have been prevented.

Part of the problem is that many pregnant women have undiagnosed medical conditions like diabetes and high blood pressure. They go into their pregnancy not knowing they have a serious medical problem that can cause pregnancy complications.

Prenatal care explained

The first thing that may come to mind when you think about prenatal care is taking prenatal vitamins. It’s true that prenatal vitamins are typically part of a prenatal care program, but it’s so much more.

During your first prenatal care visit, Dr. Lingenfelter does a comprehensive physical exam and reviews your family medical history. We typically check your weight and blood pressure and do a urine test and blood work. We also do an ultrasound to determine your due date.

At subsequent visits, we check your weight and blood pressure, measure your belly to asses your baby’s growth, and check your baby’s heart rate.

As your pregnancy progresses, we perform different tests to monitor your health and the health of your baby. You may have another ultrasound where you can find out the sex of your baby. Genetic screening, glucose testing, and fetal monitoring are other common prenatal tests.

Your prenatal visits will be scheduled once a month up until 28 weeks, then every two weeks until 36 weeks, then weekly until you have your baby. If you have a medical condition or have had issues in past pregnancies, we may have you come in more often.

Although detecting and monitoring conditions that can harm you and your baby is at the heart of prenatal care, it’s also a great time for you to seek advice on issues like morning sickness or swollen breasts and ankles.

If you’re pregnant or are thinking about becoming pregnant, contact us so we can get started on your journey to a healthy pregnancy and baby. Schedule a prenatal appointment with Dr. Lingenfelter by using the online booking tool, or you can call our office in Princeton, West Virginia.

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