Congratulations! However your pregnancy has come about, you are entering an exciting time of change. There are many things that you will have to think about during the next nine months. We are here to help you with the matter of your and your baby’s health. The car seats, nursery colors, and baby names are on your plate. For now, we invite you to schedule your first prenatal appointment in a Grace Obstetrics and Gynecology office near you.
What Is Prenatal Care?
Prenatal care is the comprehensive healthcare that you will receive from your obstetrician or midwife. Self-care is also an important aspect of your successful pregnancy. Once a positive pregnancy has been confirmed, we like to commence with personalized prenatal care. Visits typically occur every month, and focus on monitoring fetal development, including listening to that tiny heartbeat and measuring mother’s vitals. The frequency of office visits increases at the beginning of the third trimester of pregnancy.
What Is the Value of Prenatal Care?
Research indicates that prenatal care facilitates the birth of a healthy infant. This is in direct correlation to the frequent follow-up with mother and baby to measure growth and development. Prenatal care also enables healthcare providers to identify abnormalities that could indicate a health problem for either the mother or her fetus. Finally, women who obtain quality prenatal care build a strong relationship with the healthcare provider whom will be with them during labor and delivery.
What Does Prenatal Self-Care Entail?
During initial prenatal visits, lifestyle habits are as much a topic of discussion as is medical history. Habits such as smoking and consuming alcohol are detrimental to a growing fetus, as is stress. Healthcare providers discuss how and when to implement dietary changes and supplementation, such as folic acid. Some women may need to modify eating habits to include more fresh fruits and vegetables and less refined sugar. Exercise and rest are activities that should be obtained in balance so mother and baby can thrive.
Why Am I Tested for Diabetes?
There is a condition called gestational diabetes that may develop during pregnancy. Gestational diabetes means that mother’s body is not responding to insulin appropriately and that too much glucose is in the blood. Insulin resistance is actually a common effect of pregnancy, due to the natural increase in blood glucose to nourish the fetus. Ideally, insulin production will increase accordingly, keeping blood glucose levels in check. Sometimes this does not occur, and gestational diabetes is the result.
Management of gestational diabetes can be a crucial aspect of prenatal care. Screening is typically scheduled between weeks 24 and 28 of pregnancy. Both before and after this time, a woman can try to control glucose levels with healthy dietary and exercise choices. If screening is positive for gestational diabetes, we will discuss a self-care plan and, if necessary, prescribe medication.
Why Is Blood Pressure an Important Measurement During Pregnancy?
Blood pressure is something that we monitor closely throughout pregnancy. This measurement tells us how much pressure is placed on the walls of blood vessels when the heart pumps blood through them. It is important that we detect any degree of hypertension, if it exists, early in pregnancy. Uncontrolled hypertension can adversely affect the fetus and can threaten the pregnancy.
But What If My Blood Pressure Has Always Been Normal?
Just like a pregnant woman is at a greater risk for diabetes during pregnancy, high blood pressure is also a condition that can develop as a result of being pregnant. Gestational hypertension may not occur until the second half of pregnancy. If it develops at any time, management becomes our priority. Medication is prescribed when necessary to prevent preeclampsia, a potentially serious condition that affects a woman’s organs.
The objective of prenatal care is to help you complete your gestational journey with a healthy body and a healthy baby. Routine care occurs frequently, and we always welcome your questions in between visits.