Prenatal care is the care that all women should receive while they are pregnant. At each prenatal checkup, women and their babies are monitored closely to help ensure the health of each. Doctors check the weight of the mother periodically, blood and urine samples are taken, ultrasounds are performed, and the growth of the baby is carefully checked. All of these steps are taken to help women have a full term, healthy pregnancy. However, there are some women who can’t, or who choose not to, have prenatal care. These women are putting their lives, and the lives of their babies, at risk. The importance of prenatal care is invaluable and should be treated as important by everyone.
The tests and screenings and samples taken at each prenatal checkup are all done for very important reasons. The weight gain of the mother is taken to ensure that she is growing at a proper rate – not too much, and not too little. Blood and urine samples are taken to check a woman’s iron and sugar levels. These levels are very important to a growing baby and need to be monitored regularly. Ultrasounds are performed for a different number of reasons. At 12-14 weeks of pregnancy, women are given an ultrasound to check for neurological abnormalities that are generally seen at that stage. Women also have another ultrasound around 20 weeks gestation to measure the baby’s growth, measure amniotic fluid, and to find out the gender of the baby if they wish. Around 28 weeks of pregnancy, women are tested for gestational diabetes. And all during pregnancy, women’s blood pressure is monitored and evaluated.
Prenatal care is not to be dismissed by women. All of the tests and checks that are done during pregnancy are for specific reasons. So many times, if things are caught early on, doctors can help women to have a successful pregnancy. But for women who do not have prenatal care, problems that arise may not be known, and thus, not treated properly to ensure a healthy pregnancy, delivery, and baby. If you are on the fence about whether or not to pay for or participate in prenatal care, think of your baby first. His or her health is your main responsibility as you are already his or her Mother.
Posted on behalf of Sean Lambert M.D., North Pointe OB/GYN Associates
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