What Is Prenatal Care?
Prenatal care is the care you receive from a health care provider, such as a doctor, or nurse practitioner, during pregnancy. During prenatal care visits, your health care provider will make sure you and the developing fetus are healthy and strong. These regular checkups are your chance to learn how to manage the discomforts of pregnancy, have any testing you may need, learn warning signs, and ask any questions you may have.
It's best to begin prenatal care as soon as you know you're pregnant.
At Your First Prenatal Visit:
The first prenatal care visit is usually the longest. The examination is very thorough. You will be asked questions about your medical history. You will also be asked about your partner's medical history and your family's medical history. You will have a complete physical exam. Your health care provider will measure your height, weight, blood pressure, breathing, and pulse.
Usually, you will be given a gynecological exam that will include:
- a breast exam
- a Pap test
- tests for STI’s
You may be offered blood or skin tests to check for various things, such as:
- blood type
- certain inherited diseases
You may be offered urine tests to check for diabetes, toxicology, and other diseases or infections.
Your health care provider may take this opportunity to discuss your lifestyle and habits and to suggest certain changes that may help make the pregnancy healthier. One of the most important things a woman can do is to take a prenatal vitamin with folic acid every day to prevent serious birth defects.