Guest Post: Prenatal Care Basics

I was offered a guest post from a mom blog reader covering the basics of prenatal care & since my youngest is now 6, I figured they would be more of an authority on this subject that I would.  Enjoy!!!

The Basics of Prenatal Care For All Moms-To-Be

Prenatal care is such an important aspect of pregnancy. It ensures a healthy progression of pregnancy, providing tips, support and health care to the expectant mother. Visits throughout pregnancy are at regularly, spaced out intervals. The following information should be useful.

My First Visit at 6-8 weeks: Question Time

During your first visit you will be asked a number of questions about your health as well as your family health history. These prenatal tests are important as the doctor needs to ascertain whether there are any hereditary/autoimmune diseases in the family and whether these might affect the baby. You will also be asked some questions about previous pregnancies, current and past relationships and sexual activity, information about your diet as well as any medication you are taking. During this visit the doctor will also need to determine when the baby was conceived so as to be able to give you a good idea of your due date.

Will there be any physical examinations during my first visit?

Yes, in your visit (or perhaps in your second) you will need to undergo the following physical examinations:

  • Urine analysis for certain proteins as well as glucose
  • Recording of your weight and height
  • Uterine size by examination of pelvic floor

My Second Visit: At around 10 weeks

This is another special moment during pregnancy. Fetal heart beat can be detected at around the 10th week and you will actually be able to hear it.  Your baby’s heart beat increases as pregnancy progresses. The increase in heart beat is so well correlated with gestational age that the doctor can tell you the exact age of the embryo.

Next visit at around 16 weeks

You will also undergo maternal serum screening (a special type of blood test) for the following:

  • Chromosomal abnormalities (ex. Down’s Syndrome)
  • Neural tube defects (ex. Spina Bifida)

Maternal serum screening tests can determine the likelihood of the fetus developing the disorder. It cannot confirm with 100% accuracy that the fetus actually has developed the disorder. If doctors suspect the unborn baby might be suffering from a genetic illness, they may recommend amniocentesis or chorionic villus sampling. These tests allow scientists to test the baby’s genetic material. If you have doubts about the paternity of the child, these tests also enable you to carry out a pregnancy paternity test.

My visit at 18- 20 weeks

This is when you get to do your ultrasound. The ultrasound helps take certain important fetal measurements, the baby’s weight and its position in the womb. The doctor can also tell you the sex of your baby. Note that the FDA does not recommend an ultrasound with solely the aim of determining the gender of the fetus.

Further visits

Your next visit will be at around 24 weeks and again at 28 weeks. In this latter visit glucose concentrations in your blood will be recorded. This is crucial for a healthy progression of pregnancy as it ensures the mother has not developed gestational diabetes. At this stage of pregnancy, insulin levels increase as your body needs to produce over twice as much as it normally would. If your body is unable to produce these levels of insulin, it will allow an accumulation of sugar in your blood stream from your food intake. This could cause high blood sugar levels and gestational diabetes.  So as long as it is detected, it should not cause any problems. You will, from now on, have visits to the doctor at 4 week intervals. After 36 weeks, visits become weekly.

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