Antenatal or prenatal care refers to the care that a woman receives during pregnancy. This includes healthcare services to the would-be mother as well as the unborn baby. Also, other health concerns regarding pregnancy are addressed during antenatal visits.
Most women do not realise the importance of consulting a gynaecologist right from the beginning of pregnancy. Often, they try to evade pregnancy tests and scans in trying to curb costs. However, care for the mother and the baby should begin as soon as pregnancy is confirmed.
In this blog we will highlight some of the most important benefits of prenatal visits to a healthcare centre.
Prenatal check-up’s during the first trimester
- During the first trimester, the mother needs to ensure that she consumes a well-balanced diet so as to provide the baby with all the necessary nutrients for growth and development. Folic acid supplements are recommended as they reduce the risk of neural tube defects in the foetus during the first 12 weeks.
- Consuming alcohol and smoking during pregnancy increases the risk of premature delivery and birth d
- effects in the foetus. Visiting the obstetrician during early pregnancy can help you receive important advice regarding diet and lifestyle.
- Certain medications can be extremely harmful to the unborn baby. If you have any pre-existing medical conditions, an antenatal check-up will help you understand how it can affect your pregnancy and your healthcare provider will advise you on ways to bring it under control.
- Also, it is during the first trimester that the first ultrasound scan is done to observe the development in the foetus and to determine the expected date of delivery. Multiple pregnancies can be identified during the scan.A blood test will also be conducted to rule out possibilities of infections, blood cell count, blood typing, and screening for Rh antibodies.
Prenatal check-ups during the second trimester
Until the end of the second trimester, you will typically have an antenatal check-up every 4 weeks. Tests that you can expect during this time include:
- Urine test – you will be asked to give a urine sample to check for blood sugar and protein.
- Blood test–is conducted to rule out possibilities of infections, blood cell count, blood typing, and screening for Rh antibodies.
- Ultrasound– ultrasound scan helps observe the developments like heart rate, head-to-toe measurements in the foetus, etc. Down syndrome, which is a chromosomal abnormality, can also be identified during this stage.
- Measurements–the size and shape of your uterus is measured.
- Blood pressure and weight–your blood pressure and weight will be checked at each prenatal visit.
Prenatal check-ups during the third trimester
In the third trimester, you will be expected to visit your obstetrician every two weeks.This helps identify the position of the baby as it drops low in the uterus in the head down position, in preparation for the birthing process, towards the end of the trimester.
Without regular prenatal check-ups, problems in the placenta, foetal abnormalities and other complications will go unnoticed, posing a health threat to both the mother and child. Even if you feel perfectly fine or have gone through healthy pregnancies previously, you still require regular antenatal check-ups from the beginning of your pregnancy until the birth of your baby.
Remember, there is no substitute for good prenatal care!