Every pregnant woman wants the best for her future baby. As soon as you are expecting or planning to conceive, try your best to schedule your first prenatal visit. Why is it important? The prenatal check-up is the health check-up before conception or during your pregnancy to ensure you and your baby are healthy throughout.
There are two ways of how your prenatal visit work –
- If you are planning to visit your doctor before conception (Preconception checkups), a few things you might need to expect from your healthcare provider :
- Full health check-ups and advice to husband and wife
- Explain the importance of folic acid and advice on taking folic acid before conception
- Screen and control for any chronic illnesses
- Advice on healthy weight
- Advice to stop smoking, taking any drugs, drinking alcohol.
Preconception check-up might seem least important to some women as they are not expecting yet. However, according to Child Trends, we could reduce the unwanted risk that could arise during pregnancy if women are closely following a healthy, safe diet; getting regular exercise as advised by a healthcare provider; also avoiding exposure to potentially harmful substances. (1)
- If you are expecting, your first prenatal care check-ups are as follows :
- Urine Pregnancy Test- To reconfirm pregnancy
- Height and weight will be measured
- Physical examination
- Estimate your Expected Date of Delivery (EDD) – Estimated by adding 9 months and 7 days to the first day of your last menstrual period
- Urine sample
- Blood sample (for blood grouping, Hb estimation, screening for HIV & VDRL)
- Discussing on mother and fetus’ health
- Advising on nutrition and also providing supplements (examples are folic acid and iron)
- Ultrasound scans (Depending on your week of pregnancy, your first ultrasound will be your dating scan usually between 8-12 weeks)
* Some other tests might be offered based on your age, personal or family health history
Nurses also will ask you a few questions related to:
- Your menstrual cycle
- Personal history
- History of medicine and surgery
- History of past pregnancy
- Economic and social background
Once settled, the date of your next follow-up visit will be given. Your nurse will provide a copy of the prenatal card that you have to bring during the next clinic visit. The entire process takes approximately 1- 2 hours depending on the workload of the clinic during your visit.
A prenatal visit is important to ensure your health and fetal wellbeing are carefully monitored. The best suggested period for your first prenatal check-up is before 12 weeks of pregnancy as this is an important visit to identify and manage any health complications (if any) and to screen for possible risk factors during fetal development and their consequences. Apart from that, you will be also advised on medications that you are already taking whether they are safe or not. Women should not take some medications, for example, herbal or diet supplements, some acne medications (2) during pregnancy because these can harm the fetus.
It is recommended that prenatal visits be as follows:
- Before 28 weeks – once a month
- 28 – 35 weeks – every 2 weeks
- 36 weeks and above – every week
Home visits at least 4 times throughout pregnancy. The frequency of visits depends on your needs and circumstances.
- Child Trends Databank. (2015). Late or no prenatal care. Retrieved May 20, 2016, from http://www.childtrends.org/?indicators=late-or-no-prenatal-care
- Women Health. (2012) Prenatal care https://www.womenshealth.gov/a-z-topics/prenatal-care