Why is prenatal care important?
Pregnancy can be a sensitive time for new mothers, especially if you’re young. Most women feel overwhelmed when they find out that they're pregnant and may not know what the first step to take is. That’s why I've broken down the concept of prenatal care and what it entails.
What is prenatal care?
Prenatal care involves regular check-ups with your doctor, nurse or gynaecologist throughout your pregnancy to ensure that you and your baby are healthy. Regular prenatal care visits will help you learn everything you need to know about your well-being and that of your baby.
What are prenatal care benefits?
Prenatal care helps you reduce the risk of pregnancy complications caused by an unhealthy diet, lack of exercise and exposure to toxic substances in the environment. It also reduces the risk of foetal (unborn baby) and infant complication caused by drinking alcohol and smoking during pregnancy.
It's generally recommended that you start getting prenatal care as soon as you find out that you're pregnant.
What to expect from your prenatal care appointments
At your first prenatal care check up, your health care provider will perform a variety of tests. This is done to screen for any pre-existing conditions that may affect your pregnancy and the development of your baby.
Prenatal tests typically include the following:
Physical exam - measuring your height, weight, blood pressure, breathing and pulse. This also includes a pelvic exam.
Blood and urine tests - testing for sexually transmitted infections, (STIs) including the human immunodeficiency Virus (HIV). Your doctor will also check for diabetes, anaemia, hepatitis B and preeclampsia (a dangerous condition caused by high blood pressure during pregnancy).
Sexual reproductive health screening - your doctor may do a Pap smear test and an early first trimester ultrasound test.
Vitamins - you’ll be given vitamins such as folic acid, Vitamin C and iron supplements to take throughout your pregnancy.
Where can you get started with your prenatal care?
You can get started with your prenatal care at your nearest health clinic, community hospital or your personal gynaecologist. The service is offered for free at government clinics and hospitals.
Prenatal care's important for all expectant mothers. If you’re already pregnant and haven’t had a prenatal care appointment yet, that’s okay but quickly go to your nearest health clinic, community hospital or your gynaecologist to get started right away.
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