The Importance of Prenatal Exams
July 12, 2017
Prenatal exams are designed to promote and support the health of both mother and baby from the minute you find out you’re pregnant, to the moment your baby is safely delivered into your arms.
Countless studies have connected routine prenatal care and healthier pregnancy outcomes – meaning women who get regular prenatal care are much more likely to have a successful and uneventful pregnancy and birthing experience, and less likely to have pregnancy and/or labor and delivery complications.
If you’re searching for a prenatal care provider in the Kansas City area, we’d love to meet you. Women’s Health Associates care for women – provided by a 100% women-only staff.
Once you’ve made your first prenatal checkup, read, What to Expect and How to Prepare for Your First Prenatal Checkup, so you know what comes next.
What is Prenatal Care?
So, what is prenatal care exactly?
Prenatal care is wholly and completely designed to care for you and your baby. During monthly visits (that will increase in frequency at Week 36 and again at Week 40). Throughout your pregnancy, we’ll check in regarding:
Your overall well-being
From weight and pregnancy woes, to your overall feelings of well-being – we want to make sure you’re doing the very best you can from the start to the finish of your pregnancy. Firstly, we’ll do all the stuff we usually do at a doctor’s appointment – take your temperature, pulse, blood pressure, etc. We’ll look at your tummy and measure its size to track fetal uterine and fetal development. We’ll weigh you to make sure you’re gaining just enough – but not too much – during the pregnancy.
We’ll also want to know how you’re doing – in a very literal way. For many women, pregnancy is a joyous time, for others it can be incredibly challenging – your prenatal care provider should be someone you can trust to share both sides of the coin so you gain the support, assurance and information you need to weather the ebbs and flows of the journey.
We’ll also be here for you after the baby is delivered, to ensure that breastfeeding is going smoothly, to remain alert for any signs of postpartum depression or anxiety and to verify your body is healing well after your labor and delivery. You are never alone.
What you’re eating and drinking
You are what you eat, right? And that’s never more true than when your pregnant. Just as studies correlate adequate prenatal care and healthy birth outcomes, studies also show that adequate nutrition plays a powerful role in the health of both mothers and babies, as well as the healthy unfolding of your baby’s pre- and postnatal development.
Healthy nutrition includes things like getting enough protein and the right kinds of proteins, eating lots of fruits and vegetables, drinking plenty of water to remain hydrated and staying away from foods that post a risk to developing newborns, like deli meats, blue cheese, fish high in metals/toxins, foods in high sugar/fat/processed content, etc.
A review of your lifestyle habits
Are you a smoker? Do you drink alcohol? Are you currently on any medications? Do you exercise?
Your answers to these and other lifestyle habits are so important. Please answer honestly because we need to know how to create a personally-tailored pregnancy plan. If there’s something you need to stop (like smoking or drinking) we can help. If you’re taking medications that aren’t recommended for pregnancy, we’ll work with your primary care provider to establish a safer medication protocol. Does your diet and exercise program need an overhaul? We’ll help with that too!
Providing routine tests and screenings
Everyone’s familiar with the Doppler that allows you to hear the babies heartbeat, and ultrasounds that provide those sweet images, allowing you to see your baby as it develops from a little lump, into a full-fledged sweetie pie. There are plenty of other routine tests and screenings offered as well, from tests that check for chromosomal and genetic anomalies, to tests for gestational diabetes.
Some of the prenatal tests/screenings are highly recommended, some are offered if you’re interested and others are not necessary at all unless we see or sense that something isn’t quite right. Your prenatal care provider should go over all of the available tests with you, discussing their risks/benefits and allowing you to proceed – or not- depending on your wishes and preferences.
Get to know us appointment by appointment
Of course, your health, and your baby’s health, are the top priority. But the reality is that most pregnancies proceed perfectly normal. In addition to compassionate support and reassurance, your prenatal appointments are also a way for you to become more comfortable with your labor and delivery team.
We’re going to be present at one of the most sacred, challenging and intimate moments of your life – your labor and the delivery of your baby – so it makes perfect sense that you should trust us, respect us and feel comfortable with us. Without regular contact and engagement, it’s more difficult to achieve that important level of familiarity.
Choosing the right care provider is so important. If you don’t have an OB/GYN chosen yet, do your research and start scheduling consultations to interview them. Only settle for the very best, and choose someone you feel good about. That’s a huge step in the direction of a happy, healthy pregnancy and birthing experience.