If your pregnancy is unplanned, it’s likely that you haven’t taken any steps to ensure your early pregnancy started on a healthy note. That’s completely okay; many women don’t know about their pregnancy until they are several weeks along, and it’s normal for them to continue their everyday lifestyle until then.
However, it’s important to start thinking about the necessary prenatal care services you’ll need as soon as you can in your pregnancy to give yourself and your baby a healthy start for the nine months ahead.
When you start researching your upcoming prenatal care doctor visits, you probably have a few questions. What happens during a prenatal care office visit? How different can it be from annual checkups by your general practitioner?
We know that pregnancy care can be confusing for many women, especially those who are facing their first pregnancies or those who didn’t expect to be pregnant at this time in their lives. To help you out, we’ve provided the basic information you need to know about your prenatal care options below. Having the right knowledge from the start will help you and your baby get the care you need to remain safe and healthy!
What Typical Prenatal Care Doctor Visits Include
Before we dive into the details of what happens during a prenatal care office visit, you first need to understand that every pregnancy is different. This means every woman will receive different prenatal care based on her personal medical background and current situation. Only an experienced obstetrician can give you the best idea of what prenatal care options are the best for you and your unborn baby.
That said, most prenatal care doctor visits include the same type of tests, screening and discussions. The best prenatal care is designed to track your baby’s development and your body’s own response to your pregnancy, so your doctor will usually take the same steps as all other obstetricians.
Your prenatal care appointments will vary based on how far along you are in your pregnancy, but most appointments will include a few basic points:
- Taking of your vital signs: Like any medical checkup, a prenatal care visit will include the basic health checks. This means your doctor will check your weight, blood pressure, urine and general well-being.
- Tracking the development of your baby: Prenatal care visits will, obviously, focus on your unborn baby. Your doctor will likely measure your abdomen, check the position of your baby, listen to your baby’s heartbeat and perform any other exams and tests recommended for your stage of pregnancy.
- Discussion of your pregnancy experience: Pregnancy is unique for every woman, and you will likely have questions and concerns for your doctor along the way. At every prenatal care appointment, your doctor will discuss normal and abnormal signs during this stage in your pregnancy, what to expect as you continue and what your personal medical situation may require. They will also help you prepare for your upcoming labor and delivery experience, too.
Depending on how far along you are in your pregnancy, your visits may also include certain tests and ultrasounds. Your doctor should let you know of these in advance. Otherwise, you may find that your prenatal care appointments are over fairly quickly. This is good news; it means everything in your pregnancy is progressing as expected. However, don’t be afraid to speak up if you want more advice and attention during your medical appointments.
The Important Components of Good Prenatal Care
Many types of prenatal care are given by a medical professional — but some of the most important components of prenatal care are your responsibility as an expectant mother. Your doctor can only do so much to protect your health when you are at their office; there are other important components of good prenatal care that you will need to complete on your own.
Prenatal Care: Medical Attention
As mentioned above, all good prenatal care should include prenatal care doctor visits. Only an experienced obstetrician can provide the personalized health guidance you need for your specific pregnancy. Your doctor will evaluate your health history and your personal situation to advise the medical care necessary to keep yourself and your unborn baby safe during the nine months of your pregnancy.
Prenatal Care: Nutrition
During your prenatal care visits, your doctor should provide you a list of foods to eat and foods not to eat during your pregnancy. A healthy diet is important every day of your life, but especially when the food you eat is directly affecting the tiny life growing inside you. You’ll want to make sure to eat plenty of fruit and vegetables and eat in moderation. The well-known phrase “eating for two” is not exactly accurate; pregnant women only need about 300 more calories per day than they normally would.
You can find a full list of recommended foods and foods to avoid during pregnancy here.
Prenatal Care Vitamins
Another important part of your prenatal care will include your prenatal care vitamins. Your doctor will often let you know which prenatal care pills are advised in your situation, and you can usually obtain these prenatal care vitamins without a prescription.
You can find more information on recommended prenatal care vitamins here.
Prenatal Dental Care
Sometimes, women wonder: Is there particular prenatal dental care I need to adhere to?
In most cases, you will not need to do anything beyond the recommended daily dental hygiene routine. Make sure you brush your teeth twice a day and floss once a day. Prenatal dental care is incredibly important; any infection you may get in your mouth is more dangerous when you are pregnant, because it can be quickly affect your developing baby if it travels through your bloodstream. Taking the proper precautions and following your dental care routine will be extremely important during this time.
Finally, one of the most overlooked types of prenatal care is proper exercise. Many women, especially those in their first pregnancies, worry about the effects of exercise on their developing baby. They often under-exercise as a result. However, daily exercise will be incredibly important throughout your pregnancy and will play a huge role in your eventual delivery. Always talk to your doctor about what kind of prenatal exercise they advise in your situation but, in most cases, you should be able to continue light to vigorous exercise through most of your pregnancy — just with a few minor adjustments for comfort.
Remember, your prenatal care doctor visits and your recommended prenatal care checklist will be unique to your pregnancy. You must see an obstetrician to keep yourself and your baby healthy during this time; only they can provide the medical experience you need to find out what is best for you. To learn more about your prenatal care options, please contact a local obstetrician today.