Prenatal care consists of the health care you receive while you are pregnant to keep you and your baby healthy throughout your pregnancy. At each appointment, your prenatal care provider will track the development of your baby, how you are feeling, and the way your body is responding to the pregnancy. These visits are an ideal time to ask your provider any questions about the pregnancy or go over habits you can build to help promote a healthy pregnancy – including foods and activities you should avoid while pregnant. Be sure to follow your provider’s advice rather than relying on popular pregnancy myths.
Attending each prenatal care appointment can help support a full-term pregnancy and identify any potential health problems for you or your baby. That’s why it’s vital to attend all appointments, even if you’re feeling perfectly fine. When problems are found early, they can usually be treated early, too. Babies whose mothers did not get prenatal care are three times more likely to have a low birth weight and have a mortality rate five times higher than babies whose mothers did get care.
Prenatal care appointments typically follow this schedule:
Your prenatal care provider may want to see you more frequently if your pregnancy is considered high risk or if you are experiencing complications.
Your first prenatal care visit is typically the longest one you’ll have. You can expect your provider to:
The rest of your prenatal care appointments usually don’t last as long as the first one. After your initial meeting with your prenatal care provider, most appointments will include:
At later appointments, you can also expect to discuss your baby’s movement, get an ultrasound (typically two during your pregnancy), receive a Tdap vaccination between 27 and 36 weeks, and have pelvic examinations to check for changes in your cervix as you get closer to your due date.
By getting early and regular prenatal care, you’re helping to support a healthy pregnancy – and a healthy life for your baby.