Regular antenatal visits are important to monitor the health of both mother and baby. The recommended schedule of prenatal visits is as follows-
As soon as you miss your period.
Week 4-28 – one visit per month
Week 28-36- one visit every two weeks
Week 36-40 – one visit every week or even more frequent
The schedule should be adhered to as things can change very fast when you are expecting. With regular visits complications can be detected and treated early.
Conditions which require more frequent visits to the doctor are-
Mother’s age- if you are in late 30’s or early 40’s, you may need more frequent visits
Health problems- If you have diabetes, high BP, anemia, obesity, asthma or any other pre existing health issues
Health problems that develop during pregnancy- If you develop high BP, gestational diabetes, anemia, preterm labour or any other complication, you may require more than average visits.
What is the aim of prenatal care and why is it important?
The aim of prenatal care is history and examination, testing and treatment, education and planning.
When you miss your period, we need to confirm the pregnancy and determine its location whether it is intrauterine and not ectopic.
We also need to date the pregnancy by ultrasound and start medication which prevents neural tube and spinal defects in the baby.
Basic investigations are done to rule out major disorders.
Thyroid test is done as it needs stringent control right from first trimester for proper development of baby.
Later in second trimester, we check the vitals of mother and growth of baby. Anomalies in baby are ruled out by specialised tests like dual test(blood test) and special scans.
Later in third trimester, we need to discuss the delivery plan. Couple counselling regarding what to expect and how to deal with the process is done. Lactational counselling is done to make you physically and mentally prepared to feed your baby.
Post delivery care is equally important:
Care does not end with delivery. It should continue in your post partum phase also to discuss contraception options. Also a post partum program to help you loose all the pregnancy weight, stay active and fit is necessary to bring life back to normal. Perineum is the most traumatised area, so perineal exercises to heal it are taught.
You need supplements after delivery to help you tide over your health issues, to sustain and increase breastfeeding, to prevent anemia and bone loss.
In nutshell, for a healthy baby and mother throughout pregnancy, delivery and post partum period, regular visits to your gynaecologist are necessary and give a positive outcome. A holistic approach can make the whole experience blissful.