If you’re thinking about getting pregnant, or are already pregnant, you’ve probably put serious thought into how your life will be once your baby arrives. You may have be thinking about how you can make sure your home is safe and nurturing, the ways your life will change once your child is born, and how to keep your baby healthy and happy.
All of the above are important, but when it comes to pregnancy, you need to start planning sooner than your baby’s arrival. You also need to consider what happens before you enter the delivery room.
Prenatal care is integral to ensuring a safe and healthy delivery. In fact, babies of mothers who do not receive prenatal care are three times more likely to be born with a low birth weight, and five times more likely to die before or during birth. Use this blog as a guide to the what, why, when, and how of prenatal care.
Are you pregnant or think you could be? Come see the team at Casa de Salud. Afshin Akhavan, DO and the rest of our team will work with you to make sure your pregnancy journey is healthy and fruitful. Dr. Akhavan is a leading family physician in the Los Angeles area. He looks to empower his patients by considering their overall health and providing them with the education and tools they need to maximize their health.
Prenatal care and why it is important
Prenatal care is when a pregnant woman gets checkups from a doctor, nurse, or midwife throughout their pregnancy. Regular check-ups help the doctor keep tabs on the health of the mother and her unborn baby. According to the National Institutes of Health, prenatal care can help prevent complications before and during childbirth. Additionally, prenatal visits can inform women about important steps they can take to protect their infant and ensure a healthy pregnancy.
When should you start prenatal care?
Prenatal care can actually start before pregnancy. Preconception health is the term used to describe the process of preparing your body for pregnancy. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends giving your body up to three months to prepare. During this time, you should begin taking folic acid, taper-off your alcohol usage and smoking, and talk to your doctor about any medical conditions or medication you’re taking.
During pregnancy, Dr. Akhavan recommends the following schedule for prenatal care:
- Once a month between weeks 4 and 28
- Twice a month between weeks 28 and 36
- Every week from week 36 to delivery
Women who are over 35 or have a high risk pregnancy may need more frequent care.
What happens during the first prenatal visit?
During your first prenatal exam, Dr. Akhavan will collect information and perform tests that will help shape your treatment and future visits. Expect him to:
- Ask about health and family history including operations, diseases, or prior pregnancies
- Perform a physical exam, including a pelvic exam and Pap smear
- Take blood and urine samples
- Record blood pressure, height, and weight
- Estimate the due date
- Answer any questions
Conversation is a key part of any prenatal visit. Let the doctor know how you’re feeling and don’t be afraid to ask questions, even if they seem silly.
What happens during other prenatal visits?
After your initial exam, which may last up to 90 minutes, most visits are quicker and more routine. Dr. Akhavan will always assess your health and make sure your baby is developing properly. Almost every prenatal visit will include the following:
- Monitor blood pressure
- Measure weight gain
- Measure the abdomen
- Monitor the baby's heart rate
Other tests may be included based on your risk factors, which may vary based on your ethnic background, health history, and age. You may also undergo an ultrasound during a prenatal exam.
Are you pregnant or want to learn more about how prenatal care help you have a successful pregnancy? Come see Dr. Akhavan and the team at Casa de Salud. Contact one of our Los Angeles offices by calling or using the online booking tool today.