Having a baby is a joyous time, but it is also filled with an overwhelming number of decisions and new information. Prenatal care is just one of the many things you need to consider when planning to become pregnant or once you are pregnant.
Prenatal care is defined as the care you receive while you are pregnant, prior to the delivery of your baby. This type of care is to keep yourself and your baby healthy. The earlier pregnancy is detected the earlier prenatal care can begin, meaning if you think you may be pregnant, see your doctor as soon as possible.
Prenatal care visits can be one-on-one with your provider or done in groups. Both types of visits are equally good for caring for you and your baby before giving birth. Prenatal care can be done with a family physician, OB/Gyn physician, maternal fetal medicine physician, or nurse midwife.
Regular prenatal care helps prevent pregnancy and birth complications and helps providers better prepare for potential birth complications. It is also a time when a mother and provider can create a birth plan, which documents a mother’s preferences during labor like pain medication, lighting, people present during delivery, music, and decisions regarding newborn procedures and vaccinations.
What to Expect During Prenatal Care Visits
According to the March of Dimes, “Prenatal visits to a health care provider usually include a physical exam, weight checks, listening to baby’s heartbeat, and sometimes includes a urine sample. Depending on the stage of the pregnancy, health care providers may also do blood tests and imaging tests, such as ultrasound exams. These visits also include discussions about the mother's health, the fetus's health, and any questions about the pregnancy.” These visits are essential for detecting any health issues early, reducing the risk of pregnancy complications, and reducing the fetus’s and infant’s risk of complications.
These visits are also an important time for you to be open and honest with your physician or midwife. Come prepared with any questions or concerns you may have. Remember, your prenatal care provider is there to help and relieve any fears or worry or anxiety you may have.
How Often Should I See My Provider for Prenatal Care?
We recommend a visit in the clinic to confirm your pregnancy shortly after your missed period, or if you suspect you may be pregnant. This may be as early as 5-6 weeks.
Next visits are typically around 10-12 weeks gestation and continue until delivery of your baby.
Your prenatal care provider will determine the frequency of your prenatal care visits, but in general, for low risk/healthy pregnancies you can expect:
- About once each month for weeks 6 through 28
- Twice a month for weeks 28 through 36
- Weekly for weeks 36 to birth
Choosing a Prenatal Care Provider
Many family doctors can often provide all of your prenatal care, deliver your baby, and care for both you and your baby after delivery. In some higher risk situations, care may be managed by an OB/Gyn, or co-managed with an OB/Gyn or Maternal Fetal Medicine specialist. Begin this discussion with your primary care physician to determine the best steps in selecting a prenatal care provider.
Our doctors deliver at North Memorial Medical Center, and Maple Grove Hospital.