Being a mother is a feeling that every woman wants to experience in her life. However, with happiness it also brings in the importance of the prenatal care to be taken of the expectant mom as well as the baby.
Prenatal care means the health care that should be given to a pregnant woman during the early stages of her pregnancy. It is recommended by many experts to start prenatal care as early as possible. Earlier the prenatal care begins, better the health of both the mother and the baby. Lack of adequate prenatal care may allow major complications, if there are any, to go undetected which may result into severe consequences for both the mother and the newborn. For example, the newborn may weigh less than normal, if the mother did not take proper diet. I hope the information has made you aware of the importance of prenatal care.
Why is Prenatal Care Important?
Prenatal care is important because it makes you aware of the various problems that can occur during pregnancy, as the two lives are at risk. If you are planning to get pregnant, you should visit a care provider and have a complete check-up. This will help you to identify, if there are any health problems and whether and how they can affect your pregnancy.
Any pregnant women with health problems like diabetes, high blood pressure or similar health problems should consult a doctor about its present status and how its severity can affect the pregnancy. Diabetes is known to cause complications during the pregnancy and can be hereditary. A pregnant woman with diabetes needs to keep her body glucose (sugar) level under control or it may cause birth defects in the child. High blood pressure during pregnancy can lead to pre-eclampsia causing life-threatening complications.
Tests to be Carried out as Prenatal Care
There are some tests that help measure current health status of the mother as well as that of the fetus. Even a simple blood test to check the hemoglobin and folic acid content of blood is useful. Following are some tests that should be carried out during pregnancy as prenatal care.
Most prenatal care providers recommend an ultrasound test for pregnant women. In this test, sound waves are used to show baby’s image on a screen. The health care provider rubs a transducer (a handheld device) over the woman’s belly or inserts a probe into her vagina. When the transducer is moved around the belly, the woman feels some pressure but no pain. This test is carried out to check the weight of the baby, to identify chances of multiple pregnancy and to detect any major birth defects or pregnancy related complications. Normally, this test is carried out, when the would-be mother is around 18-20 weeks pregnant but it can also be carried out whenever the doctor finds it necessary.
It is also called amnio and is a common prenatal test carried out during pregnancy. It is used to diagnose birth defects and genetic problems in the fetus. Genetic abnormalities are caused by defective genes passed down to the baby from his mother and father. These abnormalities may cause health problems in the baby. Women who are at risk of having a baby with genetic birth defects are recommended to undertake this test. The health care provider takes a sample of the amniotic fluid that surrounds the fetus and sends it to a laboratory to learn about the baby’s health. It is best to carry out this test after 15-20 weeks of pregnancy to avoid chances of miscarriage.
This test is necessary for women who are 35 years old or older and for women who have had children with birth defects. While undergoing this test, some women may feel pain. In some women, this test can cause cramping or spotting and the doctor will advise them to take rest.
Chorionic Villus Sampling
This test is slightly different from the above test though the conditions for it are the same as above. Women who are 35 years or older need to go through this test because there is a high risk of the baby developing Down Syndrome. The test is carried out to identify birth defects which can cause a baby to have 47 chromosomes instead of the usual number of 46.
The health care provider uses an ultrasound machine for this test. A thin tube is inserted through the vagina and cervix into the uterus or a needle is inserted through the wall of the belly into the uterus. The health care provider takes a small sample of the placental tissue (chorionic villus) surrounding the sac where the baby grows. The sample is evaluated in the laboratory. Usually this test is carried out between 10-12 weeks after the woman’s last menstrual period. If the above and other essential tests are carried out as and when the doctor advises, the pregnancy has less chances of running into complications.
Prenatal Care Facts
Nowadays, information about prenatal care is available easily in any primary health care centers, maternity hospitals and even over the internet. Essential prenatal facts are listed below:
- A doctor can identify and treat complications during the pregnancy. So regular medical check-ups are a must for the pregnant woman.
- Following prenatal nutrition guidelines also accounts as prenatal care during pregnancy. Consumption of foods rich in vitamins reduces the risk of having children with health conditions such as autism. Vitamin K is needed by human beings for blood clotting. Including foods rich in vitamin K, in a pregnant woman’s diet can prevent the newborn from rare bleeding problem called Vitamin K Deficiency Bleeding (VKDB). Vitamin D is essential for the development of bones. If the expectant mom has vitamin D deficiency, it affects the amount of calcium in the baby’s bones. According to a 2003 Cochrane Collaboration systematic review, vitamin B6 helps prevent nausea and vomiting in the early days of pregnancy.
- Exercising is another important part of prenatal care during pregnancy. As an expectant mother, you can perform regular exercises during the early phase or you can take guidance from your health care provider as to what exercises you can perform and which ones to avoid. Exercising prevents excessive weight gain which may cause health issues like backache, leg pain, high blood pressure, higher risk of cesarean delivery.
Should Prenatal Care be Extended to Dads?
Generally, would-be dads are thought to be mere observers during their partner’s pregnancy. The talk about pregnancy always involves the mother and the baby. No one ever says anything about a father’s role or his expected behavior towards his pregnant partner during the pregnancy. The expecting mom feels secure and relaxed because of her husband’s support.
These individuals are the one’s who can take good mental and physical care of their partners. A would-be dad who understands his responsibilities, helps in carrying out daily chores as well as being helpful in small ways, such as leading her towards washroom or helping her while walking or changing her sleeping position and taking her to the doctor, without fail. A responsible would-be father can be of great help to his office-going pregnant partner. He can assist her, while traveling to and from the office or he can also assist her in daily chores, especially if there are other children in the house.
The information in the above article will definitely help all expecting moms as well as women who are planning to get pregnant, to understand the need of prenatal care. Wishing you all a happy pregnancy and a healthy baby.