Healthy pregnancies can help lead to healthy deliveries and healthy babies. That’s why it’s important for pregnant women to take care of themselves during pregnancy by visiting their doctors regularly. For some, prenatal care may involve making lifestyle changes, such as quitting smoking.
Do I need prenatal care?
If you are pregnant, you definitely need prenatal care. Why? Women who don’t receive prenatal care are more likely to have low-birth weight babies, which puts babies at greater risk of for the following:
- Breathing problems, such as respiratory distress syndrome
- Heart problems, such as patent ductus arteriosus (PDA)
- Gastrointestinal problems, such as necrotizing entercolits (a condition that can interfere with your baby’s ability to get nutrition)
- Bleeding in the brain
A low birth weight may also affect your child later in life. Down the line, low birth weight could lead to high blood pressure and diabetes.
And prenatal care isn’t just about your baby. Women who don’t have prenatal care are more likely to die during pregnancy and delivery or right after delivery.
Prenatal Care Services
Prenatal care should begin immediately after you find out you are pregnant. Start prenatal care by doing the following:
- Make an appointment with your doctor or an OB-GYN.
- Stop smoking. Smoking has been shown to cause health problems for both mothers and babies.
- Stop drinking. It’s still unclear how much alcohol is too much for pregnant women, so it’s a good idea to stop entirely until you talk to your doctor.
OB-GYNs provide expert prenatal care to help you during your pregnancy, which usually includes the following:
- Pregnancy confirmation
- Answers to common pregnancy complaints and questions
- Estimation of fetal weight
- Prenatal nutrition guidance
- Recommendations to help you stop smoking
- Assessment of current medication use
- Treatment for conditions such as hyperemesis gravidarum (extreme, persistent vomiting) and pruritic urticarial papules and plaques of pregnancy (PUPPP), an extremely itchy, hive-like rash that affects some women during pregnancy
- Prenatal testing, if necessary (including ultrasound)
- Weight management support
They can also refer you to other specialists as needed:
- Psychiatrists and psychologists with expertise in caring for women before, during and after pregnancy provide psychological support for depression, mood disorders and other mental health issues. These doctors can also help with substance abuse issues.
- Maternal-fetal medicine specialists who have expertise in caring for high-risk pregnancies (this includes women with gestational diabetes, endometriosis and women having twins or triplets).
How often should I see an OB-GYN during pregnancy?
For healthy pregnancies, prenatal appointments are typically scheduled at the following intervals:
- Every four to six weeks until 28 weeks
- Every two to four weeks from 28 to 36 weeks
- Weekly from 36 weeks to delivery
Women facing high-risk pregnancies, will most likely see their doctors more often.
Why choose Rush for prenatal care?
- OB-GYNs at Rush deliver babies at the new and spacious Rush Family Birth Center. All services are located on one floor, including obstetric operating rooms (where c-sections are performed) and the NICU. So when seconds count most, mothers and babies can get the care they need.
- Maternal-fetal medicine physicians at Rush have expertise in caring for pregnant women facing high-risk pregnancies and delivering their babies. They often collaborate with pediatric specialists, geneticists and social workers in the Fetal and Neonatal Medicine Program.
- As a level III neonatal intensive care unit, the NICU at Rush provides the highest level of care available for premature babies and babies at risk.