Updated: Nov 9, 2021
Pregnancy is a process that will last for nine long months. Throughout this period, your body will undergo many changes. Some changes may benefit your growing baby, while others, can lead to a complicated pregnancy.
Complications during pregnancy may put the life of the mother and child at risk. That is why going for antenatal care or prenatal care is essential, wherein the woman goes to her obstetrician for a general consultation.
What is Antenatal Care?
Antenatal care or prenatal care is the care you get from health professionals during your pregnancy. During this time, you will be offered appointments with a midwife or a doctor that specializes in pregnancy, an obstetrician.
Good care during pregnancy is essential for the health of both the mother and the developing unborn baby. Pregnancy is a crucial time to promote health behaviors, to ensure that the baby is getting all the nutrients needed for proper growth and development.
Aims of Antenatal Care?
Good antenatal care aims to make sure that pregnancy causes no harm to the mother and to keep the developing baby healthy. Further, this is the chance of the doctor and healthcare providers to provide health education to both the mothers and their partners.
These aims are achieved by:
Following a definite plan and schedule
Identifying risk factors from previous obstetric history
Identify potential complications and risk factors
Screen for health conditions that can affect the mother and fetus
Provide health education
Why is Antenatal Care Important?
During pregnancy, proper monitoring of the mother and baby’s health is important. Here are the reasons why.
During pregnancy, getting the best nutrition for you and your unborn baby is very important. Apart from this, certain foods should be avoided like raw fish, unpasteurized cheese or milk, and undercooked eggs, which may contain enzymes and proteins that are dangerous for the developing fetus.
Also, during this time, the obstetrician will prescribe the needed vitamins and minerals for the baby’s healthy growth. The mother will benefit from supplements such as folic acid, fish oil, multivitamins, calcium, and iron.
2. Keep Track of Development
During the prenatal check-up, the doctor will keep track of the baby’s development inside the womb. The baby’s development is a good indicator of his health. Also, the doctor will recommend ultrasound scans to determine the condition, size, and environment of the fetus, making sure he is growing as expected.
Antenatal care also involves screening both the mother and baby for potential conditions that can affect pregnancy. For example, the mother should be monitored for high blood pressure and diabetes, which can complicate pregnancy and may heighten the risk of premature birth. High blood pressure can also predispose the mother to pre-eclampsia, a potentially fatal condition that can endanger the life of the mother and the developing baby.
4. Appropriate Immunization
During pregnancy, some vaccines are safe and important. One of the vaccines given to pregnant women is the tetanus toxoid vaccine, which is crucial to protect both the mother and the baby during delivery. Flu shots are also administered to pregnant women since they are more likely to get sick. Plus, they can pass the antibodies their baby needs to fight off infections while in the womb.
5. Schedule Testing
Testing is crucial during pregnancy. Doctors will base the tests ordered on the assessments they made. Some of the conditions that can be diagnosed using laboratory tests include diabetes, human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection, Hepatitis B, and other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). These tests will also determine if the mother is safe to deliver vaginally, or the doctor will need to request a C-section.
6. Antenatal Classes
During the antenatal period, the mother and her partner may also be recommended to undergo prenatal classes, particularly those who are first-time parents. This way, they can cope with the pregnancy and delivery, and prepare themselves for the demanding world as first-time parents. This can also provide an avenue to teach the mother about newborn care and breastfeeding.
7. Health Education
The antenatal period is the time for the obstetrician, midwife, or nurse to empower the mother through health education. This involves teaching the mother about the benefits and importance of breastfeeding, how to properly care for a newborn, and why it is important to safeguard their health during pregnancy. As the pregnancy reaches the third trimester, the schedule for an antenatal visit will be more frequent, allowing the healthcare provider to educate the mother on what to do and how to cope with the pregnancy.
Pregnancy is a complex phase of womanhood. There are many things to learn and do. Obstetricians play a major role in helping mothers cope and provide the care needed for a healthy pregnancy.