When Should I Begin Prenatal Care?
Prenatal Care: Pregnancy and prenatal care go hand-in-hand. Prenatal visits are an important part of pregnancy to help ensure the health and safety of both mom and baby and should start as soon as possible.
First, you will want to confirm your pregnancy. Prestonwood Pregnancy Center can help by offering safe and confidential pregnancy testing at no cost to you. To schedule your appointment, click here.
As soon the pregnancy is confirmed, you should call to schedule an appointment with an OB-GYN. Most OB-GYNs prefer to begin seeing a woman for her pregnancy care between 8 weeks and 10 weeks from her last menstrual period.
If you are uninsured, then you need to apply for Medicaid. Prestonwood Pregnancy Center can provide you with a report of pregnancy, a form required to apply for these health benefits. You need to apply for Medicaid assistance immediately as it can take several weeks to be approved. A pregnant woman’s immediate action will help assure prenatal care will begin at the appropriate time. For more information on Medicaid click here.
What happens next?
Your initial visit with your doctor will most likely be the longest. You should arrive prepared with vital dates and information regarding your health history, and a list of questions you may have about your pregnancy, prenatal care, and birth options.
Your doctor will ask your medical history including:
- Medical and/or psychosocial problems
- Blood pressure, height, and weight
- Breast and cervical exam
- Date of you last menstrual period (an accurate LMP is helpful in determining gestational age and a due date)
- Birth control methods
- Pregnancy history including birth, miscarriages and or abortions
- Medications (prescription and over the counter)
- Medication allergies
- Family medical history
Your healthcare provider will also perform a physical exam which will include a pap smear, cervical cultures, and an ultrasound and some point.
Blood will be drawn and several lab tests will also be done including:
- Rh Factor and blood type (if Rh negative, rescreen at 26-28 weeks)
- Rubella screen
- Varicella or history of chicken pox, rubella, and hepatitis vaccine
- Cystic Fibrosis screen
- Hepatitis B surface antigen
- Tay Sach’s screen
- Sickle Cell prep screen
- HIV test
- Hemoglobin and Hematocrit levels
- Specific tests depending on the patient, such as testing for tuberculosis and Hepatitis C
Your healthcare provider will probably want to discuss the following:
- Recommendations regarding dental care, cats, raw meat, fish, and gardening
- Fevers and medications
- Environmental hazards
- Travel limitations
- Miscarriage precautions
- Prenatal vitamins
- Diet, exercise, nutrition, weight gain
- Physician/midwife rotation in the office
Possible questions to ask your healthcare provider:
- Is there a nurse line that I can call if I have questions?
- What do I do if I experience bleeding or cramping?
- What is considered an emergency?
- Will I need to change habits regarding nutrition, exercise, sex, etc.?
- What will my prenatal visits schedule look like?
- What types of tests are recommended and when are they to be done, and do I have a choice regarding these tests?
You may want to discuss labor and delivery issues with your doctor now to help reduce the chance of surprises when the time for labor arrives.
Some question you may want to ask:
- What situations would require a c-section?
- What situation would require an episiotomy?
- How long past my due date will I be allowed to go before intervening?
- What is your policy on inducing labor?
For a healthy pregnancy your doctor will want to see you on a similar recommended schedule:
- Weeks 4 to 28: 1 prenatal visit a month.
- Weeks 28 to 36: 1 prenatal visit every 2 weeks.
- Weeks 36 to 40: 1 prenatal visit every week.
Prenatal care is an important part of a healthy pregnancy. If you have questions or need assistance with accessing medical resources please call us at 972-386-4015.