Prenatal Care Health Information

Almost 4 million women give birth every year in the United States. Unfortunately, nearly one third of them will have some kind of pregnancy-related complication. This can lead to potentially serious problems for both the mother and her baby. That is why it is important for you to begin care for yourself and your unborn child as soon as you know, or even "think" you may be pregnant. This care during pregnancy is referred to as prenatal care. Most pregnancy complications can be avoided if care begins early. We're here to help you have a healthy pregnancy.

When Planning a Pregnancy

Consider visiting your health care provider to talk about your plans to become pregnant. Make sure you are in good health so that you can have a healthy pregnancy.

Prenatal Care Recommended During Pregnancy

Prenatal care generally consists of establishing a relationship with a doctor or midlevel provider (nurse practitioner, nurse midwife, or physician assistant). This health care provider will follow you through your pregnancy. A medical history is taken, your blood pressure is checked, and your weight is tracked. In addition, a pelvic exam is done and blood and urine tests are performed. Visits with your provider are usually scheduled as follows:

  • Monthly visits with your doctor during the first two trimesters (weeks 1 through 28) of your pregnancy
  • Biweekly (every other week) visits with your doctor week 28 to week 30 of pregnancy
  • Weekly visits with your doctor after week 36 (most women deliver between the 38th and 40th week)

In some pregnancies the doctor will have an ultrasound exam performed during the pregnancy. The ultrasound is done to check on the health of the baby. An ultrasound does not pose any danger to the mom or baby. A smooth round probe is passed over the mom's tummy, sending sound waves through the tissue. As the sound waves bounce off the tissue, it allows a computer to create an image of the unborn child on a computer screen. This allows the doctor to see how the baby is forming. It can also help find how far along you are in your pregnancy. Often the ultrasound can help the doctor determine the baby's sex. Ultrasound is also used to help identify any problems that may exist with the umbilical cord or the amniotic fluid that surrounds the baby inside the uterus.

To learn more about healthy pregnancy, go to: The March of Dimes