Every expecting mother hopes her pregnancy will end with a healthy birth. The best way of helping that happen is through early and regular prenatal care with the team at Columbus Women’s Care.
What Is Prenatal Care?
If you think you may be pregnant, that’s the time to start your prenatal care. Prenatal visits will include a physical exam, weight checks, urine tests, blood tests, ultrasounds, and general counseling to help get you through the ups and downs of pregnancy.
Prenatal care is the best way for an expectant mother to prevent complications and understand all of the important steps you need to take during pregnancy. The end goal of prenatal care is to keep both mom and baby healthy all the way to delivery and beyond.
What Is Included in Prenatal Care?
What you can expect through the duration of your prenatal care at Columbus Women’s Care can be divided into your first appointment, and then subsequent appointments.
Your first visit will be your longest one. You’ll speak with a member of our Columbus Women’s Care staff about your medical history, the medical history of the father, and your family medical history. We’ll give you a complete physical exam, and will run blood and urine tests to make sure you’re healthy. We will examine or check the following areas:
- Blood pressure
- Breathing rate
- Breast exam
- Pelvic exam
- A Pap test
- Test for STDs
- Diabetes, anemia, hepatitis B, and rubella screening
This is the time we’ll also begin counseling you on what to expect and ways to ensure the healthiest pregnancy. Topics will surely include the importance of prenatal vitamins, your diet and nutrition, and lifestyle choices while you’re pregnant. During these appointments, there will be a lot of give and take, asking and fielding questions about how things are going with your pregnancy. At your subsequent appointments, we will:
- Measure the growth of your belly
- Listen to the fetal heartbeat
- Feel your belly to check the position of the fetus
- Check for swelling
- Check your urine, blood pressure, and weight
- Provide any genetic testing you have opted to have
Why Is Prenatal Care Important?
Prenatal care can help prevent complications and help to inform the mother about important steps you can take to ensure your health and your baby’s health. It’s the best way to ensure your pregnancy progresses as smoothly as possible.
This will involve advice such as taking 400 micrograms of folic acid daily. Why? Because this reduces the risk for neural tube defects by 70 percent! This kind of education is a big part of your entire course of prenatal care at Columbus Women’s Care.
What Is Prenatal Testing?
At various milestones during your pregnancy, we’ll suggest certain prenatal tests. These will make sure you’re healthy and that your fetus is developing normally. Some of these tests can also detect potential birth defects. The tests we may perform can vary based on your age and other risk factors.
- Ultrasound: Also called a sonogram, an ultrasound uses sound waves to create a picture of your fetus and your reproductive organs. Information gained will help us predict your due date; check the placenta position; see the size, position, movement, breathing, and heart rate of the fetus; the amount of amniotic fluid in your uterus; among other things.
- Chorionic villus sampling: Also known as CVS, tests a small sample of pregnancy tissue to check for genetic abnormalities. It helps find chromosomal abnormalities, including Down syndrome. We usually conduct this test between the 9th and 12th weeks of pregnancy.
- Amniocentesis: Testing of a small sample of amniotic fluid, called amniocentesis, is over 99 percent accurate in spotting chromosome defects, such as Down syndrome. This test also detects neural tube defects. We usually perform an amniocentesis between your 15th and 20th weeks of pregnancy.
Why Do You Conduct Prenatal Genetic Testing?
We conduct prenatal genetic testing to screen for or diagnose birth defects. The goal of these tests is to provide expectant parents with information to help them make informed choices and decisions. The two types of prenatal genetic tests are screening tests and diagnostic tests.
Screening tests don’t diagnose a birth defect, but they determine if the fetus is at high risk or low risk for certain conditions. These tests include first trimester screening, cystic fibrosis carrier screening, and modified sequential screening. Diagnostic tests diagnose certain fetal conditions with a high degree of accuracy. These include amniocentesis and CVS.
When Should I Start My Prenatal Care Appointments?
You should start your prenatal visits as soon as you know you’re pregnant. Actually, if you’re planning on getting pregnant, you should come see us for “preconception” planning and care.
How Often Will I Have Prenatal Care Appointments?
The frequency of your appointments depend on how far along you are in your pregnancy and how high your risk for complications, especially with older expecting moms. For a healthy 18 to 35 year old woman, this is the general schedule:
- Every 4 to 6 weeks for the first 32 weeks
- Every 2 to 3 weeks for weeks 32 to 37
- Once a week from the 37th week until delivery
What Prenatal Vitamins Should I Take?
Eating a healthy diet is always wise, but especially when you’re eating for two. We’ll discuss your nutrition with you, and will specify prenatal vitamins to help cover any gaps in your nutrition or to help ward off certain birth defects. This is what we commonly recommend in prenatal vitamins:
- 400 micrograms (mcg) of folic acid
- 400 IU of vitamin D
- 200-300 milligrams (mg) of calcium
- 70 mg of vitamin C
- 3 mg of thiamine
- 2 mg of riboflavin
- 20 mg of niacin
- 6 mcg of vitamin B12
- 10 mg of vitamin E
- 15 mg of zinc
- 17 mg of iron
- 150 mcg of iodine