Children are a wonder and the miracle of pregnancy can be an experience unlike any other. But taking care of baby begins way before birth.
At Project DOC, we have built relationships with a network of health systems, doctors, nurses, promotoras (Hispanic healthcare educators), community health organizations, and other parties across public and private industries to ensure the medical needs of expecting mothers are met – and a healthy birth begins with prenatal care.
What is prenatal care?
Prenatal care is important to your health, the baby’s, and the entire pregnancy. For new mothers who might not be familiar with prenatal care, this is simply the health care you receive before giving birth. The goal of prenatal care is to provide pregnant women with the medical check-ups and support needed to make sure that mama and baby stay healthy.
During prenatal care, the expecting mother will have regularly scheduled doctor’s appointments. At the first prenatal visit, you can expect:
- Your doctor to ask about your health history
- Your doctor to ask about your family’s health history
- A physical and pelvic exam
- A pap test
- Lab work including blood and urine tests
- Your doctor to check your blood pressure
- The opportunity to ask any questions
Follow up prenatal care visits to the doctor can include:
- Weight checks
- Imaging tests (ex. ultrasound exams)
- Testing for diabetes of pregnancy or other pregnancy-related conditions
- Checking baby’s heart rate
Expecting mothers will also learn about their own health and that of her child’s, while also receiving medical advice regarding nutrition and general health information. Vitamins and medications will also be prescribed as needed.
According to the U.S. Office of Women’s Health, children of mothers who DO NOT receive prenatal care are three times more likely to have a low birth weight and five times more likely to die than those born to mothers who DID get care.
The truth is that your child’s life can depend on prenatal care. Please seek out medical care if you believe you are pregnant.
5 Amazing Benefits of Prenatal Care
Prenatal care gives your baby a healthy start to life and helps to keep your pregnancy running as smoothly as possible. Here are 5 amazing benefits of prenatal care:
- Reduces the risk of pregnancy complications. Because prenatal care involves multiple visits with your obstetrician, it allows for more opportunities for your doctor to notice any potential issues in your pregnancy. Since you will also be tested for pregnancy-related health issues like gestational diabetes, your doctor can help develop a plan to help you through any complications that arise.
- Reduces the risk of birth defects. Keeping an expecting mother informed is one of the most important aspects of prenatal care. By understanding what behaviors to avoid – like drinking alcohol and smoking – an expecting mother can make the best decisions for her health and that of her child’s, reducing the risks of birth defects and keeping the baby on track for proper development. Additionally, prenatal care allows for the testing of genetic abnormalities that can affect you and your child’s future.
- Keeps you – the mother – healthy. Pregnancy can place an emotional and physical toll on a pregnant woman. Prenatal care and visits with an obstetrician and other medical care providers can help to provide the mother with the support she needs to have a successful and healthy pregnancy. As an expecting mother, you should recognize that your diet, as well as your emotional health, can have negative effects on the health of your baby. Stay healthy so your child stays healthy, too.
- Doctors will give you the nutritional advice and vitamins you need. Diet, exercise, and general nutrition all play a major role in the development of a fetus. During prenatal care, your obstetrician will recommend/provide you with the proper vitamins and nutritional advice needed to keep your baby growing. Additionally, your doctor will be able to tell you which medications you need to avoid during pregnancy; certain supplements and medications can hurt the fetus. Don’t take the risk. Talk with a doctor immediately after finding out you are pregnant.
- Know what to expect about labor and delivery. Many mothers – especially first time mothers – can be a bit nervous about the actual labor and delivery process. Prenatal visits to your doctor provide you the opportunity to discuss the labor and delivery process, learn how your specific labor plan may work, as well as give you the opportunity to ask questions. For first time mothers, being aware of how their delivery will go can help to relieve their stress, in turn, helping them to focus their attention on their health and that of their child’s.
How often should I visit my doctor during prenatal care?
If you believe you might be pregnant, please do not hesitate to seek out medical care immediately. Your health and that of your child’s is dependent on you receiving the medical attention you need to have a healthy pregnancy.
Should you begin to receive prenatal care in a timely manner, you should visit your doctor:
- Weeks 4 to 28: 1 prenatal visit a month
- Weeks 28 to 36: Twice a month or 1 prenatal visit every 2 weeks
- Weeks 36 to 40: Weekly
If you have a pre-existing medical condition or have a high-risk pregnancy as per your family medical history, then it will be necessary to have more appointments.
Project DOC is dedicated to providing expecting mothers with the support and services they need to have a healthy baby.
Project DOC will be hosting a free community screening event at:
Location: Brownsville Public Library Southmost Branch
Address: 4230 Southmost Blvd., Brownsville, TX 78521
Time: 4:30pm – 6:30 p.m.
Date: October 25th
Expectant mothers are encouraged to attend this FREE health screening event that includes:
– Diabetes screening
– Blood pressure screening
– Weight screening
– Nutrition counseling
– Much more!