Advertisement

Why is prenatal care important?

Dr. Jeanne Morrison, PhD
Family Practitioner

Prenatal care is important to:

  • Provide education about healthy behaviors during pregnancy.
  • Monitor maternal and fetal wellbeing throughout the pregnancy.
  • Detect early signs of potential complications of the pregnancy.
  • Provide anticipatory guidance to the woman and family.

During the first prenatal visit, you can expect your doctor to:

  • Ask about your health history including diseases, operations or prior pregnancies.
  • Ask about your family's health history.
  • Do a complete physical exam, including a pelvic exam and Pap test.
  • Take your blood and urine for lab work.
  • Check your blood pressure, height and weight.
  • Calculate your due date.
  • Answer your questions.
  • At the first visit, you should ask questions and discuss any issues related to your pregnancy. Find out all you can about how to stay healthy.

Later prenatal visits will probably be shorter. Your doctor will check on your health and make sure the baby is growing as expected. Most prenatal visits will include:

  • Checking your blood pressure
  • Measuring your weight gain
  • Measuring your abdomen to check your baby's growth (once you begin to show)
  • Checking the baby's heart rate

While you're pregnant, you also will have some routine tests. Some tests are suggested for all women, such as blood work to check for anemia, your blood type, HIV and other factors. Other tests might be offered based on your age, personal or family health history, your ethnic background or the results of routine tests you have had. Visit the Healthy Pregnancy section of our web site for more details on prenatal care and tests.

This answer is based on source information from the National Women's Health Information Center.

Continue Learning about Health & Pregnancy

Getting Ready for a New Baby—Safely
Getting Ready for a New Baby—Safely
In the film Away We Go, a young couple played by Maya Rudolph and John Krasinski are expecting their first child. When they learn his parents (their o...
Read More
Can the Antidepressant Paxil Cause Birth Defects If Used During Pregnancy?
Can the Antidepressant Paxil Cause Birth Defects If Used During Pregnancy?
Is a Cryptic Pregnancy Dangerous to the Mother or the Baby?
Is a Cryptic Pregnancy Dangerous to the Mother or the Baby?
Why Do Pregnant Women Get Heartburn and Gallbladder Problems?
Why Do Pregnant Women Get Heartburn and Gallbladder Problems?

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.