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Prenatal Care

Goals of prenatal care are focused on concluding pregnancy with a healthy mother and baby and are expanding impressively. In 1989, the Expert Panel on the Content of Prenatal Care of the Public Health Service of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services proposed the following objectives for prenatal care:

For the pregnant woman:

For the fetus and the infant:

For the family:

Prenatal Visits

Ideally, prenatal care should begin prior to conception, however not all pregnancies are planned, not all providers educate women about the importance of the pre-pregnancy visit.

First Prenatal Visit
As soon as you think you are pregnancy you should visit pregnancy care provider. It should occur in the first 12 weeks or pregnancy. Optimally it should take place when you are about 6 to 8 weeks pregnant. If you havenít had a preconception visit, the first pregnancy visit will be lengthy, else it should b fairly short. It will involve updating your health history, reviewing the laboratory tests, and redoing parts of the physical examination. It will include an abdominal exam and a pelvic assessment, depending on how pregnant you are. Update of you health history will cover any early pregnancy danger signs that may have had, such as bleeding and cramping, as well as normal but troublesome symptoms, such as nausea, vomiting, and headache.

Abdominal and pelvic examinations are to measure your uterus and compare its size to the size expected for how pregnant you are, based on your last menstrual period. If you are less than 12 weeks pregnant, your uterus is still too small to be felt in the abdomen, so it can only be measured by feeling it through the vagina. Doctor will check your weight, urine and blood pressure, as they will on all prenatal visits.

One of the goals of the first prenatal visit is the determine your due date, so you know how pregnancy you are and approximately when you can expect to deliver. This expected date of delivery is a midpoint of a 4-week period. The baby can be born any time two weeks before or two weeks after this date. The first prenatal visit is the time for you to ask all the many questions that have come to your mind since you discovered that you are pregnant.

Subsequent Prenatal Visits
On every prenatal visit your physician will review how are you feeling and whether you have experience any danger signs. You weight will also be taken on every visit. You blood pressure will be taken. The growth of your uterus will be assessed abdominally. From about 20 weeks of pregnancy, the fetal heart can be heard with a special stethoscope called fetoscope and will be listened at each prenatal visit. Many doctors today use a Doptone or Doppler to hear the fetal heart. Vaginal examinations generally arenít necessary during the normal course of pregnancy, except to take a specimen for screening of when infection is suspected, or if you show signs of premature of preterm labor.

In prenatal visits, you should always ask all the questions you may have in your mind. Nothing should be considered as taboo or silly.

Prenatal Visits Timings
For women having their first baby, the following schedule is suggested:

Preconception visit: in the year preceding pregnancy
First prenatal visit: 6th to 8th weeks
Second prenatal visit: 10th to 12th weeks
Third prenatal visit: 14th to 16th weeks
Fourth prenatal visit: 24th to 27th weeks
Fifth prenatal visit: 32nd week
Sixth prenatal visit: 36th week
Seventh prenatal visit: 38th week
Eighth prenatal visit: 40th week
Ninth prenatal visit: 41st week
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