Early prenatal care now for a Stronger Baby later
Having a healthy pregnancy is one of the best ways to promote a healthy birth. Prenatal care is the medical care you receive while you are pregnant to make sure you and your baby are both in good health. While not all pregnancy complications can be prevented, we know that women can increase their chances of having a healthy baby by managing health conditions and detecting problems early. Infant mortality is higher for infants born with inadequate prenatal care, and in 2016, only 55% of women in Knox County received adequate prenatal care. Prenatal care should begin in the first trimester of your pregnancy and continue with regular visits throughout your pregnancy as recommended by your physician.
When should I have my first prenatal care visit?
As soon as you suspect you’re pregnant, you should schedule your first prenatal appointment.
Do I need to go to every prenatal appointment?
Yes. Prenatal care can help keep you and your baby healthy. Doctors can spot health problems early when they see mothers regularly. Early treatment can cure many problems and prevent others. Doctors can also talk to pregnant women about the things they can do to give their unborn babies a healthy start to life.
What happens at a prenatal visit?
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; and
- 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.
What should I ask my doctor about?
If you have had a preterm baby in the past, let your doctor know right away. It is also important that you discuss any sexually transmitted infections, chronic conditions (such as high blood pressure or diabetes), and habits such as smoking, drinking or drug use. All of these factors can increase the chances of preterm birth and other poor birth outcomes – but your doctor can help you decrease your risk.