What is prenatal care?
Prenatal care refers to the healthcare received from a doctor, nurse, or midwife while a person is pregnant. The goal of prenatal care is to keep the mother and baby healthy, and it can be started as soon as a person learns they are pregnant.
A general schedule for prenatal care appointments is:
- every four to six weeks for the first 32 weeks
- every two to three weeks for weeks 32-37
- every week from week 37 to delivery
However, people with high-risk pregnancies may need to come in for appointments more often.
Why is prenatal care important?
Prenatal care is important because it allows the healthcare professional to monitor the baby’s development and perform routine testing to help prevent any potential problems. Prenatal care can also help provide pregnant people with the information they need to protect their babies and promote a healthy pregnancy.
Through prenatal care, mothers can:
- reduce the risk of complications for the fetus
- reduce the risk of pregnancy complications
- ensure they take pregnancy-safe medications
During prenatal care visits, a healthcare provider may also order blood or imaging tests (e.g., ultrasound) to ensure the mother and baby are healthy.