About Antenatal Care
It is very important to start antenatal care as soon as you find out you’re expecting. Most doctors advice that the first antenatal visit should be at 6 weeks. You will need to undergo a variety of tests that include ultrasound scans and blood tests. They check for any risks or problems that may harm the baby or the mother during pregnancy and after birth. The visits that follow involve maintaining a healthy pregnancy.
What It Involves
The first visit involves evaluating your overall health. The doctor, GP, or midwife might inquire about your family and medical history. Illnesses such as diabetes and genetic disorders are important to reveal as they could affect you or the baby. He/she may also ask about prior pregnancies, operations, or illnesses. You will further need to disclose information about drug use, allergies (particularly to medication), and any existing illnesses.
Most doctors at this point calculate your pregnancy period and EDD (Estimated Date of Delivery). The calculation involves knowing when you last had your period. However, if this information is not known to you, you can always have an ultrasound to determine your week of pregnancy.
Next, a series of tests and checks will reveal the following:
- Blood group- This helps to determine your blood group and detect its Rh compatibility
- Blood pressure– To evaluate your risk to hypertension and preeclampsia
- Height– This might be a risk for preterm labour
- Weight- To ensure you are gaining weight steadily, and not to much
- Anaemia-This if not managed can also lead to low birth weight and preterm birth
- UTI– This if untreated can lead to low birth weight and preterm birth
- STDs-This allows early treatment and management to protect the baby from infections
- Rubella immunity– Rubella is a virus that can be dangerous to the baby so it’s important to get vaccinated before pregnancy.
You should have a total of three antenatal visits during the first two trimesters and about 7 during the third and last trimester. Visits after your first appointment involve checking the baby’s growth and development, as well as your overall health. The third trimester is extremely crucial. It is the time to closely check and assess how the baby is developing. It also helps you get prepared and ready for birth.
Importance of Antenatal Care
- It ensures that both the mother and baby stay healthy throughout the pregnancy
- It helps identify, prevent and reduce any potential threats such as miscarriages, Mother-To-Child Transmission (MTCT) of HIV, low birth weight, neonatal infections, and birth defects.
- It keeps the mother informed about her pregnancy
- It helps in maintaining a proper dietary lifestyle
Antenatal care is important for every expectant woman. It is always advisable to have your partner with you for moral and emotional support. Please ensure to ask as many questions as possible during your visits.
#Please note that development differs from one child to another
# Content intended for educational purposes only, and should not be substituted for medical advice from your doctor.
Last reviewed January 2019