When you are pregnant, you will need to have regular visits to the doctor to ensure you and your baby are healthy. This method of follow-up is called antenatal or prenatal care.
Antenatal or Prenatal care is the care provided to you while you are pregnant to help you have a healthy pregnancy. For a healthy non-complicated pregnancy, one woman will have a total of eight visits. Among those visits, the most important one is the first one, it’s also the one that will take the longest. During this particular visit, your doctor will run tests on the mom-to-be as well as the baby and will try to take a detailed history. He / She will also give supplements that will be essential for a healthy pregnancy.
After this first visit, the next ones will be follow-up. The doctor will already have your case file so he/she will just order basic tests and make sure that the pregnancy is progressing smoothly.
Your doctor will perform regular checkups like urine & blood tests and ultrasounds, give you helpful tips for a healthy pregnancy like what to eat, and discuss your options for childbirth. The appointments will be scheduled, so you don’t need to wonder when the right time should be. Make sure that you go to every appointment so there aren’t any complications with your pregnancy, the baby, and yourself.
It is very important to be proactive when it comes to your and your baby’s health. The importance of prenatal care is immense and is required throughout your nine months of pregnancy. With prenatal care, you can reduce your risk of problems and get advice on anything you are curious about regarding your pregnancy.
For women who are planning to have their first pregnancy after the age of 35, it’s important to note that they should seek healthcare services before they get pregnant. It’s not impossible to get pregnant at this age but there might be risks associated with the pregnancy and it’s always better to be informed and prepared.
Another important part of Antenatal care is that for women who are experiencing domestic violence it might be the only chance they get to ask for help. It’s also the healthcare provider’s duty to recognize such women and to advise them on their situation.
After you give birth, you don’t just get sent home and resume life as usual. It’s a whole new world now that you have a baby (or 2+) to take care of. Before you leave the hospital, you will receive another form of care called postnatal care.
Like antenatal care is for women who are pregnant or planning on getting pregnant there’s also another form of care for women who have just given birth which is known as Postnatal care.
Postnatal care is the care provided to you after birth for up to 6 weeks. The first few hours or days after birth is the riskiest time for you and your baby. This is why ideally both mother and baby are supposed to stay in the hospital for 24hrs after giving birth. Your doctor will perform a complete examination of your baby right after birth and check again before you leave the hospital. Only after your doctor clears both you and your baby, can you go. If there is an issue with either one of you, you would be asked to stay longer for observation and more tests.
Once you have settled from giving birth, your doctor will provide you with the necessary information you need for breastfeeding, cleaning your baby’s skin, umbilical cord care, and keeping your baby warm. Postnatal care is even more essential for babies born too early, too small, have infections, or were suffocated during delivery. Make sure to go to all of your postnatal visits to avoid complications.
Different topics need to be discussed with the mother and close relatives, such as:
- The importance of having someone nearby for the first 1-2 days
- Eating more healthier foods
- Getting more rest
- Avoiding physical labor
- Discussing the danger signs for her and the baby
- Personal hygiene
- Normal postpartum bleeding
- When to resume sexual intercourse
- Infant feeding
In addition to how to care for your baby, you will also be informed about danger signs. For the mother, these include increased vaginal bleeding, difficulty breathing, fever, severe headaches with blurred vision, problem urination, and more. If you experience these symptoms, you need to go to the hospital and get tested immediately. With the right tools and patience, you will take care of and healthily raise your baby.
For these and many reasons ante/postnatal care are integral part of pregnancy and if you are planning on getting pregnant or are already pregnant or have recently given birth make sure you follow through on these care provisions.