Expecting a baby? Don’t miss your prenatal checkups! Here are some reasons why they’re important.
Medical care you receive during pregnancy, or prenatal care, is important to your health and the health of your baby.
For most women, prenatal checkups are needed:
If your pregnancy is considered high-risk because of your age, your weight, health conditions, or complications from an earlier pregnancy, you may need checkups more often. Talk to your doctor about what might be right for you.
At your first prenatal checkup, your doctor or prenatal care provider might give you a physical exam, a breast exam, and a pelvic exam with a pap test. Your doctor might also draw blood for testing and discuss your lifestyle habits such as your diet, exercise level, and sexual activity. Your doctor may even tell you your baby’s due date! During later checkups, your doctor may check your baby’s heart rate and may measure your waist to check your baby’s growth.
Routine checkups with your doctor can help ensure that you have a safe pregnancy and that your baby is growing at a healthy rate. Here are some more reasons why prenatal checkups are important.
During prenatal checkups, your doctor will perform tests and screenings. Some tests and screenings are routine (a regular part of prenatal care) and some may be specific to you.
Tests help your doctor monitor your health and your baby’s, and can check for anemia, gestational diabetes, Down syndrome, and HIV and other infections.
Screenings check for possible health risks that might affect you or your baby. They can rule out conditions or help your doctor understand if more tests are needed.
If you or your baby has, or is at risk for, a health condition, your doctor will be better able to diagnose, treat, and possibly cure the condition if it is caught early.
Regular checkups help your doctor spot any changes that might require more testing and catch problems in early stages, when they can best be treated.
Whether you are pregnant for the first time or have been pregnant before, expecting a new baby can raise a lot of questions. If you have questions, your prenatal checkups are good times to ask them! If it helps, write down your questions before your checkup begins.
Sharing your concerns with your doctor and getting the information you need will help you manage any stress you may be having and make you feel more confident about becoming a parent.
During your checkups, your doctor can help you make important decisions about what is right for you and your baby and get ready for a healthy delivery. Together, you may discuss where you’ll deliver your baby, what to expect, and how to be prepared so that you can give your baby his or her healthiest start to life.
If you need prenatal care but think you can’t afford it, you may be able to get help paying for medical care during your pregnancy. Call 1-800-311-BABY to speak with your local Health Department and find out what resources are available to you.
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This health information or program is for educational purposes only and not intended to treat, diagnose, or act as a substitute for medical advice from your provider. Consult your healthcare provider and always follow your healthcare provider’s instructions.
“Prenatal care and tests,” Womenshealth.gov. September 27, 2010.
“Prenatal care fact sheet,” Womenshealth.gov. July 16, 2012.
“What happens during prenatal visits?,” National Institutes of Health. July 15, 2013.
“What to expect at your prenatal visits,” Babycenter.com. Accessed June 15, 2016.