Pregnancy is a fascinating process, beginning with conception and ending with childbirth. A woman’s body goes through several changes that are helpful for her and the development of the foetus.
Some changes can lead to complications without proper care or monitoring during the antenatal period. Timely corrective actions during every stage help to prevent the risks and complications of pregnancy, ensuring the safe delivery of a healthy child.
Purpose of Professional Care During The Antenatal Period
The antenatal period comprises three trimesters. The care during the antenatal period in pregnancy encompasses all trimesters, from the time of conception to childbirth.
Antenatal care aims to detect and treat pre-existing health issues or those likely to develop during pregnancy. A good ANC (antenatal care) is a crucial bond between the expecting mother and the healthcare system.
Standard antenatal care involves periodic visits to the obstetrician. They will recommend routine screening and diagnostic tests to monitor the mother’s health and the development of the foetus. It helps in the timely detection of health concerns. The obstetrician will offer valuable guidance and care tips by examining various health parameters during the antenatal period.
What to Expect During Periodic Antenatal Care Visits
The selection of an expert obstetrician should be your priority as soon as you decide to have a baby. Ensure that the maternity home has all the necessary amenities and is not too far from your residence. It will reduce the stress of travelling long distances during antenatal appointments and the final stage of labour pains.
The obstetrician will conduct various tests and scans depending on the stage of the pregnancy. The following are a few objectives for frequent visits during the antenatal period.
- Understanding the history of past pregnancies, if any
- Knowing about pre-existing conditions like diabetes or hypertension
- Understanding themedications you are on.
- Tips for a healthy diet and exercise to ensure the well-being of the mother and the growing foetus
- Regular checking of weight, blood pressure, and other health parameters
- Blood tests and ultrasound scans determine the health of the baby
- Treating stress, anxiety, or depression, if you are experiencing any of these issues
You will visit the obstetrician for routine antenatal care a minimum of seven to eight times during the entire period of pregnancy. Use these visits to discuss any symptoms that may bother you, such as morning sickness, sleep disturbances, and loss of appetite with the obstetrician.
Antenatal Care During Each Trimester
Every mother must receive proper antenatal, intranatal, and postnatal care for her wellbeing and consistent growth of the baby right from the time of conception.
The type of care during each trimester of the antenatal period differs as your baby goes through different growth stages. Your doctor needs to keep track of the baby’s growth and your health for a smooth pregnancy and safe delivery.
Every antenatal visit helps your obstetrician address several health concerns to prevent likely complications. Read further to know how antenatal appointments during each trimester can benefit you and your baby.
The First Trimester
The first three months of your pregnancy is crucial for your baby’s development. Your obstetrician will probably recommend supplements to improve your body’s iron, vitamin, and folic acid levels. You may need to take these supplements even before and after conceiving.
Good nutrition through a well-balanced diet and supplements is crucial for the healthy growth of the fetus and your health. Monitoring your weight is a standard practice in antenatal visits during the initial trimesters.
An ultrasound scan will help your doctor check the development of the foetus. It will also enable them to share the likely delivery date with you. The ultrasound scanning is necessary throughout antenatal care to track the growth and other health parameters of the foetus, including heartbeats and blood pressure.
The antenatal tests to be done at this stage are very crucial to determine various parameters like blood group, Rh antibodies, haemoglobin, screening for infections, thyroid markers, diabetes screening, and thalassemia screening. The non-invasive pregnancy tests and Karyotypic screening are also done as prescribed by the doctor.
Discuss ongoing medications with your doctor. Stop or avoid certain medications during the first trimesters, as these may harm the foetus during the early growth stages.
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The Second Trimester
You will visit your obstetrician once in four weeks through the second trimester. The obstetrician uses ultrasound to assess the baby’s structural development of the genitourinary, skeletal, and digestive systems. They can detect anomalies in various organ systems, like kidneys and the heart during this antenatal period.
Blood and urine tests during this period canevaluateblood cell count, infections, blood sugar levels, and proteins. The obstetrician will also get measurements of the uterus, including the size and shape. They may suggest calcium and iron supplements in the initial phase of the second trimester if necessary.
The AFP test, triple and quadruple marker tests are indicated in this stage as recommended by the treating doctor.
The NIPT and Karyotyping tests are also done as recommended.
The Third Trimester
The third trimester is the third and last phase of the antenatal period. The fortnightly prenatal visits during the third trimester are vital as the baby moves downwards by assuming a head-down position.
The obstetrician will recommend routine checks like ultrasound, blood test, urine test, weight, and blood pressure. The ultrasound scan will help you know your baby’s measurements, heart rate, and other details.
Visits during the antenatal period of the third-trimester help doctors identify growth abnormalities or placental issues. These are vital factors for safe delivery and proper growth of the foetus. You must not miss following the appointment schedule despite your sound health.
Antenatal care refers to the periodic appointments with the obstetrician during the antenatal period in pregnancy. Visiting your obstetrician regularly during the antenatal period is significant for the healthy growth of your baby as well as your good health. Do not miss your appointments with the obstetrician, as there is no alternative to expert antenatal care.
Besides these visits, you must contact the doctor immediately if you notice any change in the foetal movements. Carry a notebook listing your queries during every visit and get answers from the doctor. Your partner should accompany you during the antenatal visits for better involvement for the entire duration of your pregnancy.
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