Prenatal care is important to ensure the health of you and your baby before the baby is born. For example, your plans should include regular checkups; eating a diet rich in folic acid, iron, and calcium; staying as active as possible; and avoiding drugs, alcohol, and smoking. A typical pregnancy care schedule includes monthly visits, with visits becoming more frequent as your delivery time approaches.
Prenatal care means healthcare during your pregnancy before your baby is born. Take care of yourself and your baby by:
- Getting early prenatal care (beginning the first trimester). If you know you are pregnant, or think you might be pregnant, call your healthcare provider as soon as possible and schedule a visit.
- Getting regular prenatal care. Follow your healthcare provider's schedule for visits, and don't miss appointments.
- Doing everything you can to keep yourself and your baby healthy during your pregnancy.
Prenatal care is important, because, by seeing you regularly, your healthcare provider has the chance to find problems early so that they can be treated as soon as possible. Other problems might also be prevented. Many studies have shown that early and regular prenatal care is important for the health of both mothers and their babies.
Your healthcare provider will give you a schedule for your prenatal care. You will have prenatal visits more often as you get closer to the end of your pregnancy. An average pregnancy lasts about 40 weeks. A typical prenatal care schedule includes visiting your healthcare provider:
- About once each month during your first six months of pregnancy
- Then every two weeks during the next two months
- Then weekly until the delivery date.
If you are over 35, or if your pregnancy is high risk because you have certain health problems (like diabetes or high blood pressure), your healthcare provider will probably want to see you more often for prenatal care.