Navigating Pregnancy – The Importance of Access to Antenatal Care

Pregnant patient consultation with a doctor

Pregnancy is one of the most complex biological processes that we know of. From the initial implantation of the fertilized egg in the ovary to its development into a fetus and eventually a newborn, this roller coaster of a journey is nothing short of miraculous.

Given how intricate the entire process of childbirth is, it goes without saying that expecting mothers should receive the best care throughout the nine or so months. This ranges from taking prenatal visits and periodic screenings – to the intake of a balanced diet, and the support of your family and friends. Remember, if you feel any usual symptoms, consult a specialist right away instead of relying on Google. Also, do a thorough research on hospitals and medical centers offering the most advanced obstetrics and gynecology care around you.

Antenatal Appointments – What to expect?

Once you’ve determined you’re pregnant, you need to carefully plan out your pregnancy. The very first step to this is to see a General Practitioner (GP) or midwife. This is quite literally the moment you feel butterflies in the stomach. You won’t see your little angel yet through the ultrasound exam, but might just be able to hear their tiny beating heart (if you’re 6 weeks+ pregnant). The subsequent appointments with your care provider are called antenatal appointments.

Throughout the nine months, the obstetrician or gynecologist will perform a series of tests (mostly non-invasive) to ensure you and your baby remain healthy. Besides regular checkups and medicines, the specialist will also dive deep into the lifestyle changes you need to embrace; such as dietary choices, help with quitting smoking or alcohol, resolving mental health issues, etc.

Checks, Tests, Scans and More

If it’s your first pregnancy and there are no signs of distress to you or the baby, you will typically have to attend 9-10 antenatal appointments. If you’ve given birth before, you’ll most probably have fewer appointments.

During these visits, your caregiver will determine a tentative due date for the baby, the trimester you are in along with its implications for you and your baby. The obstetrician gynecologist will also explore your medical history to rule out any possible anomalies.

Additionally, they ensure your adherence to cervical screening protocols and diligently monitor your mental health, offering support for conditions such as depression or anxiety. Through meticulous checks of your blood pressure, weight, and urine, as well as the performance of blood tests and screening, they carefully watch over your and the baby’s physical health.

Your healthcare provider will review your birth plan, discuss potential deviations during childbirth, and provide information on antenatal classes. They will also offer invaluable advice on newborn care, including feeding and other essential aspects of postpartum care.

Where will the antenatal care take place?

Antenatal care options vary depending on your health status and location. These may include:

  • Local health centers, birth units, children’s centers, or young person’s projects
  • GP surgeries
  • Local hospitals
  • Home visits

Your appointments should take place in a setting where you feel comfortable and have family support available to you.

If your pregnancy is complex, such as carrying multiple babies or developing gestational diabetes, some appointments may be scheduled at a tertiary care hospital. You may also have additional appointments with a specialized team of healthcare professionals experienced in managing complex pregnancies.

Will I undergo an Internal Examination?

During your antenatal visits, especially right before you go into birth, your care provider will likely do an internal examination. Termed as a ‘membrane sweep’, the specialist will perform a cervical sweep during the internal examination, which may stimulate natural onset of labor.

When you enter labor, you’ll undergo an internal examination to determine the overall progress.

Postnatal Care

Starting immediately after birth, postnatal care encompasses various aspects, including physical recovery from childbirth, emotional support, breastfeeding assistance, newborn care, and monitoring for any postpartum complications.

It involves regular check-ups with healthcare providers to assess the mother’s physical health, such as monitoring healing from childbirth-related injuries, managing postpartum pain, and if you’ve had a C – section, you might be referred to take physiotherapy classes at the hospital or medical center where you’ve given birth.

Additionally, it includes support for breastfeeding mothers, including guidance on proper latch techniques, addressing breastfeeding challenges, and monitoring infant growth and development. Newborn care is also an essential component of postnatal care, with healthcare providers offering guidance on newborn feeding, sleep patterns, diapering, and recognizing signs of illness or developmental milestones. 

Maintain an Open, Two-Way Dialogue with your Obstetrician/Gynecologist

Be open with your healthcare provider and ask them as many questions as possible. Obstetrics and gynecology have come a long way – there has been a greater focus on patient-centered care, with an emphasis on holistic approaches and personalized treatment plans for both the mother and the fetus.

Whether you’re a first-time mommy-to-be or already have little ones to chase around, pregnancy can bring a wide spectrum of emotions – ranging from happiness and excitement to anxiety and depression. So, it’s important to be kind to yourself throughout your pregnancy.

Disclaimer: This article contains sponsored marketing content. It is intended for promotional purposes and should not be considered as an endorsement or recommendation by our website. Readers are encouraged to conduct their own research and exercise their own judgment before making any decisions based on the information provided in this article.


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