Lifestyle choices are monumentally important once you find out you are pregnant. In addition to changes in diet and exercise, the decision to honor prenatal care appointments is one of the best choices you’ll make when it comes to taking extra special care of yourself and your baby.
What Is Prenatal Care?
Prenatal care is considered part of your wellness care. Your health insurance carrier usually pays for monthly appointments, standard screenings, and tests, although there may be out of pocket expenses for lab tests, ultrasounds, or other services. In addition, free and low-cost prenatal care is available to qualifying participants (Click to learn more about Oregon Health Plan options).
Studies show over and over again that those who participate in prenatal appointments throughout their pregnancy:
- Reduce their risk of pregnancy and birth-related complications.
- Reduce their fetus’s risk of complications.
- Give birth to babies with healthier birth weights.
- Are less likely to give birth to babies with neural tube defects (NTDs).
- Have less stress and anxiety about pregnancy and labor because they feel supported.
Prenatal care begins before you ever get pregnant.
Your ability to have a healthy pregnancy and labor is closely connected to your overall health and well-being. For that reason, prenatal care begins before you ever get pregnant. It starts with cultivating a positive relationship with a gynecologist or midwife.
It starts with annual wellness visits.
Your prenatal care begins with the annual wellness checkups you’ll have before you get pregnant. This allows us to discuss reproductive health, screen for STDs when you’re sexually active, and provide routine screenings and tests that catch red flags in time to treat them.
Schedule a preconception appointment.
Once you’re ready to start a family, schedule a preconception appointment. While you’re there, we’ll talk to you about how to learn more about your fertile window, timing sex to get pregnant, look deeper into any physical or menstrual cycle irregularities, and provide you with lifestyle recommendations for boosting fertility.
If you aren’t doing so already, we’ll encourage you to take a prenatal supplement with folic acid. Most people don’t know they’re pregnant until about six to eight or more weeks along. So by taking a prenatal supplement and eating to support a healthy pregnancy, you and your baby can access all the necessary nutrients.
Once you find out you’re pregnant…
Congratulations! This is a significant milestone. Once you have a positive on your home pregnancy test, contact your OB/GYN or midwife, and we’ll begin scheduling prenatal appointments. Unless you have an existing health condition or the pregnancy is considered high-risk, prenatal appointments start when you are about eight weeks pregnant. At this time, we’ll also provide information on our midwifery program in case that feels like a better fit for you.
From that point forward, you’ll see us once per month. Once you reach 28 weeks, you’ll come in every other week. When you reach 36 weeks, appointments occur every week until the baby is born. During these appointments, we will:
- Check in to see how you’re doing, answer any questions, and ensure you feel fully supported and confident about the pregnancy, labor, and delivery.
- Perform a routine physical, including gentle palpations of your abdomen, to ensure the baby is growing and moving as it should.
- Provide routine prenatal screenings and tests, following ACOG guidelines.
- Encourage you to enroll in our prenatal classes by calling (509) 416-9922.
- Provide information about your baby’s size, development, and which parts of the body are developing at this point in time.
- Continue providing relevant diet, exercise, and lifestyle choices to support a healthy pregnancy and helpful tips to optimize relief from common pregnancy discomforts.
- Work with you to create a birthing plan that supports your labor and delivery goals.
- Begin discussing your plans for feeding your baby along with oodles of information on breastfeeding and lactation support.
Prenatal care visits are one of the most joyful parts of our job, and we love every minute we spend bonding with patients and their developing babies.
Schedule Your Prenatal Visits with Northwest Women’s Clinic
Are you ready to schedule a preconception or prenatal visit? Contact us here at Northwest Women’s Clinic. Our incredible team of obstetricians and midwives can’t wait to meet your baby and take extra special care of you during one of the most amazing journeys of your life.