Why is Prenatal Care so Important?
1. First of all, what is prenatal care?
Prenatal care is caring for the mother & baby from conception to birth, which last till around 38 or 40 weeks gestation. Prenatal care is necessary to help promote good physical and mental health, and to also educate the parents for labor, delivery and breastfeeding. Knowledge is often a means of eliminating unnecessary problems.
2. Why is early prenatal care so important?
Early care can help detect problems that could possibly be turned around, and may also aid in ruling out high risk conditions that could endanger the mother and the baby. Oftentimes, a mother doesn't even realize she is pregnant until 8 weeks-the most critical time.
3. What types of things do you check for during the prenatal period?
First of all, we check the mother's medical and O.B. history. We want to know how many pregnancies she has had, any miscarriages, C-sections, problems, etc. We like to do some blood work to make sure that the mother's hemoglobin (hgb) isn't too low. We need to know the blood type. A prenatal panel is recommended (especially for first time moms). Then at every visit we check weight, B.P., pulse, edema, urinalysis, fetal movement, uterus size or fundal height, palpation and fetal heart tones. (See my book for more info.)
4. Is it important for a mother to watch her weight during pregnancy and how much weight should she gain?
Well, if she is on a healthy diet she would not have to worry much, but a normal weight gain is 20-25 lbs.
5. What is edema and what should be done if edema is a problem?
Edema simply means swelling brought on by an accumulation of fluid in the intercellular spaces of tissues. This puffiness will be seen usually on ankles, feet, hands and sometimes the face. (See my book for more info.)
6. What is meant by palpating, and what is the purpose for that?
This is a very important tool that we use. Palpating is done with our hands to feel the baby in the uterus to determine the position and the size. We also listen for fetal heart tones (FHT) while palpating.
7. Aside from the physical needs of the mother, what other needs or concerns might you address during the prenatal period?
Emotional support also plays a role. She may have fears that she needs to express or share. I find a lot of fear arises simply from not being informed.
For this child I prayed; and the Lord hath given me my petition which I asked of him. - 1 Samuel 1:2