When it comes to medical care and pregnancy, you can never start too early. The best start to having a healthy baby is to see your health-care provider before you conceive. There are lots of things you can do ahead of time, such as making sure you’re immune to rubella (German measles), finding out your blood type, stopping smoking, making sure your diet is healthy, and getting any illnesses you might have under control. Many obstetricians recommend you start taking prenatal vitamins even before you conceive.
Once you’re pregnant, your health professional will have you begin with monthly visits that increase to once a week or more at the end.
At each visit, the physician or nurse will perform a series of examinations and tests to determine the health of the mother and baby. These include measuring the growth of the uterus, listening to the baby’s heartbeat, taking the mother’s blood pressure and weight, and checking her urine for evidence of protein or sugar, which could be symptoms of complications.
The care provider will ask the mother if she has any concerns or problems such as blurred vision, leg cramps, abdominal cramps, or unusual headaches. The mother may also undergo ultrasound and genetic tests during the pregnancy. Getting good care is very important since it is known that pregnancy outcomes are better in women with early prenatal care.
Revision date: July 5, 2011
Last revised: by Andrew G. Epstein, M.D.