Prenatal Testing and Care: How to Earn an “A”
There’s so much to prepare for during your pregnancy, and while most of that preparation is exciting — choosing a name, decorating the nursery and indulging your strange cravings — it can be a bit nerve-wracking to think about all the medical tests and doctor visits ahead. But those routine checkups and prenatal screening tests help your healthcare provider learn how you and your baby are doing along the way. Here’s what you need to know about keeping yourself and your baby in good health throughout your journey.
During your pregnancy, visiting your doctor for routine checkups is critical. This consistent care ensures that you and your baby will remain healthy throughout the next nine months. But regular checkups also mean that should there be any complications, your physician will be able to identify them before they become serious and immediately address them. Your routine visits should follow this timeline — although if yours is a high-risk pregnancy, you should be seen more often.
- Once a month for weeks 4 through 28
- Twice a month for weeks 28 through 36
- Weekly for weeks 36 to birth
Your first checkup will most likely be the longest, because this is where you’re laying the foundation for the rest of your pregnancy journey. Your physician will perform a full physical exam, which will include a blood draw for lab tests, a breast exam, a pelvic exam to check your uterus and a cervical exam that includes a Pap smear. You should also be prepared to answer a lot of questions about your health habits, lifestyle and daily routines to ensure that you’re making healthy choices.
After the first visit, most prenatal visits will consist of your doctor checking your blood pressure and weight (to make sure you’re gaining the correct amount), analyzing the baby’s heart rate and measuring your abdomen to examine the baby’s growth.
Prenatal Tests: Which Do I Need and Why Are They Important?
Prenatal testing covers a variety of tests that your doctor may recommend or that you may choose to have during pregnancy. Prenatal tests are either screening tests or diagnostic tests.
These tests are meant to help determine whether your baby is likely to have specific health conditions or genetic and chromosomal abnormality, such as Down syndrome, cystic fibrosis, sickle cell anemia or heart defect. They’re a good indicator of any possible risks, but they don’t give a definitive answer about whether or not your baby has a concerning condition. However, screening tests are safe for both you and the baby, with no risks or side effects. Depending on the results of your screening tests, you may want to pursue further testing that may be required for the health of you and your baby.
If your screening tests yield positive results, further diagnostic tests will be used to confirm those results. If you decide to continue with diagnostic testing, you’ll learn more about your baby’s condition and how to provide the best care after the birth. It’s important to know, however, that some of these tests are more invasive and may carry risks for your baby, such as a possible miscarriage.
If certain health conditions are common in your family, it may be in your best interest to speak with a genetic counselor. These trained professionals can help you understand how birth defects and other medical conditions affect the health of you and your baby so that you can be prepared for any outcome.
If you’re concerned about the prenatal medical care you received from your OBGYN or other practitioner, we’re here to answer all your legal questions. The Cerebral Palsy Family Lawyers at Janet, Janet & Suggs have been helping families across the United States with their birth injury claims for 40 years. Contact us today for a free, no-obligation consultation to learn more about your rights and legal options.