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As a pregnant woman, one needs to go for regular prenatal care. Such medical checkups and the necessary screening tests assist in keeping both the mother and the child safe and healthy. Prenatal care would also include counseling and education regarding the manner in which the mother should handle several pregnancy aspects. During such visits, the care giver would put on board several issues such as physical activity, healthy eating, the kind of screening test the mother may need to undergo and what the mother should expect during labor and delivery. There has been evidence that pregnant women who regularly go for prenatal checkups end up with a healthier pregnancies and babies.
There is need at the beginning of the pregnancy to decide the care giver for her pregnancy.
It is very important to carry out regular checkups during pregnancy. It would help in spotting problems which might occur during this period and take the necessary measures in advance to prevent them. Normal routine check pus should take place: once every month in the first four to 28 weeks, twice each month from 28th week to the 36th week and every week from the 36th week till birth. The first visit includes a physical check up, blood tests and calculation of the birth date. They can also carry out breast test, breast checkups to monitor your womb and a cervical test coupled with a pap exam. The doctor will record the woman’s history regarding lifestyle, health habits and relationships. There is need to provide the doctor with the most accurate information regarding the same.
The following prenatal visits would include examination of blood pressure, the baby’s heart rate and baby growth monitoring. There will also be some routine checkups in order to monitor the pregnancy. Such include anemia tests, gestational diabetes tests and harmful infections examinations. After the 28th week there is need to keep track of the baby’s movement. This would assist in checking if there is any distress with the baby hence seeks immediate medical care. The mother can do this by counting the baby’s movement every evening. This is the time when the baby is most active. The normal count should be 10 movements in the first 20 minutes. This counting should be carried out every day in order to keep on knowing if the baby is normal. In case the count is less than 10 movements within the first 2 hours then there is need to consult doctor as soon as possible.
The blood type and Rh factor of the mother as well as Anemia are other checkups that will have to be conducted during these visits. The doctor will also have to be check other infections including toxoplasmosis and STIs such as hepatitis B, syphilis, Chlamydia and HIV. The care giver might suggest carrying out other examinations. Some of these tests which are suggested for all pregnant women include gestational diabetes screening, Down syndrome and HIV. Several other tests might be suggested depending on the mother’s ethnic background, normal routine test results, family or personal background as well as the age of the woman.
Amniocentesis (AM-nee-oh-sen-TEE-suhss) test is a common test conducted on pregnant women. It helps in diagnosis of particular defects of birth such as cystic fibrosis, down syndrome and spina bifida. The test is carried out by use of a thin needle which draws out some amniotic fluid and cells from the sac which covers the fetus. The tests are usually taken to the laboratory for further examination. Another major test is biophysical profile (BPP) which finds it use in the third trimester to check the overall baby health and assist in making decision pertaining the delivery time of the baby. It involves use of an ultrasound test coupled with a no stress test. It examines the breathing, movement, heart rate, muscle tone of the baby. It also monitors its amniotic fluid.
In case the care giver gives suggestions on particular prenatal examinations, the woman should be free to ask them any questions. Understanding the tests and the reasons for the doctor’s suggestions as well as the implications of the results would help the woman to cope up with fears and worries she might have. Screening examinations do not diagnose medical challenges but usually help in evaluation of the risks that might be involved. This does not imply that when screening tests are abnormal there is a problem with the fetus. The care giver has therefore an obligation of explaining to the pregnant woman the meanings of the results and the next possible steps.