The feeling of carrying a life within yourself is truly inexplicable. The pregnant woman forms a special bond with her unborn child. She does everything possible to ensure that the baby is born healthy. Prenatal care and guidance are an integral part of pregnancy ensuring that no unfortunate complications take place that may affect the mother or the fetus.
As per the WHO, for every pregnant woman, it is important to visit the doctor or the attending gynecologist at least 8 times during the entire course of their pregnancy (irrespective of whether there are complications in the pregnancy or not). For a normal and healthy pregnancy, five of the eight visits should be during the final trimester.
From the recommended diet for the pregnant woman to health check ups and tests, each prenatal visit to the doctor goes a long way to make the pregnancy as healthy and safe as possible. The prenatal visits are usually scheduled based on the trimesters.
During the first 4-28 weeks, the doctor recommends one prenatal visit every month.
During weeks 28-36, a pregnant woman is required to visit the doctor once in every two weeks.
In the third and the final stage of pregnancy (between weeks 36-40), there should be weekly prenatal visits.
- In the initial visit and with the confirmation of the pregnancy, the doctor will check if the fetus is growing healthy. The pregnant woman will also be carefully monitored to see if she is keeping in good health.
- During the weeks 12-14, a remarkable and emotional moment awaits you. You will get to hear the heartbeat of the fetus for the first time (using a Doppler monitor).
- Between weeks 18-20, the doctor will carry out an ultrasound and come out with an image of the life that is living and growing within you each day.
- During the next visit between weeks 24-28, the doctor will get you tested for gestational diabetes, preeclampsia, or anemia, all of which can complicate the pregnancy.
- In the following weeks and subsequent prenatal visits, there will be many more tests, health check ups, screenings, and immunizations to keep the mother and the baby safe from quite a few potential hazards.
However, the schedule of prenatal visits changes if the doctor detects any complications in the pregnancy. The pregnant woman may then need constant monitoring to keep her and the baby safe. Some of the conditions that may increase the chances of a complicated pregnancy include-
- Pregnant woman with diabetes, hypertension, anemia or asthma, should be careful and under constant medical care and assistance. One cannot take a chance or miss out even a single prenatal visit. With such medical conditions and health problems, even a small negligence can prove costly.
- There is no hard and fast rule that pregnancy after the age of 35 will have complications. However, to play it safe, doctors recommend more frequent visits and some extra precautions and prenatal care.
- In spite of all the prenatal care, some women may develop gestational diabetes, preeclampsia or anemia during their pregnancy. The conditions if left untreated may spell doom for the fetus. Thus, the pregnant woman is required to visit the doctor more often.