Prenatal Care

In the initial stages of pregnancy, we first identify how many fetuses there are and identify any risk factors for the mom, which also us to determine if it's just a routine pregnancy or a high-risk pregnancy. Early on, it's useful to discuss lifestyle modification, like quitting smoking, avoiding drugs and alcohol, routine screening for genetic disorders, appropriate weight gain in pregnancy, and safety issues.

The second part of pregnancy is basically watching for preterm labor and establishing that the baby is growing as it should. We perform an ultrasound in the middle of the pregnancy, at about 20 weeks, to look for any congenital problems that the baby could possibly have. Towards the end of pregnancy, we watch for things like gestational diabetes, to make sure that the mother is not glucose intolerant which can increase some risks for the baby and the mom. And we watch mom's blood pressure, monitoring for things like pre-eclampsia or hypertension that could be more problematic for mom if it's not addressed.

The initial visit is usually established around eight weeks of pregnancy and then we see patients on a monthly basis up through about 32 weeks, then typically every other week until 36 weeks and usually every week until the baby's born after that. The timing of prenatal care is important so we are able to watch for any complications that could occur and sometimes it can happen quickly, so regular check-ups keep us on top of things.

Things that the mother can do to impact the pregnancy include being careful what you put in your body, including avoiding drugs, alcohol and tobacco. Also, staying active is important. Exercise during pregnancy is actually a good thing as it helps limit weight gain and reduces mom's risk for high blood pressure and diabetes during the pregnancy. Moms that are more fit, do well with labor also.

Prenatal vitamins are helpful in preventing things like anemia during pregnancy and actually can prevent spina bifida if you're taking folic acid. DHA is an important supplement also for fetal brain development and can also be involved in helping keep mom's mood healthy.

Activities during pregnancy that you may want to avoid including anything that could cause trauma to the baby or to your abdomen. Proper positioning of your seatbelt while you're in the car is important so that the belt is over your hips and the shoulder harness goes down between the breasts and off to the side so there's no belt or harness over the abdomen. Anything that could involve trauma to the mom's body is probably best avoided, including water skiing, riding horses or motorcycle, just to prevent the possibility of trauma.

Things in the first part of pregnancy that you may want to let your doctor know about include bleeding and cramping for the possibility of a miscarriage or even real early labor. Also, in this day and age of COVID, you want to report if you're feeling feverish, experiencing chest pain or shortness of breath. Bring that to your provider's attention and get screened appropriately. In the middle of pregnancy, watch for signs of preterm labor such regular contractions, bleeding or leaking fluid vaginally. As the pregnancy advances, watch for a decrease in fetal movement. Talk to you provider right away if you experience any of these.