About 75% of women in the United States start prenatal care before the end of their first trimester, but even if you’re further along in your pregnancy, it’s not too late. Getting regular exams and adjusting your lifestyle to your growing baby’s needs increases your chances for a healthy delivery and for your baby’s healthy life.
At Mian OB/GYN & Associates in Silver Spring, Maryland, Rafiq Mian, MD, recommends prenatal care for all pregnant women and their developing babies. Here’s why.
Prenatal care reduces risk of premature birth
When a baby is born too soon, it’s likely to be underweight. Low-birthweight babies face severe health challenges, especially if they’re born before 37 weeks of gestation.
We reduce the risk of premature birth by ensuring you’re healthy and getting all the nutrition you need to supply your baby with the nutrients they need, too. We help you adjust your diet to include more healthy, whole foods, and may recommend supplements, including folic acid.
When you come in for your prenatal visit, we examine you thoroughly and monitor your vital signs. We also periodically conduct ultrasound exams to be sure that your baby is developing normally and is hitting their milestones.
If you’ve had a premature birth before, you’re more at risk for a subsequent premature birth. In such cases, we label your pregnancy as “high risk,” so that we can monitor you more frequently and identify any problems as soon as they arise.
Prenatal care helps your baby reach a healthy weight
Even if you carry your baby to term, if they’re born underweight, they face increased health risks. Babies are considered underweight if they weigh less than 5 pounds, 8 ounces at birth.
Underweight babies may have trouble:
- Gaining weight
- Staving off infection
They’re also at risk for other health issues. When you eat a healthy diet and gain the weight you should during each trimester, your baby will most likely attain a healthy weight, too.
Prenatal care reduces risk of birth defects
Even before you became pregnant, you may have started taking a folic acid (folate) supplement. Folic acid is an important nutrient that helps your baby avoid neural tube defects. You should take at least 400 mcg of folic acid every day to help your baby’s spine develop normally.
We also recommend quitting smoking, using recreational drugs, and drinking alcohol. These habits may cause birth defects.
Heavy alcohol ,for instance, can cause fetal alcohol syndrome, which affects your baby’s ability to learn and thrive. If you’re having trouble breaking your addiction to substances such as recreational drugs, alcohol, or cigarettes, we refer you for counseling or cessation programs.
Prenatal care keeps you healthy, too
A healthy baby starts with a healthy mother. As soon as you know you’re pregnant — or, ideally, as soon as you begin trying to become pregnant — come to our office for a full check-up.
We look for underlying conditions that may affect your pregnancy or your baby’s health, including infections such as sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). We then work with you and your health team to resolve or manage any underlying health problems you have.
Frequent prenatal exams also allow us to monitor you for health issues that may arise during pregnancy, including:
- Gestational diabetes
- Urinary tract infections
We recommend a prenatal check-up once a month during weeks 4-28 of your pregnancy, twice a month during weeks 28-36, and then once a week until you give birth. If you have a high-risk pregnancy, we may recommend more frequent prenatal care.
If you’re pregnant, or are hoping to become pregnant soon, contact us for prenatal care today. You can reach us at Mian OB/GYN & Associates by phone or through our online booking form.