Benefits of prenatal care
Dr. Corinne Jedynak-Bell is an OB/GYN on staff at Banner Thunderbird Medical Center. Her office can be reached at (623) 936-1780.
Question: Can you please explain what the benefits of prenatal care are for mothers and babies?
Answer: Prenatal care is a program of care designed to ensure the birth of a healthy baby with minimal risk for the mother. To achieve this goal, there are several key aspects of prenatal care, including:
- Early, accurate estimation of the fetus’ age
- Identification of potential risks or complications
- Ongoing evaluation of the health of both mother and fetus
- Anticipation of potential health problems and necessary interventions
- Patient education and communication.
As a result, prenatal care is much more than just monitoring the mother's diet and weight. Monitoring the health of the mother throughout the pregnancy is also critical. Potential health issues for mothers such as diabetes (which can develop during pregnancy), insufficient weight gain, and high blood pressure, if ignored or untreated, can be harmful to the fetus and need to be continuously evaluated.
Along with watching the mother’s health, prenatal care is equally concerned with keeping a close watch over the health and development of the unborn baby. With proper prenatal care, healthcare providers can directly monitor the baby's well-being by listening to the fetal heartbeat, checking the size and positioning of the uterus and fetus, and testing for various abnormalities.
Some conditions, if detected prenatally, can even be treated before the baby is born. In other instances, early detection can allow for the proper medical personnel and resources to be present at the time of birth to provide the baby will full access to the care it needs.
The benefits of prenatal care to health and well-being of both mother and baby are numerous. Therefore it’s recommended that prenatal care begin when the pregnancy is first discovered, with most women beginning their care in the first trimester of pregnancy.
If you have any questions or concerns about the need or benefits of prenatal care, speak with your healthcare provider.