Obstetrics is the medical specialty that provides care to women during pregnancy, childbirth and after childbirth (postpartum). Your obstetrician can get you started on a pregnancy plan that will be of most benefit to you and your unborn child, and is there to guide and counsel you throughout the 9-month journey and after.
Why Is Prenatal Care Important?
Regular appointments with your health care provider throughout your pregnancy are important to ensure the health of you and your baby. In addition to medical care, prenatal care includes education on pregnancy and childbirth, plus counseling and support.
Frequent visits with your healthcare provider allow you to follow the progress of your baby’s development. Visits also give you the opportunity to ask questions. Also, we welcome your partner at each visit, as well as interested family members.
What Happens at My First Visit for Prenatal Care?
The visit will give our physicians clues to any risk factors that may affect your pregnancy. It will typically be longer than future visits. The purpose of the first prenatal visit is to:
- Determine your due date.
- Find out your health history.
- Explore the medical history of family members.
- Determine if you have any pregnancy risk factors based on your age, health and/or personal and family history.
You will be asked about previous pregnancies and surgeries, medical conditions and exposure to any contagious diseases. Also, you will have the opportunity to us about any medications (prescription or over-the-counter) you have taken or are currently taking.
Do not hesitate to ask our provider any question you may have. Most likely, those are the questions your provider hears most often! And, we love to answer them.
What Common Prenatal Tests Will I Be Given?
Typically, your first prenatal visit includes a full exam (including pelvic exam and Pap-Smear), collection of urine specimen, and blood tests.
Brief outline of your first medical visit:
- Physical exam: You are weighed and your blood pressure, heart, lungs, and breasts are checked.
- Pelvic exam: During the pelvic exam, a Pap smear is taken to screen for cervical cancer and cultures are taken to detect sexually transmitted diseases (such as gonorrhea and Chlamydia). In addition, a bimanual internal exam (with two fingers inside the vagina and one hand on the abdomen) will be performed to determine the size of your uterus and pelvis. This exam will also check for any abnormalities of the uterus, ovaries, or fallopian tubes.
After the first visit, you’ll probably be seen monthly through the early stages of pregnancy, as long as everything is going well. Later in the pregnancy, we see patients most frequently. Of course we are available during visits hours to answer urgent questions, or to deal with any unexpected problems.
Childbirth, also known as labor and delivery, is an exciting time as you bring a new life into the world. Delivery methods include vaginal, cesarean section and VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean). The best way to prepare yourself mentally and emotionally for labor and delivery is to educate yourself on the process. The more you know about the process and what to expect, the more confident you will be.
After the baby arrives, you may have a lot of questions or concerns about your care - from vaginal soreness if you had a vaginal delivery or abdominal pain if you had a c-section. You may also experience constipation, vaginal discharge and hair loss. Your breasts may become sore and swollen in preparation to produce milk. You may also have concerns about breastfeeding, the proper techniques of breastfeeding and if your child is getting enough to eat.
In addition, hormonal changes in your body can contribute to the emotional changes you may be feeling. You may experience the “baby blues” which can include crying, anxiety and sadness. It is important to know that these feelings are normal. If you begin to experience insomnia, loss of appetite, lack of motivation, obsessive thoughts, extreme fatigue and irrational thoughts, you may have postpartum depression. Please contact us so we can offer treatment.