You just found out that you are pregnant after doing a pregnancy test.
How will you start your pregnancy journey?
The first thing you should do is consult your doctor or midwife.
This step will help you schedule your prenatal care and ensure that you receive all the knowledge and support needed for a safe pregnancy.
Make sure you make your first appointment with a midwife before you are 10 weeks through your pregnancy.
It is important that you go for your prenatal visit to help guide you through your pregnancy journey in the coming months.
This article explores what you should expect as you begin your pregnancy journey.
What is antenatal care?
The medical attention and assistance you receive while you’re pregnant is known as antenatal care, often known as “pregnancy care.”
This is to ensure that during your pregnancy, both you and your unborn child are as healthy as possible.
Your prenatal visits are spaced out during the course of your pregnancy.
The midwife caring for you will:
- Assess your health and the well-being of your unborn child
- Keep an eye out for any issues so you can receive assistance as soon as possible
- Provide you and your unborn child with any special care you require
- Educate you on how to take care of your health and that of your unborn child
- Address any questions you may have
- Assist you with birth preparation, and connect you with any additional support services you may require
The initial prenatal visit is referred to as the “booking appointment.”
When should you schedule your first appointment?
It is preferable to schedule your visit when you first suspect that you are expecting or about 6 to 8 weeks into your pregnancy.
You can pick whether your first appointment is with a:
- General practitioner
Who will you see at your prenatal visits?
Before selecting a midwife, you can first visit your personal doctor, it is up to you.
In the case you intend to give birth at a public hospital, you’ll probably visit a doctor or a midwife in the hospital.
Your midwife appointments will most likely be held in the birth center if you intend to give birth there.
Your meetings with your obstetrician will probably be in their rooms if you want to give birth at a private hospital.
Your prenatal care will likely be administered by a midwife in your house if you’re planning a home birth.
What is scheduled to happen during the appointments?
Any issues you may be having will affect the prenatal care you get during your pregnancy that includes:
- Your health
- Any risks you or your unborn child may have
- Your stage of pregnancy
There will be a number of examinations, tests, scans, and discussions, such as:
- When the baby is due, which trimester you are in
- What this means for you and your unborn child by learning about your medical history
- General health, and how any previous pregnancies were
- Discussing any medications you are taking
- Making sure you are up to date with cervical screening
- Checking on your mental health and providing support if you have depression or anxiety
- Offering guidance on healthy food and lifestyle modifications
- Organizing blood tests
- Assessing your blood pressure, weight, and urine
- Asking you about your living situation, job, and available assistance
- Measuring and touching your belly and hearing your baby’s heartbeat
- Finding out about antenatal classes
- Asking about any physical symptoms that may be upsetting you
- Going through your birth plan with you
- Discussing what to do if something goes wrong during the birth
- Tips on how to bring your baby home, feed them, and provide additional care
What to expect through the 3 trimesters of your pregnancy?
The First Trimester
Beginning on the first day of your last period and lasting until your twelfth month of pregnancy is the first trimester.
Within the first several weeks, your baby-carrying body starts to change physically and hormonally.
In this trimester, two prenatal visits to the gynecologist and obstetrician are sufficient.
Given the increased risk of miscarriage during the first trimester, this time period is critical for both the developing fetus and the mother.
Pregnant women should exercise caution and postpone any elective medical or dental operations.
Prenatal examinations for mothers should include tests for:
- Thyroid function
- Early pregnancy scans
- NT scans
- Serum creatinine
- Urine analyses
Doctors advise speaking with a nutritionist and a physiotherapist to assist you in creating a balanced eating plan and a safe exercise routine.
Throughout the whole pregnancy, it is best to refrain from doing:
- Drinking alcohol
- Smoking cigarettes
During pregnancy, it’s crucial for women to avoid alcohol, drugs, and smoking cigarettes to protect the health of the developing fetus.
The Second Trimester
The second trimester of pregnancy begins at week thirteen and lasts until week twenty-seven.
During this time, you will feel much more energetic and your baby’s movements are felt at the end of the third trimester.
The symptoms of pregnancy in the second trimester include:
- Stretch marks
- Backaches from the weight of the expanding fetus
- Unwelcome hair growth near the abdomen, arms, and back
Mothers also experience:
- Gum bleeding
- Breast enlargement, and sensitivity
Obstetricians screen for gestational diabetes at this time.
By the end of the third trimester, you will begin to feel Braxton-Hicks contractions.
There is no need to panic when you feel these contractions because there are virtual maternity programs there to help you.
These programs can assist moms and their families in:
- Keeping track of visits
- Keeping track of nutrition and exercise plans
- Staying educated about the ongoing changes
- Precautions during pregnancy
The Third Trimester
The third trimester starts when there are 28 months left till birth.
Every week, the fetus grows and is soon going to be ready to be born and so mothers endure:
- Swelling in their feet
- Frequent urination
- Leaking breasts
- Pelvic discomfort
The frequency of visits to the obstetrician rises to as much as once per week till birth.
Prenatal care for mothers should include:
- NST testing
- Ultrasound scans
- Blood tests
- Visits with a physician and a dietitian
The moment vaginal bleeding occurs throughout this trimester, a doctor should be notified.
Your Braxton-Hicks feel more intense and you will feel your developing fetus move about and kick more within the womb.
Does prenatal care lower the rate of maternal death?
Although there isn’t enough proof for many outcomes, antenatal care is expected to reduce high-risk pregnancy problems.
Some of the leading causes of maternal death, such as hemorrhage and obstructed labor, are unlikely to be affected.
These kinds of crises can be avoided with early detection and emergency care, which prenatal care can not offer.
However, it does seek to teach women how to spot these kinds of issues, which can assist to save their lives and encourage pregnancy readiness.
Antenatal care provides effective interventions for preventing certain conditions such as:
- Pre-eclampsia and eclampsia,
- The external cephalic version to identify a breached position, and infections
Some of these affect both the mother’s and the newborn’s health, such as malaria, HIV, tetanus, syphilis, gonorrhea, and bacteriuria.
It is plausible to suppose that prenatal care does provide some health advantages, although how it does so is complex and multifactorial.
What if you have a medical issue?
A medical condition, such as diabetes or asthma, could have an impact on your pregnancy.
Any problems you have could be affected by pregnancy.
Prior to speaking with your doctor, make sure you do not stop taking your medication until and unless you’ve talked with your doctor.
It is essential that you make your prenatal visit to your doctor as you begin your pregnancy journey.
Pregnancy medicine refers to the medications and treatments used to manage health conditions during pregnancy.
Make sure to make your booking appointment before you are 10 weeks through your pregnancy.
Your visit will help prepare you and your baby as your doctor or midwife takes a number of tests and discussions.