Whether your pregnancy preparation begins when you plan to become pregnant, or when you have discovered you are pregnant, prenatal care is a critical component to the delivery of a healthy baby. Your gynecologist should guide you through the process, and if necessary, refer you to a competent obstetrician. Prenatal visits are intended to monitor the progress of the pregnancy, and to begin important treatments to encourage the baby’s well-being.
At the initial appointment, the gynecologist will take a full medical, social, family and surgical history to determine the age of the baby, what risks should be planned for, and what advice should be given early on. They will give advice on many topics, including prenatal vitamins, smoking cessation. Laboratory tests will typically begin around six to 10 weeks, and a physical examination will be performed. The physical examination may include a PAP smear, and cultures for sexually transmitted disease. Ultrasound may be necessary to more precisely determine the baby’s age.
At following visits, it is routine to monitor blood pressure, weight, uterus size, and fetal heart rate. Expectant mothers should report anything unusual, including bleeding, vaginal discharge, or urinary problems. After about 20 weeks, they will be asked about contractions and fetal movement. All expectant mothers should be given options for genetic testing and counseling.
Common Pregnancy Problems
- Back pain: low back pain is common, particularly in the third trimester. Massage, heating pads, and pain relievers can be used.
- Constipation: increased progesterone hormones can cause constipation. Doctors will typically advise increased fluids and stool softeners. Laxatives are typically avoided in the third trimester because of the risks of preterm labor.
- Contractions: dehydration may increase contractions. Irregular contractions that don’t lead to cervical change are Braxton Hicks contractions, and are normal. Regular contractions, as often as every 10 minutes, are a possible sign of preterm labor and a physical examination may be necessary.
- Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease: patients may use antacids, and multiple small meals may be recommended.
- Swelling: Leg and feet swelling is a common side effect of pregnancy—patients should elevate their legs, and sleep on their sides. Swelling of the face and hands could be a warning sign of preeclampsia.
If your medical team did not provide proper prenatal care, and your child suffered permanent injuries, contact our birth injury lawyers at (440) 252-4399 or send us a message online.