A prenatal consultation serves as an opportunity to meet with the doctor to discuss the details of pregnancy. Regular doctor’s visits are recommended and will allow for professional monitoring of the mother and baby’s health. These visits also provide time to develop a trusting relationship and discuss any potential complications that may affect the patient and her baby.
The Initial Prenatal Consultation
During the first appointment, the patient will be able to ask questions about the pregnancy and the options available. A physical examination and review of the patient’s medical history will be done. The following prenatal care tests may be conducted:
- Blood pressure
- Fetal heart tones
- Height of the fundus
- Blood tests
Recommendations During The Prenatal Consultation
The physician will most likely want to discuss various lifestyle changes that need to be made to ensure the mother’s health and the health of the baby. Some of these recommendations may include:
- Avoiding exposure to toxic chemicals
- Establishing an exercise regimen
- Being vaccinated
- Creating a healthy diet
- Becoming aware of the need for health care during pregnancy
- Restricting travel
- Taking prenatal vitamins or supplements
A prenatal consultation is usually recommended for expectant mothers 8 weeks after the last menstrual period. Prenatal consultations are important regardless of the number of pregnancies the mother has had. Prenatal care is crucial to the mother and the baby’s healthy development.
Prenatal care is essential to ensure the healthy growth and development of a fetus. Women who receive prenatal care have healthier babies, are less likely to deliver prematurely, and have fewer pregnancy-related problems. Prenatal care should begin as early as possible. Doctor visits are usually monthly, and become more frequent as the pregnancy progresses. Routine tests at these visits include urine testing and blood-pressure checks. In addition to routine tests, there are several prenatal tests that are performed at specific times during the pregnancy. They are administered to monitor the health of the fetus and, in some cases, the mother.
Types Of Prenatal Tests
A variety of prenatal tests are performed to monitor the fetus’s health, and identify anything that can lead to complications. Certain tests are administered at different times throughout the pregnancy. After initial blood and urine tests to confirm a pregnancy, additional prenatal tests often include those below.
Cell-free DNA testing is a noninvasive way of testing a fetus’s DNA by using the mother’s blood. It can be performed at 10 weeks of pregnancy, and is used to determine whether the fetus has a genetic condition such as Down syndrome.
Chorionic villus sampling (CVS) is commonly performed at 10 to 12 weeks of pregnancy. It is used to determine whether the fetus has a genetic condition such as Down syndrome. During the test, a sample of chorionic villi is removed from the placenta for testing. An ultrasound may be performed in conjunction with this test to guide the physician as the tissue sample is removed.
The alpha-fetoprotein (AFP) test examines the level of alpha-fetoprotein in the mother’s blood during pregnancy. This test is commonly performed between the 14th and 18th weeks of pregnancy. A blood sample is taken from the mother to measure the AFP levels in her blood, which may be an indicator of certain genetic conditions or birth defects.
A fetal ultrasound (sonogram) is an imaging technique that produces images of the fetus. This test is commonly performed at 18 to 20 weeks of pregnancy. Fetal ultrasound images help to monitor the fetus’s growth and development, and determine how the pregnancy is progressing.
Nuchal translucency screening is commonly performed at 11 to 14 weeks of pregnancy. An ultrasound is used to measure the thickness of the back of the fetus’s neck. The information obtained from the ultrasound, in conjunction with a blood test, is used to determine whether Down syndrome is present.
Amniocentesis is commonly performed at 15 to 20 weeks of pregnancy to determine whether the fetus has Down syndrome or another genetic condition. During the test, a thin needle is inserted into the mother’s abdomen to suction out a small amount of tissue and cells from the amniotic fluid that surrounds the fetus. It is usually only performed if the mother has a high risk of having a child with a genetic condition, or is at an advanced age for pregnancy.
Glucose screening is normally performed at 24 to 28 weeks of pregnancy; it is used to test for gestational diabetes. The mother consumes a sugary drink, and her blood is tested an hour later to measure her blood-sugar levels.
Group B Streptococcus infection screening is often performed at 35 to 37 weeks of pregnancy. It is used to determine the presence of any streptococcus bacteria, which can cause serious infections in the fetus. Swabs are used to take samples from the mother’s vagina and rectum. A woman who tests positive for this bacteria will need antibiotics when she is in labor.
Urine testing is performed throughout the pregnancy to test for diabetes, preeclampsia and infection.
A balanced diet is essential to maintaining a healthy pregnancy. It can prevent excessive weight gain, and keep gestational diabetes and high blood pressure from developing. Every expectant mother can benefit from following a diet that provides her with sufficient nutrients, vitamins and minerals; her baby will benefit as well.
An expectant mother is advised to add an extra 300 calories a day to her diet. An ideal pregnancy diet is rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy products and lean protein. There are also foods that a pregnant woman should avoid because they can pose a risk to the fetus. They include certain types of seafood that contain high levels of mercury, and soft, unpasteurized cheeses. Caffeine intake should be limited to one cup per day, and alcoholic beverages should be avoided. Bacteria from unwashed produce and undercooked meats can also be more dangerous during pregnancy. Drinking plenty of water to stay hydrated and help prevent constipation is recommended.
Although a healthy diet is the best way for an expectant mother to get all the nutrition she needs, taking prenatal vitamins is also important. They provide both mother and fetus with the additional vitamins and minerals needed during pregnancy. Prenatal vitamins contain high amounts of folic acid, which helps to prevent neural-tube birth defects, and iron, which helps to prevent anemia, and supports the fetus’s growth and development.