Let’s start with the definition of prenatal. Prenatal is the time from when a woman conceives a child to when the child is born. It is simply the time a woman is pregnant. Some people ask what the difference is between antenatal vs prenatal and the truth is, they mean the same thing. However, prenatal is the word more commonly used.
A typical pregnancy lasts about 40 weeks. Some babies come before then, some come after. By 42 weeks, most midwives and doctors will talk to you about inducing birth or be very closely monitoring you to make sure baby comes safely. This is measured from the date of a woman’s last period, not the date of conception.
Prenatal Care Definition:
Prenatal care is the medical care a woman receives while she is pregnant.
Because the body is doing so much more than it normally is, creating a new body within itself as well as another organ to support this baby, called the placenta, as well as preparing for birth, it is important that a woman develop a loving and supportive relationship with a professional trained in caring for pregnant mothers such as a midwife or OB.
During pregnancy, you will want to meet with a midwife or OB regularly to talk about any questions or concerns you have, monitor that you are still healthy and make sure any complications are being addressed. You will also work with your OB or Midwife to plan your wishes for your birth, choose a birthing location and make sure you are prepared for emotionally and physically for this life change.
Weeks 4-28 You should be seen once a month (sometimes this does not start until 12 weeks, but call as soon as you become pregnant as good providers do fill up)
Weeks 26-36 You should be seen every 2 weeks
Weeks 36-Birth You should be seen every week
If you have complications or additional questions you may increase your visits.
Here are 5 prenatal care guidelines to have the best birth team ever:
Consciously build your birth team: You have every right and even the responsibility to interview and choose a prenatal care provider that fits for you. Every provider is different, has their own philosophy about birth and women. Find someone with both the skills and the birth philosophy that matches your own. Many women interview 3 to 10 care providers before choosing the one that is a right fit.
Begin you own birth education: Learn from the experience of others. Read a book or several blogs and get a good idea of what you want for your birth.
”If I don’t know my options, I don’t have any.” ~ Diana Korte
Join a Pregnancy Facebook Group: Everyone needs a tribe and a foundation of mothers going through the same thing at the same time. Search in Facebook to find a due date group of moms due at the same time as you.
Observe your own body and become an expert at taking care of yourself. If you ever had a reason to begin eating healthier, moving more or establishing other good habits, now is the time to take action and take care of yourself.
“you as a mother are capable of observing your own body, heart and mind, responding to the messages you receive during the childbearing year, and caring for yourself in an atmosphere of loving support and assistance” -Susan Weed, Wise Woman Herbal for the Childbearing Year
Begin looking for a doula. Doulas are support companions that help you prepare for birth and are by your side during your birth. If you have a doula you are less likely to have interventions and more likely to have a positive birth experience. Begin looking for this person now.