11 Jan The Importance of Prenatal Care
Once you get pregnant, it’s time to gradually transition from your fertility care provider to the OB/GYN of your choosing. Prenatal care begins at about the six-week point, and the sooner you meet with your OB, the sooner you can learn more about their labor and delivery options, not to mention instant access to 24-hour prenatal care.
Prenatal care is essential for optimizing your and your baby’s health. And, while you may have been waiting for this positive pregnancy moment your whole life, it may be a surprise that you are more reluctant to make that transition from your fertility specialist to a prenatal care provider than you thought.
Often, women who spend months or years working with a fertility specialist have a hard time saying farewell as they move into their new realm of “prenatal mama!” However, we’ll be here for you every step of the way, and making those first OB appointments will make it all that much more official.
Start Thinking About Prenatal Care Before Getting Pregnant
We recommend considering your prenatal and labor/delivery care providers before getting pregnant. Knowing who you want to work with makes it easier to transition when the time comes. And, because you’re coming in with a history of infertility, you’ll feel most confident with an OB and care team with whom you’re already familiar.
Five Reasons to Prioritize Prenatal Care
1. Keep a close eye on your health
Obstetricians and nurse midwives are trained to catch asymptomatic red flags that a mother may be unaware of. And, as a patient with a history of infertility, your doctor will want to keep an even closer eye. Things like high blood pressure don’t always show up via symptoms. So, your monthly prenatal appointments allow your prenatal team to keep a careful watch on how you and your pregnancy are progressing.
You’ll be asked to provide blood samples along the way for pregnancy health screening. Your doctor works with you and other physicians/specialists to manage any existing health conditions.
2. Provide real-time pregnancy nutrition and health information
There are several reasons obstetricians, gynecologists, and fertility specialists spend so much time reminding women to “prepare their bodies for pregnancy” and to honor a pregnancy-worthy nutrition plan while TTC. The first is that healthier, well-nourished women making good lifestyle choices are the most likely to get pregnant within a year and enjoy a healthy, full-term pregnancy.
The other is that many women are pregnant before they experience a positive pregnancy test (even women pursuing fertility treatments can get pregnant between treatment phases). Your prenatal appointments start mid-way through the first trimester and provide real-time pregnancy nutrition and health information related to you, where you’re at in your pregnancy, and your pregnancy side effects or experiences.
3. Monitor the baby’s growth and development
A portion of each appointment is dedicated to monitoring your baby’s growth and development. This includes a combination of gentle, physical palpations of your belly, using a doppler ultrasound for hearing the baby’s heartbeat after a certain point in pregnancy, and performing ultrasounds for a visual assessment.
These steps help your care provider determine whether the baby is growing normally, has the necessary anatomic parts at the right times, and investigate anything out of the ordinary. The sooner the care team is aware of a problem, the quicker it can be addressed.
4. Run routine fetal testing/screening
Odds are you used pre-conception genetic screening or PGT as part of your fertility treatment plan. Now, your OB will use additional screening tests to verify your baby’s well-being.
They use different tests at different stages of your pregnancy. They include imaging tests, blood tests, and amniotic fluid (amniocentesis) tests, checking for any signs of chromosomal or genetic defects, as well as heart defects or neural tube defects.
5. Close monitoring as you approach your due date
Appointments increase in frequency as you approach your due date. As you did when scheduling fertility treatments, you’ll have to clear your calendar for more frequent appointments once you reach the 36-week point. From there, appointments move to twice per month – and then once per week – until you finally go into labor.
Virginia Fertility & IVF Wishes You the Best
You’ve worked so hard to get to where you are today. Now, the team at Virginia Fertility & IVF wishes you and your baby the very best. Honoring the importance of prenatal care is the next best step on your parenting journey.