Prenatal period is from the time your baby is conceived until your baby is born
Having regular check-ups with your nurse-midwife is important to make sure that you and the baby are staying healthy and if there are any problems to take care of them early. Babies born to mothers who do not get prenatal care are three times more likely to have a low birth weight and five times more likely to die than those born to mothers who do get care.
One of the main differences between seeing a nurse-midwife rather than an obstetrician or doctor for prenatal care is that the midwife has more time to spend with you at your visits, can get to know you as a person and offer advice and guidance in nutrition and breast-feeding as well as work on educating you to help prevent health problems during your pregnancy. An obstetrician or a doctor is highly trained and skilled at handling complications during pregnancy, while a nurse-midwife is highly skilled and trained at caring for low-risk, healthy pregnant women. Your nurse-midwife views your pregnancy as an experience of health and a natural, normal physiologic process. Your nurse-midwife is highly trained to detect if you are experiencing problems and will refer you to an obstetrician if your pregnancy becomes complicated. Nurse- midwives help women understand the choices and options available to them and are encouraged to make their own decisions and actively participate in their own care. Women have reported that they are more satisfied about their ability to make decisions when they are assisted by a midwife as opposed to an obstetrician.
A good time to schedule an appointment with your nurse-midwife is 4-6 weeks after your missed period or earlier if you are having any concerns. At your first visit, your nurse-midwife will want to know information about any health problems, surgeries or medications you are or have taken, as well as your family health history. A complete physical exam with a pelvic exam will be done and if you need it a pap smear will be taken along with cultures for infection. You will be given a lab-slip to do pregnancy blood-work and urinalysis and if you need it a prescription for prenatal vitamins will be provided. The best nutrition and a healthy lifestyle will be discussed and encouraged. If you are at least 12 weeks along, we will be able to hear your baby's heartbeat with a Doppler. This is a great opportunity for you to ask any questions or concerns that you may have. You will spend approximately 45-60 minutes with the nurse-midwife at your first visit.
At your return visits, you will spend about 30 minutes with your nurse-midwife. Your blood pressure, weight and urine are checked to make sure you are staying well. The nurse-midwife will measure your belly to make sure the baby is growing nicely. After twelve weeks in your pregnancy, we are able to hear your baby's heart-beat and will check it at every visit. After 20 weeks in the pregnancy, an ultrasound appointment will be offered to you to check on your baby's development and you may be able to find out if you are having a boy or girl. After your first visit, we will see you every four weeks and when you are 30 weeks you will be seen every two weeks. The last five weeks of your pregnancy you will be seen every week. Throughout your pregnancy if you have issues or concerns we welcome you to call our clinic in between clinic visits.
Seeing you early in your pregnancy and regularly after that can help you and your baby have the best start possible. The nurse-midwife will help you stay on course to have a healthy, safe and satisfying pregnancy experience and can refer you if there are any complications.