5 Ways To Make the Most of Your Prenatal Appointments During Pregnancy For A Better Birth

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Oftentimes, prenatal appointments can be overwhelming. You think about so many questions before the visit but when the time comes, you can't think of anything. Here are 5 ways to make the most of your prenatal appointments during pregnancy.

Make the Most of Your Prenatal Appointments mom with son at appointment

Pregnancy is an incredibly exciting and joyful time in a person's life, filled with anticipation and wonder as new life grows within. However, it's important to acknowledge that alongside the excitement, feelings of overwhelm are completely normal.

The physical and emotional changes, the wealth of information to absorb, and the various decisions to make can sometimes feel overwhelming.

From navigating prenatal appointments to preparing for the arrival of the baby, it's common to experience a mix of emotions, including joy, anxiety, and uncertainty. Remember, you're not alone in this journey.

Reach out to your support network, connect with other expectant parents, and lean on your healthcare provider for guidance and reassurance. Embrace the journey with an open heart, knowing that it's natural to feel overwhelmed at times and that you have the strength and support to navigate this transformative experience.

Choosing A Care Provider

I often say the making or breaking of a birth plan comes long before you ever go into labor. This is particularly true if you want a natural birth.

One of the most important factors is your relationship with your care provider and what happens at each prenatal appointment during your pregnancy. I saw this truth again and again with the women whose stories are featured in my book and in my own two pregnancy and birth experiences.

In fact, I don't think I would have had two natural home births at all if it weren't for my husband and I making the most of our first prenatal appointment with our midwife.

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5 Ways To Make the Most of Your Prenatal Appointments During Pregnancy For A Better Birth 1

By the time I was about 13 weeks along with our first, I had done an absolutely absurd amount of research on care providers, birth locations, and natural birth.

However, my husband hadn't had the full benefit of this breadth of information, and he still had concerns about the home birth I wanted.

What is the typical schedule of prenatal visits?

The typical schedule of prenatal visits depends on several factors, including the healthcare provider's preferences, the individual needs of the expectant mother, and any specific circumstances or risks associated with the pregnancy.

However, the following is a general guideline for the recommended schedule of prenatal visits:

  1. Before pregnancy: Some women may choose to have a preconception appointment with their healthcare provider to discuss their medical history, lifestyle, and any potential risks or concerns.
  2. First trimester (weeks 4-13): During the first trimester, prenatal visits are often scheduled once every four to six weeks. These early visits are crucial for confirming the pregnancy, assessing the mother's overall health, estimating the gestational age, and conducting initial tests and screenings.
  3. Second trimester (weeks 14-27): In the second trimester, prenatal visits are typically scheduled every four weeks. These visits focus on monitoring the baby's growth, assessing the mother's health and well-being, conducting additional tests and screenings, and addressing any concerns or questions.
  4. Third trimester (weeks 28-40+): Starting from the third trimester, prenatal visits are usually scheduled more frequently, approximately every two weeks until week 36. From week 36 until delivery, visits may be scheduled every week. These visits involve closely monitoring the baby's position, assessing the mother's blood pressure and weight, checking for signs of preterm labor, and preparing for childbirth. The healthcare provider may also conduct additional tests, such as group B strep screening.

It's important to note that this schedule is a general guideline, and it may be adjusted based on individual circumstances.

If the mother has certain medical conditions or complications, more frequent visits or specialized care may be necessary.

It's essential to maintain open communication with your healthcare provider to ensure that the prenatal visit schedule is tailored to your specific needs and to address any concerns or changes throughout the pregnancy.

Can I skip prenatal appointments?

Prenatal care plays a crucial role in monitoring the health and well-being of both the expectant mother and the developing baby. These appointments provide an opportunity for healthcare professionals to assess the progress of the pregnancy, identify any potential complications or risks, and provide necessary guidance and support.

During prenatal appointments, healthcare providers typically perform various important tasks, such as:

  1. Monitoring the baby's growth and development: Regular check-ups allow healthcare professionals to track the growth of the baby, assess the fetal heartbeat, and ensure that the baby is developing properly.
  2. Assessing the mother's health: Prenatal visits involve evaluating the mother's overall health, including blood pressure, weight gain, and any signs or symptoms that may indicate potential issues like gestational diabetes or preeclampsia.
  3. Conducting necessary tests: Prenatal appointments often involve conducting routine tests, such as blood tests, urine tests, and ultrasounds, which help identify any potential complications or genetic abnormalities.
  4. Providing important information and guidance: Prenatal visits offer an opportunity for healthcare providers to educate expectant parents about pregnancy, childbirth, breastfeeding, and newborn care. They can address any concerns or questions, provide advice on nutrition and exercise, and offer support for emotional well-being.

Skipping prenatal appointments can have serious consequences, as potential risks or complications may go unnoticed and untreated. Regular monitoring and early detection of any issues can significantly improve outcomes for both the mother and the baby. Prenatal care plays a vital role in ensuring a healthy pregnancy, reducing the risk of complications, and promoting the well-being of both the expectant mother and the baby.

If there are specific concerns or challenges that make attending prenatal appointments difficult, it is important to discuss them with your healthcare provider. They can work with you to find solutions and alternative arrangements, such as scheduling appointments at more convenient times or exploring telemedicine options. However, it is generally advisable to prioritize prenatal care and attend appointments as recommended by your healthcare provider.

How to Make the Most of Your Prenatal Appointments During Pregnancy

1. Bring a List of Questions

Fortunately, we made a list of all of our questions concerning our prenatal care and birth plan. Our midwife spent as much time as necessary with us to make sure each and every one of his questions were thoroughly answered. She had evidence-based information and a story to share about each of his concerns, and her answers calmed his fears in a way that I never could have. (After all, I had not yet ever been to a birth!)

Your prenatal appointments may be scheduled for anywhere from 10 to 60 minutes. Make the most of your time with your care provider by keeping a running list of any questions and concerns you have between appointments. This will help you remember what it was you wanted to talk to your care provider about during this blessed but forgetful season of life.

2. Do Your Research

I strongly believe that care providers are a wonderful part of your birth team. They can provide you with fantastic care, years of experience, and knowledge, but when it comes right down to it, you (and your husband) are responsible for making health decisions for your individual family.

Don't be afraid to do your own research and bring it to your prenatal appointments to discuss with your care provider.

If you and/or your partner are feeling nervous about your upcoming birth, let me recommend a course that covers everything from pregnancy, birth, breastfeeding, and life after birth in an all-in-one class! You can take it in the comfort of your own home on your own schedule. The Online Prenatal Course for Couples is taught by a nurse with 20 years of experience who was on the labor and delivery floor so she knows what she's talking about. Whether this is your first or sixth birth, I highly recommend the course!

3. Share Your Fears

Labor and birth are one of the most vulnerable times you will ever experience. It has a way of bringing out even unrelated emotional issues, and those can slow down labor and make it more painful. If you have fears or upsets about anything from your birth tub to your mother-in-law, it's a good idea to get it out now. Simply voicing these feelings out loud to your care provider can be a great start. Often they'll have a story or just a kind word that will help reassure you.

4. Don't Just Discuss Birth

While you may be focused primarily on a happy birth and healthy baby, don't be afraid to discuss your pregnancy discomforts during your prenatal appointments. I'll be the first to admit that talking about hemorrhoids, heartburn, and backaches can feel kind of awkward and downright trivial. But that's the point.

Your care provider has seen this all before and can help you overcome your aches and pains. You don't have to just suffer through. My midwives have been a wealth of information for natural pregnancy remedies and have helped me have more comfortable happy pregnancies.

5. Don't be afraid to call

Did I mention how pregnancy can be a rather forgetful time? I can't remember. If you find you've forgotten to ask your midwife or OB something important, don't wait until your next appointment to ask. You certainly won't be the first worried mother to call in, and your peace of mind will help both you and your baby to stay healthy.

Shannon writes about pregnancy, parenting, and simple living at GrowingSlower. She is the author of Natural Birth Stories: A Real Mom's Guide to an Empowering Natural Birth. She and her wonderful husband of five years live in Spokane, Washington. They are parents to an energetic little boy and a peaceful baby girl.

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