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Pregnancy: Prenatal Care and Tests

Prenatal care and test facts

*Prenatal care and test facts Medically Edited by: Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

  • The definition of prenatal care is the health care of women throughout the course of pregnancy. Good prenatal care helps ensure the health of both the mother and the baby. Regular checkups and prenatal testing are important parts of prenatal care.
  • Prenatal care practitioners include obstetricians, family practice doctors, certified nurse-midwives (CNM), certified professional midwives (CPM), and doulas.
  • A woman can give birth in a hospital, birth center, or at home. The presence of certain health problems or pregnancy complications may prohibit a home birth.
  • Typically, a woman's age, family history, medical history, and pregnancy risk factors are assessed during the initial prenatal doctor visit. A breast exam, Pap test, pelvic exam, and cervical exam may also be performed.
  • Part of prenatal care is screening also will be assessed for conditions like
  • Blood type and immunity to rubella (German measles) and chickenpox will also be assessed.
  • Prenatal tests are performed to monitor the health and development of the baby. Prenatal tests include
  • Certain factors, such as gestational diabetes, preeclampsia, and being over the age of 35 increase the risk of having a high-risk pregnancy. Women who have a high-risk pregnancy may need more frequent doctor visits and special care.
  • Prenatal care costs can be expensive. Programs and services are available to help women get the care they need.

Prenatal care and tests introduction

Medical checkups and screening tests help keep you and your baby healthy during pregnancy. This is called prenatal care. It also involves education and counseling about how to handle different aspects of your pregnancy. During your visits, your doctor may discuss many issues, such as healthy eating and physical activity, screening tests you might need, and what to expect during labor and delivery.


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