The importance of prenatal care
By Thomas Neely, MD, Methodist Women’s Services
Routine prenatal care is important to prevent potential problems during
pregnancy and to increase the chance for a healthy mother and baby.
What happens at the initial prenatal visit?
The initial visit begins with taking an accurate medical history and is
combined with the patient's physical examination. The history involves
getting to know the patient as a person and identifying risks for the
mother and baby throughout the pregnancy. An ultrasound is often obtained
at the first visit. An early ultrasound is important to determine a precise
due date. The patient is also advised to begin taking prenatal vitamins,
which have been shown to prevent some birth defects.
What types of additional tests and diagnostic studies are needed?
While standard lab tests are obtained on all pregnant patients, including
a blood count, blood type, and Rh type, additional blood work is ordered
depending on what is found in the history and physical examination. Women
with a prior history of pre-term labor will be considered for new medical
and/or surgical interventions that can reduce the risk for repeated pre-term labor.
What types of follow up visits are needed as the pregnancy progresses?
As the pregnancy progresses, brief histories and physicals are obtained
to look for any problems such as abnormalities of the baby and preeclampsia,
a pregnancy complication characterized by high blood pressure and high
levels of protein in their urine. Laboratory work is routinely done for
diabetes and for the development of anemia.
Women whose blood is Rh factor negative have testing to see if they develop
antibodies against Rh-positive blood and are given immunoglobulin to prevent
this from developing. Additional ultrasounds are often obtained for a
wide variety of concerns such as to evaluate for birth defects, or the
amount of amniotic fluids, as well as to determine the sex of the baby.
About Dr. Neely:
Dr. Thomas Neely is a board-certified obstetrician-gynecologist who provides
care at Methodist Women’s Services at 736 North Elm Street in Henderson
and at 44 McCoy Ave. in Madisonville. To schedule an appointment, call
270-827-4000 (Henderson) or 270-821-6818 (Madisonville).