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
Pap test, pelvic exam, and
cervical exam may also be performed.
- Part of prenatal care is
screening for conditions like anemia, Rh factor incompatibility, and certain
infections like toxoplasmosis, hepatitis B,
type and immunity to rubella (German measles) and chickenpox will also be
- Prenatal tests are
performed to monitor the health and development of the baby. Prenatal tests
include amniocentesis, ultrasound,
triple screen, chorionic villus sampling,
group B strep screening, and a
- 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
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