Obstetric care helps a mother through the journey of pregnancy, from the very first trimester to postnatal care. All through this journey, the health and well-being of the mother and child are monitored to ensure that the pregnancy and birth go as smoothly as possible.
This is done with the help of basic obstetric services that every mother-to-be should receive.
Basic obstetric care
Testing for illness and infections in the mother
On the very first prenatal visit, the mother will go through a series of tests to make sure that she does not have a disease that can be transmitted to the baby. If the disease is found in the mother's bloodstream, the physician will advise the mother about treatment options.
Comprehensive blood tests
The physician will also check the mother's blood type and Rhesus factor. They will then test the mother for anemia and immunity to measles and chickenpox. This information will help the physician protect the baby. For instance, if the mother has an Rh-negative blood type, she may be put on medication to prevent her body from attacking her baby.
Between 12 and 14 weeks, the fetus is screened for genetic disorders like Down's syndrome or other defects. The testing is non-invasive and only involves blood tests and ultrasounds.
Between 15 and 20 weeks, the fetus may be screened for spina bifida using the Alpha fetoprotein test, which has an accuracy of about 80 to 85 percent.
If a woman has certain risk factors, the physician will also administer an ultrasound of the baby to check for abnormalities.
Between 19 and 21 weeks, the obstetrician will order an ultrasound to get images of the baby. The primary purpose of the ultrasound will be to track the growth and position of the fetus. The ultrasound will also be used to check the health and position of the placenta. The ultrasound images will be used to check for abnormalities, as well.
Test for gestational diabetes
During the third trimester (26 to 28 weeks), the doctor will test for gestational diabetes. Often, they will use the glucose tolerance test to find out how the mother is doing. If the mother is found to have gestational diabetes, they will be asked to follow the doctor's treatment plan. In some cases, the treatment will include regular insulin shots.
Test for Group B Streptococcus
This test checks that the mother's blood is free of bacteria that could cause infection in a newborn. It is done at 36 to 37 weeks. If the mother is found to have strep in her blood, the doctor will start treatment to prevent the bacteria from harming the child.
Just before a mother is due, the obstetrician will check on the baby one last time. The mother will visit the hospital or doctor's office, where she will rest for a while. As she rests, the baby will be observed through the fetal monitor. Every time the baby moves, the doctor will check for an increase in the speed of the baby's heartbeat. The heartbeat of a healthy baby will speed up whenever the baby moves.
The obstetrician will be there every step of the way
Your physician will provide the obstetric services you will need to have a healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby.
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