Pregnancy care—a.k.a. prenatal care—is essential to ensuring the health and well-being of pregnant women and their babies. Pregnancy care is provided by obstetricians, gynecologists, certified nurse-midwives, family health practitioners, and perinatologists (for extremely risky pregnancies).
A woman’s specific healthcare provider or team of providers will support and monitor her and her baby for the duration of the pregnancy, checking for normal weight gain and the baby’s rate of growth and development, to minimize risk of pregnancy-related complications.
Pregnancy care providers also educate women on medications that are safe to take during pregnancy, proper nutrition, appropriate exercise, activity restrictions, and management of pain and discomfort pregnant women often experience—like morning sickness, fatigue, constipation, and heartburn.
Both mother and baby will require exams—scheduled at specific points during pregnancy—as well as routine ultrasounds and health screenings for issues related to blood pressure, blood type, genetic disorders, sexually transmitted diseases, and diabetes.
Ideally, prenatal care begins before pregnancy, to ensure good health and proper vitamin intake, and establish healthy habits in women who plan to become pregnant. Pregnancy care also involves the cessation of habits that can negatively affect pregnancy—like smoking cigarettes and drinking alcohol—and limiting caffeine intake—which can increase the risk of miscarriage.