Apart from being one of the happiest and exciting times for your body and you, pregnancy does come with a lot of challenges. After your best friend and your family, the first person you perhaps think of calling when you find out you are pregnant is your Doctor. But what if you don’t have an obstetrician you trust or worse you can’t afford insurance or regular visits to your doctor? Would it be possible for you to bring a healthy baby safely into this world? For some, this is a realistic nightmare, while for some others this is an active choice.
When your pregnancy is confirmed, your mind automatically writes out a post-it note for pre-natal vitamins and regular lab panels and check-ups. Pre-natal care is given to expecting mothers right up to the day they actually give birth. This care includes complete check-ups of you and your baby, what vitamins you may need to take, medicines for any other nutritional deficiency you may have, what you should expect at each stage of pregnancy, and counseling, should you opt for it.
Pre-natal care can be given to you by the obstetrician you choose, or even just your family physician if that is your comfort zone.
Doctors recommend pre-natal care as essential to pregnancies because it allows regular monitoring of the baby’s growth and your health. Because you happen to see the doctor once every month up to the third trimester and almost every week after that, pre-natal care acts as an early warning system to flag any causes for concern and help you stay healthy enough. Not all high-risk pregnancies have clear and visible symptoms, and in such situations pre-natal care becomes all the more important.
However, it is possible to deliver a healthy baby with no pre-natal care. In many countries, and indeed in our own, many women do not have access to basic resources and cannot afford the costs of the visits to the doctor, yet healthy babies are born every day. A doctor can only offer you advice and write their prescriptions. How you follow that prescription and take care of yourself is up to you.
Eating healthy and regular exercise are just as crucial as the pre-natal vitamins. Remember that you are now eating for two! Cravings are normal in pregnancy but don’t excuse every half-litre tub of ice cream you eat. Try to plan ahead for healthier meal options, and notice what your cravings suggest.
Pre-natal care, although recommended and essential, can be really helpful to women who are not aware of what they should expect when they are pregnant. This could be because they did not grow up in joint family set-ups or have not been around other pregnant women. If you are not able to afford proper pre-natal care, try and reach out to a support group of mothers near you.
Many urban areas now also have maternity centers which serve as quasi-care centers, see if you can access one of these.
Try and contact a qualified mid-wife who can give you sound advice, she may need fewer meetings than a doctor with you or you may find her more affordable.
At the least, if you are comfortable, you could contact your family physician and schedule once-a-trimester appointment or an emergency appointment, should one be necessary.
If you do have access to affordable pre-natal care or have insurance, do schedule and maintain your appointments with your doctor. This will go a long way in creating a medical record to be consulted during the final stages of labour for your medical team, and also to start off the record for your baby. Who knows? You may even be able to advise an expecting mother who cannot afford pre-natal care on a non-medical level.
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