We are screening and restricting access to the hospital. Learn about our COVID-19 patient and visitor guidelines and the COVID-19 vaccine.

How prenatal care keeps mom and baby healthy

(Pictured above) Dr. Bryn Parker, a family practice obstetrician at Gritman|MFM, performs an ultrasound on Laurel, who is expecting her first child soon. 

Our compassionate and experienced staff at the Gritman Medical Center Family Birth Center and Moscow Family Medicine are committed to being there through every step of your pregnancy to ensure you and your newborn are as healthy as possible.

And we know that whether it is your first baby or you are an experienced mother, seeking early and regular prenatal care is key to a healthy pregnancy.

“Having regular prenatal care helps us provide the best care for the mom and baby,” Dr. Bryn Parker, a family practice physician obstetrician at Gritman|MFM, said.

What is prenatal care?
Prenatal exams are important both for monitoring your own and your baby’s health and for giving you and your health professional time to build a comfortable and trusting relationship.

We recently created a Prenatal Care and Appointments page packed full of information so you know what to expect.

At each prenatal visit, you’ll be weighed, have your abdomen measured, and have your blood pressure and urine checked. You will also have an opportunity to discuss your list of pregnancy concerns or problems with your provider.

“Childbirth can sometimes be fairly scary and unexpected things happen,” Dr. Parker said, “so forming that relationship and developing a level of trust with your providers and the people taking care of you by going to regular prenatal appointments makes navigating crises, emergencies or unforeseen complications much, much easier.”

When should I start having prenatal care appointments?
When possible, it is highly recommended for women thinking about getting pregnant to schedule a preconception appointment with an obstetrician. The appointment will help make sure you are healthy when you get pregnant and that any health conditions that may affect your pregnancy are discussed.

“We always recommend preconception appointments when people are thinking about having a baby,” Dr. Parker said. “It is really important to get women on prenatal vitamins before they conceive because the most benefit is in the first four weeks before you get pregnant in terms of preventing the things we are trying to prevent.”

If you have not consulted with your physician before getting pregnant, it is important to make an appointment as soon as you know you are pregnant. Your first prenatal visit will provide information that can be used to check for any problems as your pregnancy progresses. It is recommended that your first prenatal visit be scheduled between 6 and 12 weeks. Dr. Parker said the first visit will typically be about 40 minutes, with subsequent appointments taking less time.

“Most of my first-time moms come with a list of questions every single appointment and we spend the first 10 minutes or so answering all the questions they have amassed,” Dr. Parker said. “It is a very unknown time for first-time mothers and it is really nice to be able to answer their questions and give them reasonable expectations and help guide them through the process.”

How many appointments will I have?
If your pregnancy is going well, you will have a regular schedule of prenatal checkups, which will become more frequent as you near your due date. A typical prenatal schedule is:

  • After the first prenatal visit, every 4 weeks until week 28 of pregnancy
  • Every two weeks through week 36 of pregnancy
  • Every week during the final month of pregnancy

At different times in your pregnancy, you may have additional exams and tests performed. Although some are routine, others are only done when you ask for them, when a problem is suspected or if you have a risk factor for a problem.

“If things work beautifully in pregnancy, not a lot of intervention is needed, but there are things like moms having higher blood pressure or gestational diabetes, or babies not having enough blood flow from the placenta, so every appointment we have is an opportunity to check in on all of those things and make sure that mom and her baby are the healthiest possible,” Dr. Parker said.

How do I schedule an appointment?
If you don’t already have an obstetrician, call Moscow Family Medicine at 208-882-2011 or request an appointment online.