Benefits of Early Prenatal Care
What is the point of prenatal care?
- Because that’s what people say you should do?
- To check your blood pressure? Why?
- To make sure someone will catch the baby?
- To listen to baby’s heart tones? What do baby’s heart tones tell you?
- To confirm what you’re already feeling?
- To tell you what supplements to take?
- To find something you might be missing?
The main benefits someone receives from prenatal care is early intervention to prevent complications and the relationship that is developed between a midwife and the family.
Much of prenatal health is determined prior to conception. After this, there is little a midwife can do to help prevent complications unless care begins early. Once someone comes late to care (20 weeks or later), we’re mostly just managing symptoms and hoping for the best. Fortunately, when there is one whole fee for all the prenatal, birth, and postpartum care (instead of being paid-per-visit) there are no financial-benefits to waiting later in your pregnancy to start care. In fact, you’ll likely end up spending MORE money on treatment, supplements, and managing complications than if you started early with prevention!
If you want the best chance at preventing complications like anemia, pre-eclampsia, and postpartum hemorrhage, having at least one visit in the first trimester to discuss lifestyle, nutrition, relationships, history of trauma, and especially obtain labwork, is ideal. Even if you don’t continue regular visits until after 20 weeks, this early initial visit is the foundation part of preventative midwifery care. How many nagging conversations about blood sugar, protein, hydration, kidney stress, anemia, elevated blood pressure, swelling, headaches, and fetal growth, amniotic fluid levels, and too-common aches and pains could we avoid just by getting things off to a good start, possibly even before conception?
The trust and comfort that can be obtained through regular visits also creates a scenario for a mom to be more likely to share the realities of her life and for her and her husband to feel calm when the midwife steps into her birth space during labor, increasing oxytocin and reducing complications of birth.
Traditional Midwives (not necessarily modern medical midwives) specialize in wellness counseling, nutrition and bodywork guidance, and prevention of complications. We can assess this through diet and lifestyle journals, the color of your skin, the color of your urine, and questions we can ask about daily habits and relationships. We can assess this through a few non-invasive techniques like checking blood pressure and palpating your baby within your belly. The only way for us to fully get a picture of you and your baby’s well-being, and to actually make a difference for you and baby, is for you to share honestly how you eat, live, feel, and what you do to make the changes that are suggested… and for you to have enough time to make any of the necessary changes by coming to care near your first trimester.
While it is common for women that have had multiple babies to not feel like early visits are necessary, we are more likely to have health imbalances the more children we have, the older we get, and especially if our body has not been given adequate time and care between pregnancies. Ideally, we would have at least 18 months between pregnancies with balanced nourishment before conceiving again. This gives the uterus, abdominal and pelvic floor muscles, and adrenals time to replenish. This time spaced between pregnancies is common with women that exclusively breastfeed for 1 year.
Another benefit of starting care early is that midwives are much more likely to have space on their calendar for your birth season. This allows us to plan our radius better as we typically limit the amount of due dates we have in a month and serve areas 1-2 hours from where we live without backup options in some areas. Families that come to care early are looking forward to our support and it can be difficult at times to squeeze someone in when they come to care later in their pregnancy.
If you’re looking for care, I would love to know (as soon as you know) if I should look forward to your birth season on my calendar (even if this changes), and to plan a visit for a hello and labwork around 10-12 weeks. Reach out at www.MOVbirth.com.