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What Does Prenatal Care Look Like? 

What is Prenatal Care? 

Prenatal care is the medical care a woman receives while pregnant. This care typically begins around the 8th week of the pregnancy. The primary function of this care is to catch potential concerns, reduce medical risks, and ensure that both the baby and the mother are healthy throughout the pregnancy. It allows doctors to be able to catch any medical issues or risks early in the pregnancy and give them enough time for those concerns to be treated. 

Why is Prenatal Care Important? 

Medical care during pregnancy is vital to ensure the health of the mother and baby. It is three times more likely for a baby who did not receive care in the womb to have a lower weight at birth and five times more likely to pass away at or before birth. The risks that can be detected and prevented by doctors could end up saving a child’s life. 

This care not only brings medical attention and relief to the baby and mothers, but it also offers mothers support throughout their pregnancy. Pregnancy can be very hard on a woman, both physically and mentally. Prenatal care offers an outlet for women to voice their concerns to a professional who can either affirm them or ease their minds. 

What Does Prenatal Care Practically Look Like? 

As stated above, prenatal care often begins 8 weeks (about 2 months) into the pregnancy. For the first 28 weeks, according to UCR Health, the mother will normally have about one visit per month. From week 28 to week 36 of the pregnancy, a woman may have a visit as frequently as every 2 weeks. Once the mother is 36 weeks into her pregnancy, she will often begin going weekly for monitoring.  

During prenatal care appointments, doctors will often take vitals and give physical exams. It may also include tests such as ultrasounds, blood tests, and more. The involved physician will ensure to answer all the mother’s questions and monitor both her health and the baby’s. 

How Accessible is Prenatal Care for Mothers? 

Unfortunately, prenatal care is not always accessible to all women. These appointments can be hard to book due to insurance or other financial issues. Statistically, only 75.6% of women in 2021 received prenatal care that was early enough (at 8 weeks) and adequate enough. According to a separate study, between 2020 and 2021, around 2.1% of mothers had no care, 12.5% had inadequate care, 9.9% had intermediate care, 41.2$ had adequate care, and only 34.4% had more than adequate care. Looking at these statistics we see that women do not always have accessible and adequate prenatal care. 

That is why a place like Caring Network works to bring accessible services to women all over Illinois. We strive to help women feel supported both emotionally and medically. We work to help women find the care they need for both them and their babies. If someone visiting a Caring Network center does not have insurance or access to prenatal care, our compassionate pregnancy consultants help connect her with resources and information for her next steps. We are here to come alongside women during their pregnancy decisions & beyond! To learn more about the work we do, check out our “Women’s Centers” page!

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