Prenatal care entails medical examinations and screening tests designed to detect potential issues with gestation and its outcomes, along with education and counseling services.
At this appointment, you may receive a blood test for anemia as well as a shot to protect against pertussis (whooping cough). Additionally, you’ll likely receive folic acid supplements and advice regarding healthy eating practices.
At conception, prenatal development begins in its germinal stage when sperm and egg cells combine to create a zygote, marking the beginning of this important journey to healthy babyhood. Over time, this zygote will divide multiple times before implanting itself into your uterine wall successfully and producing all of the hormones needed for gestation to occur successfully.
At eight weeks into embryogenesis, the zygote will begin its journey toward becoming its final form: a fetus. Cells begin to specialize and become organs and systems; for instance, the lungs make surfactant that helps the baby breathe after birth. Meanwhile, neuron migration begins in specific parts of the brain creating primitive neural networks.
At 24 weeks gestation, a fetus will have reached approximately 4.5 inches long and has begun developing fingers, toes, fingerprints and lungs – enough so that a baby born at this stage could survive outside its mother’s womb. Bones begin fusing together during ossification; during this month the fetus may also turn head-down in your uterus in preparation for delivery.
At conception, prenatal care class development begins in its germinal stage when sperm and egg combine to form a zygote. Over the following seven days, this fertilized embryo travels down your fallopian tube until implanting itself within the endometrium of your uterus, whereupon hormones supporting pregnancy begin to be produced by your body – stopping any future menstruation cycles and initiating gestation.
Beginning approximately three weeks post fertilization (doctors date pregnancy from the first day of a woman’s last period), and lasting through about the eighth week gestation, most of your baby’s organs begin to take shape. Your zygote divides and eventually transforms into a fluid-filled ball of cells called a morula; at this stage it will also have developed its protective glycoprotein shell known as zona pellucida.
As the morula continues to develop, it forms a fluid-filled sac inside which contains an initial heartbeat that can be detected with ultrasound technology. At this point, neural tubes that will form your baby’s brain and spinal cord also begin to take form; as its embryo expands further it starts resembling an unborn tadpole or seahorse with large head and protruding tail that later become legs; additionally neural cells start migrating into their correct locations within its brain as well as starting its formation and initial neural networks that begin their formation rudimentary networks in which neural cells start migrating at this stage.
Pregnancy typically lasts 40 weeks, divided into three trimesters. Each trimester brings with it unique events. Among these events, the first 13 weeks of gestation play an especially pivotal role for your unborn baby’s survival and development of major organs and body systems.
After fertilization, an egg elongates and begins to take on human characteristics. Areas that will become the brain and spinal cord swell out across the back of an embryo while other cells divide and create organs and structures. Meanwhile, heart and major blood vessels begin forming, as does a placenta which transports essential nutrients, oxygen, and water for development of organs such as heart.
Your second trimester should see your fetus develop reserves of body fat and their lungs producing surfactant, which aids them in breathing post birth. By the fifth month, most women begin feeling their baby move around; these movements are known as quickenings and can feel like flutters or kicks.
Your fetus will begin to produce lanugo hairs – fuzzy peach fuzz-like coverings which help keep it warm while providing an additional protective layer. At this stage, sleep-wake cycles may develop as well as occasional hiccuping episodes. By week eight however, eyes and ears should begin forming, with hands and feet becoming webbed-like in appearance.
Prenatal care is important because it helps women have healthier pregnancies. Establishing regular appointments with health care providers allows you to spot potential problems early and treat them easily. Studies indicate that women not receiving prenatal care are three times more likely to give birth prematurely while five times more likely to experience low birth weight babies who die at birth.
In most countries, prenatal care typically entails physical examination, urine and blood tests, screening for maternal anemia as well as serum markers of neural tube defects and chromosome abnormalities (optional amniocentesis and chorionic villous sampling for at-risk women), counseling about healthy diet and lifestyle choices, nutritional supplementation to support fetal growth as well as preparation for childbirth and infant care (if applicable) plus social services support if applicable for at-risk women.
At your healthcare appointment, it is essential that you are forthcoming and honest with them about all aspects of your lifestyle – smoking, drinking, drug use and family history of health problems should all be disclosed. Involve them with both work and home environments as well as any chemicals encountered either place; providing this information will enable them to determine the most appropriate course of treatment.
If you are having difficulty affording prenatal care, contact your local health department or family planning clinic – many state programs provide free or reduced-cost prenatal services – or call your health insurance company and see if their plan covers prenatal visits.