During pregnancy, women can expect to have frequent checkups with their obstetrician. Prenatal care, or the care you get while pregnant, is important not just for mothers, but for baby as well. But what is prenatal care, and why do women need it?

It can seem tedious to keep so many appointments with your doctor, but regular check-ins ensure that your baby is healthy, and can help doctors find and treat problems early on. Women who do not seek prenatal care are three times more likely to have premature births, and five times more likely to suffer a loss of their baby. Positive maternity outcomes start with pre and postnatal care.

What Happens During a Prenatal Visit?

During your first prenatal visit, your doctor will perform a complete physical exam, a pelvic exam, and Pap test. They will also order bloodwork, discuss your personal and family health histories, check your blood pressure, and calculate your due date. The appointments that follow consist of more routine bloodwork, checking weight and blood pressure, and monitoring your baby’s heartbeat.

Your doctor will also perform tests to detect preeclampsia, diabetes, any diseases or infections, and screen for any genetic or chromosomal disorders. During prenatal visits, your doctor will also discuss diet and exercise, which can help ease discomfort from backaches and swelling. Your doctor will also discuss what to expect during the postpartum period, or the first six to twelve weeks after birth.

“Pregnancy and childbirth is a major event in a woman’s life. It is our job as Obstetricians to prepare women and guide them through the journey including the recovery and adjustment in the postpartum journey. Throughout pregnancy there are many tests to be done and decisions to be made. No two pregnancies are the same.

We are here to provide guidance every step along the way to allow you to have the healthiest and safest pregnancy possible while also building a lasting relationship with you. The prenatal visits are a great time for patients and providers to get to know each other and plan for the upcoming big day. The postpartum visits are just as important. Your physician will be there for you to help with the adjustment process and to make sure you are recovering well.”

Philip Rhoney Fending, MD

OB/GYN, Catholic Health

The Importance of Postnatal Care Following Delivery

While a lot of attention is given to prenatal care, postnatal care is equally important. When a baby is born, mothers experience a whirlwind of emotions and many physical changes as they begin to care for their newborn. Your first postnatal care visit should be within three weeks after birth.

During postnatal visits, your doctor will perform a physical exam, provide breastfeeding instruction, nutrition and exercise consulting, and check in on your mental health. Many mothers experience what is known as the “baby blues” the first few weeks post birth. While the “baby blues” tend to go away on their own, many mothers continue to struggle with feelings of depression, anxiety, insomnia, mood swings, and crying spells.

The “baby blues” can begin within 2 days after delivery, and can last for up to two weeks. Mothers who are experiencing more severe symptoms that last longer may be suffering from postpartum depression. Postpartum depression is common and treatable with medication or talking with a licensed mental health provider.

During your postnatal visits, it’s important to bring up any concerns and discuss how you are feeling emotionally. It is normal to be overtired and anxious due to lack of sleep and self-care, while caring for a newborn. These visits are intended to help alleviate some of the stress you may be feeling as your doctor can prescribe an anti-depressant or refer you to a therapist.

More Than a Routine Visit

Pre and postnatal visits are more than just routine appointments, they ensure a safe pregnancy and a healthy mom and baby. Our OB/GYN experts provide comprehensive, quality pre and postnatal care, ensuring you have a complication-free delivery and postpartum period.

Sisters of Charity Hospital ranks nationally among the best hospitals for maternity care, receiving a “High Performing” hospital designation from U.S. News & World Report for maternity care in 2023-2024. Our commitment to providing safe, high-quality care for mom and baby remains our priority. Schedule a hospital tour and see why we are one of the best hospitals for labor & delivery in Western New York!

Find an OB/GYN Near You
Call (716) 923-7152

Find an OB/GYN Near You
Call (716) 923-7152