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The main objective of ante-natal care is to monitor the health of the pregnant women, as well as the health and development of the baby, so that it culminates in the delivery of a healthy baby, with a healthy  mother. It can help predict possible problems with pregnancy, labour or birth, so that they can be either avoided or treated.

The concept of organised ante-natal care was introduced in the United States as early as 1911, when women were urged to enroll for medical advice, as early as possible in pregnancy. The systematic ante-natal care helps in reducing maternal (relating to the mother) and foetal morbidity and mortality.

Goals of Ante-Natal Care

In vast majority of the cases, pregnancy and childbirth are natural events that often proceed without problems, however antenatal care helps to :

Define the health status of the mother and foetus.
Determine the gestational age (the age of the embryo counting from the time of fertilization) of the foetus.
Identify those few patients, who may develop problems, so that appropriate   treatment can be given.
To initiate a plan for continuing care during pregnancy and post pregnancy (post partum) period.

Your First Visit

Your first antenatal visit will probably be as soon as you miss the period, to  confirm the pregnancy. Please consider all these visits to the doctor as time well spent. Before every visit make a note of things you would want to discuss with the doctor, for pregnancy amnesia is famous and makes you forget things easily.
Ante-natal care will also give you an opportunity to get familiar with your obstretician. It will help the obstretician  to know more about her patientís physical and mental framework. A visit to the hospital in which you plan to deliver, will  benefit you by becoming familiar with the surroundings, when you go in for labour.

During Ante-natal care your obstretician will do several tests and ask you questions to make sure you and your baby are fit and healthy. Most of these tests are routine, but if your doctor anticipates a certain problem, special additional tests will have to be done.

On Your First Visit The Doctor Will:

Ask You A Detail History Involving

Menstrual history.
History of any existing medical problems e.g. Asthma, Tuberculosis, Jaundice, Diabetes and Hypertension.
History of contraceptive usage.
History of smoking / consumption of alcohol.
History of all medications.
History of outcome of previous pregnancies e.g. any abortion, any D& C (Dilatation & Curettage) or still birth.

Conduct A Physical Examination

Estimation of height and weight : To ascertain proper growth of the baby.
Blood pressure measurement : Check for pregnancy induced blood pressure, which usually rises in the 2nd or 3rd trimester.
Examination of the breasts : For inverted nipples which makes breast feeding   difficult.
General body check up : Ears, nose, throat examination, heart, lungs, abdomen,   skin, teeth and extremities

Obstretical Examination
A gentle per speculum examination is conducted to check for any excess    vaginal discharge i.e. an instrument called speculum is put into the vagina to   examine the appearance of the vagina.
A per vaginal examination is conducted to confirm the stage of pregnancy i.e. a gentle introduction of index and middle finger into the vagina to feel the size of the uterus.
Per abdomen examination for height of fundus of uterus and FHS (foetal heart sounds) in later weeks i.e. feeling of the abdomen for determining the top of the uterus (fundus of uterus).

Some Routine Laboratory Tests
Haemoglobin estimation: to rule out anaemia.
Urine Test:  to rule out urinary infection.
On the 1st visit the blood group and Rh factor is ascertained.

Your Obstretician Will Further Instruct You On

* Your diet.
* Relaxation, sleep and recreation.

* Bowel habits, bathing and clothing.

* Sexual intercourse.

* Smoking and alcohol.

* Yoga and exercises.

* Working women life style.

* Expected date of delivery (EDD).
* Finally, she will give you a record of everything which you need to take with
    you, on every ante-natal visit. She will further advise you on the frequency of
   the antenatal visits.


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