pregnant woman smiling at doctors office

The Importance Of Prenatal Care And Where To Find It

Pregnancy should be a time of joy and excitement. But for some, it can be filled with adversity and doubt. On the road to motherhood, prenatal care is the key to a successful journey.

The Purpose of prenatal visits

Prenatal care is a preventive measure that benefits both mother and child. It consists of regular doctor’s visits that monitor the growth, condition, and behavior of unborn babies. It also allows for early detection of any health-related issues that may hurt the mother-to-be. Its goal is to ensure each party remains safe during and immediately after the pregnancy.

Many expectant mothers struggle to access this necessary service. Without it, they and their children are at risk for multiple complications including preterm birth (birth before 37 weeks), which is one of the leading causes of infant death. Also, babies born too early are susceptible to chronic illnesses that affect the heart, lungs, brain, and immune system.

The most recent statistics show one in 10 infants are born prematurely in the United States. Unfortunately, it’s still difficult to determine the exact cause of preterm birth. It’s one of many reasons prenatal care is such an important factor. With consistent checkups, doctors can keep a watchful eye on any harmful developments that may prevent a child from reaching full-term.

Organizations That can help

There are organizations working tirelessly to bridge the gap between expectant mothers and prenatal care. One of the oldest and most trusted nonprofits, March of Dimes, aids in the “expansion of services for pregnant women, including care coordination, home visiting services and maternal medical homes.” In 2017, their Prematurity Campaign was specifically created to tackle health inequalities and the rise in preterm births which went from 9.6 to 9.8 percent in 2016.

According to the Detroit-based group, Make Your Date, 18 percent of the city’s babies are born premature. Further research indicates “coordinated prenatal care and targeted interventions, when necessary,” could drastically reduce that number. That’s why the organization’s joined forces with physicians, civic leaders, and coalitions to ensure all women have access to crucial medical treatment. They also provide health education, parent training, screenings, and transportation for free or at low-cost.

The urge to secure prenatal care is a group effort. Public health fairs are another way to satisfy this need while directly impacting the community. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan contributes to the cause through Blue Cross Complete, establishing a free baby shower for new moms, moms-to-be, and their children. Attendees receive vital information about prenatal care, breastfeeding, and child safety tips.

All marketplace health care plans are required to cover pregnancy, maternity and newborn care. All Blue Cross plans cover these essential benefits.

If you are a new or expectant mother looking for more health resources, visit these blogs:

Photo credit: PeopleImages

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