Obstetrics is the area of medicine that specializes in the care of women during pregnancy and childbirth. If you are expecting a baby, it is an important element of your healthcare to ensure you and your baby stay as healthy as possible during pregnancy and beyond.
Although pregnancy is an exciting time, it can also be daunting and carry risks to both the mother and baby. Obstetric care during pregnancy can help minimize these risks and ensure you and your baby stay healthy. Your obstetric team may consist of a midwife, nurses, an obstetrician, and maternal and fetal medicine specialists. Your pregnancy, health, age, and other factors will determine the type of care you need.
Routine Pregnancy Care
During pregnancy, it is recommended that you get obstetric care at regular stages for the duration of your pregnancy. This is so that your health and your baby’s growth and development can be closely monitored throughout each stage ofpregnancy and any concerns can be picked up and investigated at their earliest stages when treatment is typically most effective.
Usually, you will have your first checkup during the first 6-8 weeks of pregnancy. After this, if you are healthy and have no complicating risk factors, you can generally expect to see a member of your obstetric team:
- Every 4 weeks until the 28th week of pregnancy, then
- Every 2 weeks until 36 weeks, then
- Once a week until delivery
Identifying Pregnancy Related Problems at Their Earliest Stages
At each visit, you will have certain checks, such as your blood pressure and weight, and from 22 weeks and on, the size and shape of your uterus will be measured (to assess whether the fetus is growing and developing normally).Your provider will check if you are up to date on your vaccinations. In some cases, you may need vaccinations to protect yourself and your unborn child.Your baby’s heartbeat may be monitored at your visits. You can also expect to have some tests done during your pregnancy, which may include:
- Urine tests, to test for gestational diabetes and preeclampsia
- Blood tests, to determine your Rh factor and to assess for conditions such as HIV and STIs
- Prenatal screening or diagnostic tests, to detect birth defects or chromosomal problem in the fetus
Ultrasound scans are used to check if your baby is developing as they should and to help identify any concerns. The number of ultrasounds you need during pregnancy may vary depending on factors such as whether the pregnancy is high risk or if there is a medical concern. In some cases, a scan maybe recommended during early pregnancy to estimate the age of the fetus, confirm a healthy pregnancy, and diagnose multiple pregnancies. It may also be used to check for ectopic pregnancy, the source of bleeding, or signs of miscarriage.
As your baby develops, ultrasound scans are used to check:
- For any congenital or developmental abnormalities
- The size and position of the baby
- The condition and position of the placenta
- The amount of amniotic fluid
Prior to delivery, ultrasound can be used to help plan a safe birth, such as checking for opening or shortening of the cervix and to confirm the position of the baby and the umbilical cord.
Screening tests can’t make a definitive diagnosis, but if the results indicate an increased risk for a genetic disorder, your obstetric team will discuss your options for diagnostic tests to confirm the diagnosis. However, some diagnostic tests, such as chorionic villus sampling and amniocentesis, can carry a slight risk of miscarriage.
Obstetrics for High-Risk Pregnancies
Certain women are considered high risk and will therefore require specialist care to manage the risk of complications during pregnancy. Maternal and fetal medicine specialists have advanced training and experience managing complicated pregnancies and can work alongside your regular obstetrics provider to address and minimize risks and to ensure you and your baby remain healthy throughout your pregnancy journey.
Factors that may mean you are considered high-risk include:
- A multiple baby pregnancy
- If you are over the age of 35
- If apre-existing health condition exists, such as diabetes, a heart condition, or hypertension(high blood pressure)
- An abnormal placental positioning
- If you are obese
- A bleeding or clotting disorder
- Rh incompatibility
- A history of miscarriage or stillbirth
- An unhealthy lifestyle
Some conditions can develop during pregnancy and make a pregnancy high-risk, such as gestational diabetes, preeclampsia, eclampsia, or preterm labor. Preeclampsia or Rh incompatibility are serious but manageable conditions. They require treatment and ongoing monitoring to prevent complications.
Education and Support to Ensure a Healthy Pregnancy
Your obstetric healthcare team will work with you to develop a customized healthcare plan to ensure you pregnancy goes as smoothly as possible. They will be able to answer all your questions about prenatal care, labor and delivery, and post-partum care.
Your providers can also provide guidance and help you stay healthy during pregnancy and after your baby is born. This can include nutritional counselling, physical activity during pregnancy, lifestyle changes, recommending vitamins and supplements you should take, such as folic acid,and lactation consulting.
Obstetrics Care in Syracuse, NY
If you are looking for expert care during your pregnancy and beyond, visit the experienced and compassionate providers at University OB/GYN Associates. We specialize in women’s health care and provide obstetrical and gynecological health care throughout all stages of life. Our highly trained women’s healthcare specialists are here to provide support and reassurance through every stage of your pregnancy.
To learn more about our obstetric services or to make an appointment, call University OB/GYN Associates at (315) 464-5162. To serve you effectively, we have multiple locations in Syracuse for your convenience.