You and Your Health Care Team
Prenatal care involves regular medical check-ups with a health care provider. During these appointments, the health care provider will assess your and your baby’s health, provide you with important information to keep you both healthy, and answer any questions that you might have.
You have a choice in who provides your prenatal care. This will depend on your preferences, where you want to give birth, and the health of you and your baby. It is important to have a health care provider you trust and feel comfortable with. The Ontario Health Insurance Plan (OHIP) covers all routine prenatal care.
When you first find out you are pregnant, you should contact your family doctor. If they do not delivery babies, they may provide you with care for the first part of your pregnancy and then transfer your care to one of the following later in your pregnancy. If you have an uncomplicated pregnancy, you can refer yourself to PIPC or midwifery care in early pregnancy.
- Partners in Pregnancy Clinic (PIPC): A team of family doctors, nurses, social workers, a dietitian, physician assistant and others. PIPC provides pregnancy care, their doctors deliver babies in the hospital, and they care for mothers and babies to six weeks after birth. PIPC refers to obstetricians if needed.
- Kawartha Community Midwives: A team of registered health care professionals who provide care to mothers having a low risk pregnancy. If complications arise, midwives refer to an obstetrician. Midwives deliver babies in the hospital, in their clinic, or in the home. They care for mothers and babies up to six weeks after birth.
- An obstetrician: A doctor who specializes in medical and surgical care of pregnancy. Obstetricians provide care to mothers during pregnancy, they deliver babies in the hospital, and they care for mothers to six weeks after birth. Obstetricians are skilled at diagnosing and treating pregnancy complications. To be referred to an obstetrician, speak to your family doctor. Following are obstetricians (OBs) in our community:
- Evolve Women’s Health (Dr. Dallaire, Dr. Pakenham, Dr. Hill, Dr. Gerster)
- Dr. Harrington/Dr. Kramer
- Dr. Sobowale
You will see your health care provider for regular check-ups every:
- Month during the first 30 weeks of pregnancy
- Two weeks from week 30-36.
- Week (or more often if needed) from week 36 until you have your baby.
Your first prenatal check-up will usually be longer and include:
- Questions about your medical, mental health, family history, and lifestyle.
- A physical exam – a pap test is done only if you are due for one.
- Urine test.
- Blood work – to test for such things as anemia (low iron), to determine your blood type and Rh factor (positive or negative), and to determine if you are immune to viruses such as the German measles (rubella), hepatitis B, syphilis, and HIV.
- Advice on immunizations.
- Information about how to have a healthy pregnancy.
At follow-up prenatal care visits, your health care provider will check:
- How you are feeling.
- Your weight.
- Your blood pressure.
- Your urine as needed for bacteria, sugar, and protein.
- Baby’s heartbeat (after 10-12 weeks).
- Baby’s growth by measuring your abdomen (in the second trimester).
- Baby’s position (once baby is big enough).
At your visits you will have the opportunity to talk about your concerns, to ask any questions that you may have, and be linked to helpful community services. Your prenatal visits are a great way to learn as much as you can about having a baby.
Communicating with Your Health Care Provider
Your health care provider shares the same goal for you and your baby to be healthy.
Communication is key to a good relationship and getting the best care possible.
To get the most out of your visits:
- Write down your questions before your visit. At the beginning of your appointment, let your health care provider know that you have a few questions.
- Be open and honest, even if you feel uncomfortable and embarrassed.
- Ask if you need something explained, reworded, or written down.
- Invite your partner or a support person to come with you. They may remember something you missed or forgot.
Making Decisions About Your Care
Throughout your pregnancy journey you will make many health decisions.
It can be confusing and overwhelming when you worry if you’ll make the right decision. The BRAIN acronym can help guide you.
B … What are the benefits? How will this help my baby or me?
R … What are the risks? How will this affect my baby or me?
A … What are my alternatives?
I … What is my intuition or inner voice telling me?
N … No or Not now or Need time – For most decisions you have time to think them through.
Think about what really matters to you. What are your beliefs, values, preferences and life circumstances? Share these with your health care team.
Consider whether you have the support you need.
Any decision you make needs to feel right for you and your health care provider should respect your choice.