When to Start Prenatal Care

Whether a pregnancy is planned or unexpected, starting prenatal care should be at the top of every expecting mother’s to-do list. The first prenatal visit should occur between the first 6-8 weeks of pregnancy. According to the NIH (2017), “pre-pregnancy and prenatal care can help prevent complications and inform women about important steps they can take to protect their infant and ensure a healthy pregnancy.”  

Women who are actively trying to become pregnant should have a discussion with their doctor. Many lifestyle changes can be started before pregnancy such as healthy eating habits and exercise routines. A woman may begin taking a daily prenatal vitamin before becoming pregnant. One of the most important supplements to take during pregnancy is folic acid. Taking 400mcg of folic acid daily reduces the risk for neural tube defects (NIH, 2017). All medications (prescriptive and over-the-counter) should be approved by a pharmacist or physician before they are taken to ensure safety and efficacy of use during pregnancy. 

Knowing your insurance status is another top priority. Women who are uninsured and who may qualify for government assistance should submit a Medicaid application as soon as they think they might be pregnant. (Not sure how to start this process? AbbaCare can help. See more information below). Some insurance plans are not accepted by all OB/GYN practices. If a woman has a healthcare facility in mind that she would like to use, she should call that office to find out which insurance plans they accept. This will save time and effort in not having to switch insurance carriers or medical providers down the road. 

Once prenatal care has begun, women can begin to think through other needs she may have during her pregnancy. There are many resources in most communities available to assist pregnant women. (For folks in the Winchester, VA area, here’s a blogpost listing many of them.) These organizations provide various services, including free or low-cost material items and assistance with other needs such as housing and job advancement.

AbbaCare Pregnancy Resource Center provides free pregnancy testing, ultrasounds, prenatal vitamins, and pregnancy education, all 100% FREE of cost. We can also help you start the process of applying for Medicaid, and help you receive early pregnancy care during the time that you are waiting for your Medicaid to kick in. Call 540.665.9660 in Winchester, VA or 304.726.6582 in Martinsburg, WV to learn more.

Source: National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. (2017). What is prenatal care and why is it important? US Department of Health and Human Services, National Institutes of Health.

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