Healthy children begin with healthy mothers. That’s why it’s recommended that pregnant moms get regular checkups as soon as they think are pregnant – or even better, when they are thinking about becoming pregnant.
As Andrea McGlynn, Director of Clinical Services at CountyCare, notes, “Pregnancy is a potentially life-changing experience.”
So for pregnant women, it’s a good idea to identify a prenatal provider that you connect with and make the most of prenatal visits before the baby is due, McGlynn said.
CountyCare, Cook County Health’s Medicaid managed care plan, offers a variety of prenatal providers: family doctors and obstetricians, nurse-midwives and nurse practitioners. Pregnant women can go to any in-network providers, even a different primary care provider, for prenatal care. During the first visit, the doctor or nurse will ask you lots of questions about yourself, including:
- Your last period and possible due date;
- Past pregnancies;
- Medical conditions;
- Your medications;
- Tobacco and alcohol use.
Your doctor will do a complete physical exam and order lab tests for blood and urine. You will talk about the estimated due date for birth. This date helps everyone count the weeks of pregnancy up to 40 weeks. But this date may not be when your baby is born. Fully grown babies may arrive a couple of weeks before or after the due date.
At your first visit, you and your doctor will talk about your life and your pregnancy. These conversations can continue throughout the rest of your prenatal visits. Follow-up prenatal visits will also include checks of your weight, blood pressure, and the growing baby. There will be time to talk about diet, exercise, sleep, how you are feeling and preparing for birth and parenting.
When to See the Doctor
Your personal appointment schedule will be set by your doctor. But prenatal visits usually follow this schedule:
4 until 28 weeks: One visit every 4 weeks
28 to 36 weeks: Two visits every two to three weeks
36 weeks to delivery: One or more visits per week
It’s also important to see your provider after the baby is born, too, McGlynn pointed out. You should try to make at least one appointment for yourself at 3 to 7 weeks after your birth.
And remember: prenatal care is about more than just your medical needs. Emotions are important, too.
If you are feeling depressed, having trouble with substance abuse, or need support, you can talk to your prenatal provider for a behavioral health referral. CountyCare members can also call 312-864-8200/855-444-1661 (toll-free) / 711 (TDD/TTY) and press option 3. A full list of behavioral health providers is also available at www.countycare.com/find-a-provider.
In addition, a CountyCare coordinator can connect you with local community resources including: prenatal wellness, birth, breastfeeding and parenting. Contact your care coordinator at 312-864-8200, Options 5 -> 6, to help you find programs near you.