The Importance of Prenatal Care
Prenatal care is widely accepted as an important element in improving pregnancy outcome. (Gorrie, McKinney, Murray, 1998). Prenatal care is defined as care of a pregnant woman during the time in the maternity cycle that begins with conception and ends with the onset of labor. A medical, surgical, gynecologic, obstretic, social and family history is taken (Mosby's Medical, Nursing, and Allied Health Dictionary, 1998). It is important for a pregnant woman as well as our society to know that everything that you do has an effect on your baby. Because so many women opt not to receive the benefits of prenatal care, our society sees the ramification, which include a variety of complications primarily related to the baby. According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommendations, prenatal care must be started prior to the fourth month of gestation and have more than 13 visits to be considered adequate. Any deviation in the guidelines deems the care as inadequate.
The focus of this paper is to inform not just women about the problems that can arise from inadequate care, but our entire society. By being well informed about the benefits of prenatal care, people can make more accurate decisions. We must also focus on the reasons why women choose not to obtain adequate care, and strive to improve medical care in hopes of increasing the number of women who receive prenatal care. It is essential for nurses to have a clear understanding of prenatal care, why some women did not have it, and how to educate clients and families about the benefits.
Incidence, Prevalence, Population
Approximately 475 newborns were born each day to mothers who began prenatal care in the third trimester or had no prenatal care at all (as cited in Gorrie, McKinney, & Murray, 1998). Of this number, 7.3% weighed less than 5lbs. 8oz. and were thus considered low birth weight births. Preterm births increased from 9.4% in 1984 to 11% in 1993(as cited in MCN, 1998). African Americans had low birth weights that more than doubled those of whites and very low birth weights were three times higher. Many of the low birth weight births resulted in death. According to the National Vital Statistics Report, the figures for the United States from 1998 are as follows:
82.8% of mothers received first trimester care
3.9% received late or no care
63.2% of teen mothers age 15-19 received first trimester care
8.8% of teen mothers received late or no care
12.6% was the median number of care visits
While some women who received no prenatal care had normal, uncomplicated births, others did not. Most of the women who did not receive adequate prenatal care gave birth to an underweight and underdeveloped infant. Among the benefits of early, comprehensive prenatal care are decreased risk of preterm deliveries and low birth weight (LBW)-both major predictors of infant morbidity and mortality....