There are many reasons why some women wait until the 11th hour to show up for prenatal care and all of them are equally frustrating. For teens, it’s fear and sometimes denial that they’re even pregnant. For women with several children, it becomes more complicated. They know that they need to see a professional but the distractions of life gets in the way. They postpone making an appointment because of work obligations, transportation issues, or lack of insurance and then use the emergency room as a back-up. By the time they seek professional services, their pregnancy is in trouble.

My long-standing patient was a perfect example. Her first prenatal visit was very late and by the second visit she developed complications. Of course, she had the worst insurance plan and finding a specialist that accepted it was a challenge.

As I began to discuss complication, she burst into tears. She said she was scared; she had x-number of children; she didn’t have transportation; why can’t we take the baby now? What if, what if, what if? I had a waiting room filled with patients but I allowed her to vent, and then asked a simple question: Why didn’t she come to see us sooner? There was a moment of silence and then she rattled off a list of excuses. Gratefully, a specialist agreed to see her the following day. Why is it important to receive early prenatal care? Let me count the ways:

  1. The earlier you have an ultrasound; the more accurate your due date
  2. An accurate due date will allow proper scheduling of an induction of labor should you encounter a problem and reduce the chances of the baby being born too soon or too late because of wrong dates.
  3. The diagnosis of high risk problems such as Gestational Diabetes, Pre-eclampsia, placenta previa, anemia, poor fetal growth and a host of other issues can be detected BEFORE they spin out of control.
  4. Every pregnant woman, even those with “undocumented” citizenship are entitled to temporary Medicaid for 45 days based on your income and there are federally funded community health centers for those without insurance.
  5. No matter how many times a woman becomes pregnancy, each pregnancy is different.

Small changes can make big differences. Please begin your prenatal care early.

Do you know how to anticipate and manage the unexpected events that could occur during your pregnancy? You will if you purchase The Smart Mother’s Guide to a Better Pregnancy available on Amazon.com or wherever books are sold.