By WVUA 23 Web Writer Rebecca Griesbach

The importance of prenatal care is something that not just the woman but the whole family needs to understand.

Dr. Cathy Skinner is a family physician obstetrician at University Medical Center. Pregnant women, she said, should schedule appointments with their doctors as soon as possible, especially if they have chronic medical conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes or thyroid problems.

“Early prenatal care is vital to reducing the morbidity and mortality of Mom and baby,” she said.

Skinner also recommended pregnant women take prenatal vitamins with folic acid, which can prevent birth defects in the baby’s brain and spinal cord.

Pregnant women should also put an end to unhealthy habits, Skinner said.

“If you smoke, quit,” she said. “If you use any other substances, try to quit those as well.”

Babies that are born to moms who smoke have a higher risk of prematurity and low birth weight at delivery,. Skinner said. After birth, they can also be at risk of chronic ear infections or dying of sudden infant death syndrome.

Whether in a big city or a rural area, Skinner said women everywhere face the same challenges during pregnancy.

“In today’s great medical society, we take care of a lot of women that might not have been able to get pregnant 50 years ago,” Skinner said.

An early appointment with a doctor can provide women, especially those who have difficulty getting pregnant, with more intensive care.

“There are lots of places along a pregnancy where bad things can happen, from the very earliest moment until the very end, ” Skinner said. “Those can be best managed by a physician who is monitoring those conditions.”



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