Pregnancy can change your body and health in a myriad of ways, and of course, it's a complicated process for the baby you're carrying, too. Appropriate and affordable healthcare for women in our country is at the verge of being pulled, and if you're pregnant or trying to conceive, you might be especially concerned for what's to come. Can you have a healthy baby without seeing a doctor? Some moms without insurance find this to be reality while some simply skip out on their ultrasounds and appointments. But is it safe?
According to Dr. Adrienne Zertuche, MD, MPH, OB-GYN and Georgia Maternal and Infant Health Research Group President, it is possible to have a healthy baby even if you do not get prenatal care, but, she notes, "I do not recommend skipping out on doctor’s visits or recommended labs and ultrasounds." Meeting with your obstetrician frequently throughout your pregnancy provides for close monitoring of the health of both you and your baby, Zertuche tells Romper. "Early detection of complications is absolutely vital to formulating a plan of care for high-risk pregnancies. These visits are also important because they give you a chance to hear general guidance, ask questions, and communicate your preferences regarding your birth experience."
So, what is prenatal care exactly? As the March of Dimes noted, prenatal care is medical care you get during pregnancy. At each visit, your healthcare provider checks on you and your growing baby, offers input on staying healthy, and answers any questions you might have regarding your pregnancy.
You can ask your provider anything — even personal things you might be embarrassed about. They will be there to support you in every way possible during your pregnancy and after.
Getting early and regular prenatal care can help you have a healthy pregnancy and a full-term baby, which gives your baby the right amount of time he needs in the womb to grow and develop. NPR noted that women without prenatal care are seven times more likely to give birth to premature babies, and five times more likely to have infants who pass away. The consequences are not only poor health, but also higher costs in the long run. The average medical cost for a baby with problems of prematurity is $79,000, compared to $1,000 for a healthy newborn. In fact, studies show that every dollar spent on prenatal care can result in a savings of $5 thereafter.
Prenatal care is extremely important during pregnancy, particularly in determining when there are health problems and treating those problems when possible, according to Fit Pregnancy. This care also minimizes risks and provides guidance, education, and structure so patients can be as healthy as possible.
However, it's also true that no doctor will be able to make you healthy — that's all on you. It’s something you have to make an effort to maintain within yourself for the sake of your own body and your baby's. Of course, not everyone has access to the same resources and support system, but you have to take what you have and do the best that you can.
Considering what you breathe, drink, and eat is also majorly impactful in sustaining a healthy body and pregnancy. Exercising regularly is essential for brain, heart, bone and immune-system health and, just as vital, is your mental health — sleep, low stress levels, and periods of meditation can all help to support a healthy pregnancy.
Dr. Boyd Cooper, MD and OB-GYN for over 50 years tells Romper, "Countless healthy babies are born all over the world, without any prenatal care. We are all here, and have been before modern technology. But, there are many babies that could be saved by having prenatal care, therefore, your chances of having a strong, healthy baby increases with prenatal care."
If nothing else, Boyd continues, the ability to at least understand if there is an issue can be determined prior to birth. When available and accessible, getting prenatal care during pregnancy is the better choice.
If you're unsure if you have access to appropriate medical care during your pregnancy, check with your state's health department. Most states offer programs to help women pay for prenatal care, and so do many social service organizations. You don't have to navigate this alone.
Check out Romper's new video series, Romper's Doula Diaries:
Check out the entire Romper's Doula Diaries series and other videos on Facebook and the Bustle app across Apple TV, Roku, and Amazon Fire TV.