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Antenatal care aims to optimize pregnancy outcomes for women and babies, by early detection and management of factors that can adversely affect the health of mother and baby. It allows for general health screening and management of minor ailments of pregnancy. Providing Antenatal care can never be a one man show. From confirmation of pregnancy till delivery many people are involved including the midwife, an obstetrician, an anesthetist, a pediatrician, a neonatal nurse, a sonographer and finally a health visitor.
A Midwife is a trained specialist who provides care and support during pregnancy, birth and post birth. They work in hospitals, maternity units and can also provide care and support at the mother’s home during labour. They are experts on childbirth and monitor the progress of labour by doing repetitive vaginal examinations of the mother to check for e.g dilation. Their job also includes providing education, reassurance and emotional support to the parents. They work as part of a Multidisplinary Team
An obstetrician is a specialized doctor who deals with pregnancy, child birth and postpartum. They manage all the medical issues that a woman may have such as hypertension, diabetes Mellitus and also specialize in managing obstetric emergencies like placenta previa (low lying placenta), hemorrhage(blood loss) and shoulder dystocia. An obstetrician identifies high risk cases early in pregnancy and keeps them under close supervision to prevent any adverse outcomes. They assess the maternal and fetal conditions and help you decide mode and place of delivery. They perform a caesarian section if required.
An anesthetist is a specialist Doctor responsible for giving pain management to patient before during and after operations. Pain relief (Analgesia) is one of the main divisions of anesthesia. They make sure delivery is a pleasant experience for you by giving you various options to make child birth painless. Epidural anesthesia is one of the most reliable and effective analgesia given in labour. For C-section, spinal anesthesia or epidural anesthesia is used, which means the woman is awake and can experience a PAIN-FREE delivery. However, occasionally general anesthesia is required where the prior methods are contraindicated. So an anesthetist evaluates and provides you with various options for making delivery wether normal vaginal or a C-section pain free. They are also responsible for maintaining all the vitals (temperature, blood pressure, heart rate) during the C-section.
A pediatrician is a doctor who specializes in medical conditions affecting infants children and young people. After the birth of the baby, it is very important to have a competent pediatrician on board (usually a neonatologist) examine and screen the baby for any anatomical or metabolic abnormality. The common problems a neonate can have are breathing problems, infections, seizures, jaundice, hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) and feeding difficulties. Congenital abnormalities and prematurity are another important health issues a pediatrician deals with. This can be due to a number of reasons early detection is the key in managing these concerns
They are nurses specialized for neonatal care working in neonatal units. They are specifically trained for different aspects of neonatal care. They manage the major neonatal problems like prematurity. They also have a role in supporting the parents and keeping them informed about the baby’s health in order to alleviate their anxiety. They are responsible for preparing and giving the baby prescribed medications, maintaining the baby’s vitals and maintaining a record of everything. They are a crucial part of the health care team dealing with premature babies and are usually the ones to initiate resuscitation in emergency cases.
They are nurses or midwives who work to raise awareness on health wellbeing and disease prevention. They work with families mainly with children from birth up to five years of age to make sure they have a healthy start in life. They not only provide antenatal and post natal support but assess a child’s growth and development. They play an important role in encouraging breastfeeding and its continuation for the first two years of life. They are usually the first ones to identify cases of child neglect or abuse. Their training in public health enables them to assess the health requirements of an individual and thus providing information and a person centered approach.
A Sonographer is a trained professional who specializes in the use of ultrasound machines, ultrasounds are performed at various intervals during pregnancy. An Ultrasound is required for confirmation of a single normal pregnancy, placental localization, diagnosis of fetal abnormalities and assessment of fetal wellbeing. It also allows screening of downs syndrome and hence lets parents decide termination of pregnancy. Ultrasound early in pregnancy helps in identifying high risk cases like multiple pregnancy (twins, triplets), placenta previa (low lying placenta) and allows the mother to be under close observation. Fetal assessment by monitoring fetal heart rate and amniotic fluid volume can also be done by ultrasonography.
A dietician is a trained health professional who specializes in food and nutrition. The job of the dietician is to provide general pregnancy dietary advice ranging from the recommended weight gain to the number and size of food portions to consume in a day. Women need to understand that they DO NOT have to eat for two. Remember every woman’s weight gain is different and it depends on your pre-pregnancy BMI so a dietician is a person who would tell what your ideal weight gain should be. General exercise advise (aerobic and strength conditioning) is also given by the dietician. They encourage women to maintain walking, swimming but to avoid contact sports.