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What Happens If I Don't Receive Prenatal Care?

You may place your health, and the health of your unborn baby at risk if you fail to receive prenatal care during this special time. It's certainly possible to have a baby without it, but regular prenatal care is the best thing you can do for the two of you.

Real Risks

Babies are five times more likely to die, and three times more likely to have low birth weight, when moms don't get prenatal care. Those grim numbers are from a 2012 report from the United States Department of Health and Human Services. Prenatal visits permit a doctor to treat an expectant mother's existing problems and prevent new problems.

Pre-Existing Problems

Some women have pre-existing health conditions, such as diabetes, asthma and heart problems, that can affect their pregnancy. A doctor can design a treatment plan that decreases health risks. For example, a doctor may modify or stop medications that can harm the developing baby, particularly during the first trimester.

RELATED: Prenatal Vitamins and Minerals

High-Risk Pregnancies

High-risk pregnancies carry a greater risk for problems. For moms who skip prenatal care, the risk for a negative outcome increases when the problem remains untreated. Any woman who gets pregnant after 35 has a high-risk pregnancy. So does any woman with a chronic health condition, who is pregnant with more than one fetus, or at risk for preterm labor. Prenatal care means a doctor has time to recommend a specialist.

Managing Mental Health Disorders

For women who struggle with mental health disorders such as anxiety and depression, pregnancy may present a new dilemma. Some women find those symptoms appear and even worsen during pregnancy. Without prenatal care, moms-to-be don’t get a treatment plan that manages their symptoms effectively and safely. If you currently take medication, your doctor can determine whether a modification in your treatment plan is needed.

RELATED: Taking Prenatal Vitamins After Giving Birth

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