Prenatal care, also called antenatal care, is healthcare that is provided throughout your pregnancy. It usually involves periodic health checkups to make sure that the pregnancy is progressing smoothly and to catch any potential problems early before they become serious.
Prenatal care is also important because it’ll help you build a good relationship with your healthcare provider. This will be beneficial for you even after your baby is born.
Both your psychological and medical needs will be addressed in the course of your prenatal visits. This service is provided for free by trained personnel at all government health clinics.
Appointment with the healthcare provider: Private of Government or both
You can choose to make an appointment with your healthcare provider at a private or government healthcare facility, or both.
Your first visit is called the booking visit. You should plan to have it as soon as you find out you are pregnant. Here is what will happen during your first visit:
- The initial interview: a nurse or doctor will ask you about your personal and family history, your medical history, and your period pattern. They will also need some information about your economical background and your previous pregnancies if any.
- The physical exam: a physical examination will be carried out, followed by lab tests that will help determine the progress of your pregnancy and how you will be treated to ensure a healthy delivery
- The antenatal card: Before you leave, you’ll get a copy of your antenatal card. You have to bring this with you on all subsequent visits. The antenatal card will also have the date of your next visit.
Things to do before your 1st visit to a government clinic for antenatal check-up
Before your booking visit, there are several things that you have to do to ensure that everything goes smoothly.
- Look for Klinik Kesihatan Ibu Dan Anak (KKIA) or Klinik Kesihatan (KK) nearest to your house address. Keep in mind that prenatal care is offered at all government clinics.
- Call the respective KKIA or KK to check if your house address is within their coverage area and make an appointment (certain branches are on a walk-in basis)
- On the day of your visit, be sure to bring your IC, photocopy of your husband’s IC, house water/electric bill, and a pen
- You may be asked to provide details of your husband’s work, such as occupation and company address. Be prepared to provide these accurately.
- Be there early to fill up necessary particulars. Wherever possible, bring your husband with you on your first visit.
- Find out as much as you can about you and your husband’s family medical history. If you are on any medication, you should also let the doctor or nurse know.
- Prepare a list of questions that you would like to ask your doctor beforehand and ask them during your visit
It is very important to be open with your nurse or doctor and be prepared to discuss your personal and family medical history. Come prepared and you will be able to get the most value out of your visit.
Keep in mind that because every region and every government clinic is slightly different, your experience may be a little different on your first visit. Therefore, it is important to also interview your government PIC to confirm what their exact requirements are.
The first visit is the most important one because this is when most potential medical complications are screened for, identified, and managed. Therefore, you must plan to have it as soon as you confirm your pregnancy, ideally before the first 12 weeks of pregnancy.
Know your EDD, or estimated date of delivery
Knowing your estimated delivery date is also extremely important. Your doctor or nurse will help you calculate it on your first prenatal care visit.
Calculating it on your own is also quite easy. Your EDD is calculated from the first day of your last period. Count 40 weeks, or 240 days, from the first day of your last period. This is done because your pregnancy will last about 38 weeks from conception.
Expect to give birth either exactly on your EDD, or a week or two before or after it.