Comprehensive prenatal care is a vital part of ensuring that a mother delivers a healthy baby. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, babies born to women who did not receive prenatal care are five times likelier to die and three times likelier to be born underweight than babies whose mothers did receive care.
Real Alternatives administers Pennsylvania's Pregnancy and Parenting Support Services Program. Through the use of counselors at pregnancy support centers, social service agencies, and maternity homes, women receive supportive counseling from the moment they find out hey are pregnant through 12 months after the birth of their baby. During last fiscal year, over 7900 pregnant women received proper prenatal care through the Pennsylvania program.
Beyond ultrasounds and regular checkups, prenatal care may focus on specific pregnancy issues, such as gestational diabetes. Practitioners also work with patients on more general issues, such as staying in good health through diet and exercise to avoid pregnancy complications. In addition, they oversee the patient's use of medications and prenatal vitamins.
It is recommended that women visit their doctor once a month from weeks four through 28, once every two weeks from weeks 28 to 36, and once a week from weeks 36 through 40.
Launched in 1996 through a state-sponsored initiative to lower abortion rates, Real Alternatives originally served women through 72 centers across Pennsylvania.