When you are pregnant or expecting it can be a very joyous time but also a very nervous time. You may worry if you are eating correctly, if your baby growing alright and if all the little aches, pains and symptoms you are feeling is normal. It is impossible not to worry sometimes while you are pregnant, but you shouldn't be the only one worrying if everything is alright with your pregnancy. Your obstetrician (OB), nurse midwife, nurse practitioner or primary care physician should be monitoring you for any potential problems during your pregnancy. If not, they may be held accountable for prenatal care negligence for not protecting you or your developing baby from injury or harm.
Once your pregnancy is confirmed you will most likely visit your OB or midwife once a month until you are about 30 weeks gestation. After that, you will have biweekly visits until your 9th month when you will be seen every week until birth. However, there may be times where you will be monitored more closely or referred to a maternal/fetal specialist, genetic counselor, perinatologist or neonatologist if your pregnancy is considered high risk.
During the first and second trimesters, or until you are about 6 months pregnant, competent prenatal care typically includes:
- Screening for genetic birth defects
- Blood tests to check for infections or immunity to certain infections
- Screening for multiple births
- Check for an incompetent cervix or need for a cerclage
- An ultrasound to check the placenta and fetal structures for congenital defects
- Glucose tolerance test or blood sugar to test for gestational diabetes
- Hormone levels to see if you would need progesterone
- Pelvic exam to check your uterus and pelvic size
- Urinalysis to check for bacteria, ketones, blood or protein
- Blood pressure monitoring to watch for maternal hypertension
After your second trimester, your baby is reaching an age of viability or able to survive if born prematurely. However, severely premature babies or micro-preemies are at a higher risk for sepsis, cerebral palsy, blindness, pulmonary hemorrhages and other long term or chronic medical conditions. Your OB or nurse midwife should be looking for problems that could cause you to go into premature labor. During the last 3 months of your pregnancy your prenatal care provider may do the following:
- Check or instruct you on the signs of preterm labor
- Check for preterm premature rupture of membranes (PPROM)
- Look for signs of pre-eclampsia such as protein in the urine, high blood pressure, headaches, abdominal pain, swelling or edema to make sure it does not progress to eclampsia and seizures
- Perform an ultrasound with any abnormal bleeding to check for placental abruption or low lying placenta (placenta previa)
- An ultrasound to check the size of your baby
- An ultrasound to see if your baby is breech or transverse lie and at risk for umbilical cord prolapse
- Check for Group B Strep (GBS) infection
- Check or monitor gestational diabetes
- Evaluate any decrease in fetal movement
- Perform a non-stress test (NST) or biophysical profile (BPP) to check for any fetal distress
- Administer betamethasone or steroids to help mature your baby's lungs if your membranes ruptured early
Doctors, obstetricians, nurse practitioners or nurse midwives should do everything they can to prevent or treat pregnancy complications. If not, your baby can be born with breathing problems, an intraventricular hemorrhage (IVH) or bleeding on the brain, intestinal problems, organ damage, sepsis, infection, a high bilirubin, jaundice, kernicterus, necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC), retinopathy of prematurity (ROP) or blindness, deafness from antibiotics such as Gentamycin, hyaline membrane disease (HMD), respiratory distress syndrome (RDS), brain damage, mental retardation, low glucose or blood sugar levels, developmental delays, neurologic injuries, developmental delays, learning disabilities, milestone delays or cerebral palsy.
If you had difficulties during your pregnancy that were not properly treated and your baby now has permanent injuries, brain damage, cerebral palsy or developmental delays, please feel free to contact one of our experienced birth injury lawyers, doctors or nurses at (215) 866-2424. Our experienced fetal distress law firm has a team of attorneys, physicians, labor and delivery nurses, emergency room nurses and neonatal intensive care (NICU) nurses who have actually cared for and treated pregnant women and premature babies. Our medical experience and knowledge has led to us obtaining two of the largest medical malpractice verdicts in Pennsylvania history.