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Women who receive early and regular antepartum care are more likely to have healthier infants. The goals of obstetric care are to (1) provide easy access to care, (2) promote patient involvement, and (3) provide a team approach to ongoing surveillance and education for the patient and about her fetus. High-risk conditions can be identified and a man-agement plan established for any complications that may arise. Routine antepartum care provides an opportunity for screening, periodic assessments, and patient education.
Antepartum surveillance begins with the first prenatal visit. At this time, the health care provider begins to compile an obstetric database of information. Appendix C contains a format for documenting information. Complete ante-partum care includes the following:
· Diagnosing pregnancy and determining gestational age
· Monitoring the progress of the pregnancy with periodic examinations and appropriate screening tests
· Assessing the well-being of the woman and her fetus
· Providing patient education that addresses all aspects of pregnancy
· Preparing the patient and her family for her management during labor, delivery, and the postpartum interval.
· Detecting medical and psychosocial complications and instituting indicated interventions
An important aspect of prenatal/antepartum care is to edu-cate the mother and her family about the value of screening for and managing the unexpected complications that may develop. Specific conditions to which poor maternal and neonatal outcomes are often attributed include preterm labor and preterm delivery, preterm infection, intrauterine growth restriction, hypertension and preeclampsia, dia-betes mellitus, birth defects, multiple gestation, and abnor-mal placentation.
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