Prenatal Care and Advice: Important, Yes, But How Much Are Really Critical for Everyone?


If you didn’t know there was something in there, do you think the end result would likely be the same than if you did know?

I haven’t ever seen the show I Didn’t Know I Was Pregnant, but the premise fascinates me. I don’t care if you’re a skinny minny like Kate Moss or the loser on The Biggest Loser, there are some pregnancy symptoms that are undeniably pregnancy symptoms, like, say, a kicking baby inside your abdomen or a missed period for nine months.

In some ways I envy the women who don’t know they’re with child until one falls out of them. Because it means they get to avoid nine months of fretting and worrying (although it also means they’re hit with a surprise baby, which I suppose can be like a surprise marriage proposal, although in one scenario you get a diamond ring and in the other you get a pooping, eating, crying and helpless human being for whom you failed to buy any onesies in advance).

Lately I’ve been thinking about my last pregnancy and my current one and how all of the doctor’s appointments, pregnancy websites, books and blogs are nice, but if I had skipped all of them, I would still probably have a healthy baby at the end. Which makes me wonder if most of us really need all of the prenatal pomp?

Clearly there are people who have problems in their pregnancies or when trying to conceive, and for those women, medical interventions are critical to the health and survival of their babies. And when you know you’re pregnant you can take vital measures to ensure your baby’s health, like take prenatal vitamins regularly and avoid potentially harmful things like sushi and alcohol and cigarettes or other drugs.

But am I the only one who ever reads the news stories about teen girls who give birth to perfectly healthy babies in the bathroom at school after nine months of not realizing their boobs were swollen because of reasons other than wishing really, really hard, and marvel at how they managed to do what we did without all of the fuss? It’s kind of like how our parents managed to keep us alive as kids without car seats and bike helmets. Sure, when you know better, you do better (right, Oprah?), but how badly would a lot of us really do if we tried to get by with a little less information and poking and prodding while pregnant?

All that being said, I enjoy going to my doctor’s office for ultrasounds. I get a charge out of reading each week about which fruit or vegetable my baby most resembles at that exact moment in time. I delight in planning for the future of my latest offspring, and find that with planning comes an incalculable amount of comfort in preparing for the unknown that will inevitably befall me.

It’s just that there have been times over the course of both of my pregnancies that I have been driven to tears of anxiety and frustration waiting for test results — whether they were ovulation or home pregnancy tests, glucose results, amnio results, or waiting with bated breath to hear a heartbeat during an ultrasound — and for the actual baby, that I almost wish I could throw in the towel and let nature take it’s course without the added emotional rollercoaster that obstetricians, weekly emails, pregnancy books and blogs add to the hopeful and probable entrance of a healthy child.

Do you think you could get by in your pregnancy with less pomp and circumstance, or do you think the amount of ado surrounding the nine months isn’t much about nothing?

Article Posted 5 years Ago

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