Early Prenatal Care

For referrals and resources, call:
The County of Santa Clara Maternal, Child and Adolescent Health Program
(800) 310-2332

Pregnant woman receiving prenatal care

What is prenatal care?

Prenatal care is the health care you receive if you become pregnant or are planning a pregnancy. Prenatal care is important at every stage of pregnancy, especially early in the pregnancy.

Seeing a health care provider early on (and even before getting pregnant) allows you to know your health status and find any health risks that the pregnancy may cause for you and your developing baby. You will also learn about the "dos and don’ts" of pregnancy to help you and your baby be as healthy as possible.

    You should see a health care provider right away if you think you are pregnant — best if within the first 12 weeks of your pregnancy. If you are planning a pregnancy, getting medical care even before you are pregnant is important. Early care can help make sure you and your body are prepared for the changes that come with pregnancy.

    Birth defects can be prevented. The early weeks of pregnancy are a delicate time for your growing baby.  You will want to make sure that you are getting the right amount of folic acid (vitamin B) to support your baby’s growing brain and spinal cord. Getting prenatal care only later in the pregnancy could be too late to prevent birth defects. 

    Did you know that you should take 400 to 800 micrograms of folic acid every day for at least 3 months before getting pregnant? If you do, it lowers your risk of some birth defects of the brain and spine. 

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