Mile Square Prenatal Care and Women’s Health Services

Thursday, January 4, 2024

Throughout pregnancy, both you and your baby go through many changes. Your body adapts to support your growing baby, transforming just one cell into a fully developed newborn.

These nine-plus months are crucial for both of your well-being. To ensure you both stay healthy and safe, it’s important to stay on top of prenatal care.

Prenatal care — or the healthcare you get while pregnant — supports your and your baby’s health now and long-term. From the moment you find out you’re pregnant to when you welcome your baby into the world, you’ll maintain a schedule of appointments to keep an eye on how your baby is developing and how your body is adjusting.

How does prenatal care support the health of you and your baby?

Prenatal visits help keep you and your baby healthy during this crucial time in both of your lives.

These visits ensure that you’re doing everything you can to support your developing baby, including reviewing what you eat, what medications you take, and what lifestyle choices you make.

Without prenatal care, babies are three times more likely to have a low birth weight and five times more likely to die compared to those born to mothers who get regular prenatal care.

Regular prenatal care also helps your provider spot any signs of concern early in order to treat them. Early treatment addresses many issues that arise during pregnancy, such as high blood pressure, gestational diabetes, and anxiety. It can also prevent other problems from developing.

What happens at prenatal visits?

As soon as you know you’re pregnant, call your healthcare provider to begin prenatal care. Your first prenatal visit may be longer and more in-depth than the rest of your visits. During your first prenatal visit, you can expect to:

  • Review your personal health history, such as diseases and prior pregnancies
  • Discuss your family’s health history
  • Have your blood pressure, height, and weight checked
  • Undergo a full physical exam, including a pelvic exam and pap test
  • Have blood and urine samples taken for lab work
  • Find out your estimated due date
  • Ask any questions you have about pregnancy or delivery

You’ll also need to maintain a schedule of appointments throughout your pregnancy, all of which are important to keep an eye on you and your baby. Most providers will ask to see you for a visit:

  • Around once a month during weeks 4 through 28
  • Twice a month during weeks 28 through 36
  •  Once a week from weeks 36 to birth

Some pregnancies may cause a need to see a provider more often, such as if the pregnant patient is over the age of 35 or has other risk factors for pregnancy complications, like diabetes or high blood pressure.

The rest of your prenatal visits monitor your health and the growth of your baby, and include:

  • Checking your blood pressure and weight
  • Measuring your abdomen to monitor your baby’s growth
  • Listening to your baby’s heart
  • Completing other routine tests, such as blood work, ultrasounds, and a glucose tolerance test to check for gestational diabetes

You’ll also get a chance to discuss any questions that have come up throughout your pregnancy, such as new symptoms and your birth plan.

Women’s Health Services at Mile Square

At UI Health Mile Square Health Center, our nurse-midwives work with obstetricians, maternal-fetal medicine physicians, and other specialists to provide care for you and your baby during this important time.

Nurse-midwives offer a range of benefits, including:

  • Personalized care that is designed to meet your needs and goals
  • Collaboration with physicians to provide services both in the hospital and our clinics
  • Lower rates of medical/surgical interventions, such as cesarean sections, episiotomies, and pain medications
  • A primary focus on physiological childbirth, meaning there are no interventions to interrupt the natural bodily processes
  • Continuity of care, including your entire pregnancy, birth, and postpartum period, to improve outcomes for both you and your baby

Read our article featured on the WBEZ Chicago website about why midwives help improve outcomes for both mothers and babies.

In addition to comprehensive pregnancy care and post-natal care (after your baby is born), our teams also manage routine care related to women’s health. Our full range of services include:

  • Annual wellness exams
  • STD/STI Screening
  • Vaginal and urinary tract infection treatment
  • Nonhormonal and hormonal birth control
  • Breast exams
  • Alternative pain management
  • Natural childbirth resources
  • Labor and delivery services
  • Breastfeeding support
  • Low-risk obstetric postpartum support

UI Health Mile Square Health Center Gloria Elam Women’s Health Institute of Excellence

Women are the largest demographic group served by Mile Square. The UI Health Mile Square Health Center Gloria Elam Women’s Health Institute of Excellence reflects our commitment to serving this historically underserved population.

Named in honor of the contributions of one of Mile Square Health Center’s women’s health pioneers, Gloria L. Elam, MD, MPH, FACOG, Professor of Clinical Obstetrics & Gynecology, the Women’s Health Institute of Excellence is strategically designed to be:

  • A home dedicated to women’s health staffed with experts including midwives, social workers, registered nurses, behavioral health consultants, dieticians, pediatricians, and dentists
  • A resource center with programs and services dedicated to advancing the health, well-being, and quality of life of women

Through a $2 million Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) grant, our 2-year goals include improving:

  • Prenatal care (2023)
  • Access to infant care (2024)

Melanated Midwives

In the US, women of color are more likely to experience harmful outcomes both during and after pregnancy. At Mile Square, our goal is to eliminate this health disparity by connecting women in our communities with healthcare experts who look like them and understand their needs.

UI Health Melanated Group Midwifery Care (MGMC) offers prenatal and postpartum care from a team of midwives, a nurse navigator, and postpartum doulas who are Black and understand the individual needs of their patients. This is done through group prenatal and individualized postpartum doula care. You can ask about joining MGMC at your next appointment with your prenatal provider.

Care For Your Body During Pregnancy and Beyond

Throughout your pregnancy, prenatal care is a crucial part of keeping you and your baby healthy. It sets you both up for a successful pregnancy and continued wellness.

At Mile Square Health Center, we care for you and your family throughout all stages of life. Whether you’re seeking preventative healthcare or support during an illness, our team of health experts helps your family stay healthy, happy, and safe now and for years to come.