Preparing Moms-to-Be for a Healthy Pregnancy


Whether you’re just starting to think about getting pregnant or you’re already expecting, we know that there are many questions, worries, and uncertainties that come along with the joy and excitement of welcoming your new baby. At Penn Highlands Healthcare, we are committed first and foremost to a safe birth experience, but we also hope to make it as joyful, memorable, and comfortable as possible. As part of our comprehensive women’s health services, our-family centered maternity care strives to make every delivery a unique and special experience.

What If We Have Trouble Trying To Get Pregnant?

Deciding to start or add to your family should be a joyous occasion. But for some women, struggles with infertility can make getting pregnant frustrating or, sometimes, impossible. At PH Life’s Journey, we offer a comprehensive infertility evaluation and therapy program. Assessment may include blood work to evaluate hormone levels, ultrasound, semen analysis, and hysterosalpingogram or HSG, which uses X-ray to look at your uterus and fallopian tubes.

About one in 10 couples of reproductive-age will experience difficulty getting pregnant. Fortunately, with help from today's fertility treatments and advanced reproductive technologies, more than 80 percent of couples with infertility problems will get pregnant.

What Prenatal Testing Will I Need When I’m Pregnant?

Women should begin seeing an obstetrician, mid-wife, or nurse practitioner who specializes in pregnancy care when they first find out they are pregnant. You will typically only see your obstetrics provider about once a month during the first two trimesters unless your provider notices something that needs monitoring.

A variety of tests throughout your pregnancy will be recommended. These tests help monitor the health of you and your fetus so that treatment can be provided, if necessary. Early in your pregnancy, expect the following tests as part of your routine prenatal care:

  • Complete blood count (CBC) and blood typing, which can show if you have the Rh factor, a protein in the blood.
  • Urinalysis to test for diabetes, urinary tract disease or infection, and early signs of preeclampsia.
  • Rubella blood test to see if you’ve had a past infection of rubella or been vaccinated.
  • Hepatitis B and C tests
  • Tests for sexually transmitted infections, including syphilis, chlamydia, and HIV.
  • An initial dating ultrasound to help determine your due date.

Later in your pregnancy, you’ll have these tests:

  • Repeat CBC and Rh antibody tests
  • Glucose screening test to check for gestational diabetes, a condition that can cause extremely high blood sugar levels during pregnancy, which can be harmful to mom and baby.
  • Group B streptococcus
  • Follow-up ultrasounds to evaluate fetal development

Some women also may choose to have a multiple marker screen, a blood test that can identify neural tube defects and detect some chromosomal abnormalities, such as Down syndrome. If a multiple marker screen is abnormal, women may choose to proceed to one of two tests:

Amniocentesis, which is performed during the second trimester. This test can screen for Down syndrome and other chromosomal abnormalities, as well as neural tube defects like spina bifida, and some genetic conditions.

Chorionic villus sampling, is performed during the first trimester to determine if your infant has an abnormal number of chromosomes, which can give an early indication birth defects like trisomy 18.

Many couples who are concerned about genetic conditions, also have carrier screening, a blood test that can show if you or your partner carry gene’s for genetic disorders such as sickle cell anemia or cystic fibrosis.

Parents may decide to have these tests so that they can prepare better for a baby who has special health needs. It also helps your obstetrics team so that they have the necessary specialists on hand when your baby is born.

How Do I Choose Between A Midwife And An OB/GYN Physician?

If you anticipate a relatively normal (low-risk) pregnancy and birth, either a midwife or an OB/GYN is a great choice. Midwives are professionals who work with women to provide support, care and advice during pregnancy, labor, and the postpartum period. They also can deliver babies and help provide newborn care. Midwives are qualified to detect complications in both mother and baby and assess whether more advanced medical care or emergency measures are needed.

Women who have health concerns might choose an OB/GYN physician for their prenatal care and labor/delivery. Some health concerns that might impact pregnancy include having diabetes, high blood pressure, or mental health illness.

At Penn Highlands Healthcare, we have both types of providers, as well as OB/GYN nurse practitioners who you may see for your prenatal care.

What is a High-Risk Pregnancy?

Women who are pregnant with multiples or who develop a pregnancy-related health issue, such as preeclampsia or gestational diabetes, may be referred to a perinatologist for care. Penn Highlands Perinatal Consultants provide specialized care for women with complicated, high-risk pregnancies. These maternal-fetal health specialists are at the ready to provide their expertise should a mother or her unborn baby need extra care. That may include additional testing, more frequent prenatal appointments, and closer monitoring of things like your blood pressure and weight. For some high-risk pregnancies, your physician may recommend a C-section so they can be more in control of the labor and delivery process.

Our board-certified perinatologist also is available in the NICU for babies who require specialized care after birth.

Learn more about PHH perinatology and how they can provide the best care for your pregnancy.

What Prenatal Classes Does PHH Offer?

Penn Highlands DuBois offers many prenatal educational programs to prepare you for the birth of your new baby. There are three classes that can be taken before baby arrives.

One-Day Prenatal Class: Penn Highlands DuBois offers a full-day Saturday class that includes a hospital tour and talks about minor pregnancy discomforts/relief remedies, pain control for labor including breathing techniques and epidurals, stages of labor and delivery, fetal testing, the NICU, newborn care and more. Register by the end of your sixth month of pregnancy. Cost is $65, which may be covered by your medical coverage/private insurance.

Feeding Class: This in-depth class covers topics to educate and support moms who plan or are considering breast feeding their baby. We encourage all parents, no matter their feeding choice, to attend this class to explore the benefits of breastfeeding. Cost is $10, unless you are already participating in prenatal education classes.

New Baby Camp: To help new siblings age 2-8 prepare for a new baby brother or sister, this class includes a tour of the Maternity Unit and age-based education to help them prepare for the arrival of a new baby. Class is free of charge and scheduled every other month.

To register for one of our classes, please call 814-375-INFO (4636) or for more details download a Prenatal Class Brochure located in the resources sidebar.

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Conditions We Treat

Contraceptive Counseling
Prenatal Care
Routine Examinations

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