Prenatal care, also called antenatal care, refers to medical treatment of pregnant women. Though pregnancy is a normal female physiological process, rather than an illness or disease, it still introduces physical risks to the mother and the fetus; therefore, prenatal care's primary emphasis is on reducing and/or eliminating known threats to maternal and infant health.

Early documented accounts of formal medical attention to pregnant women date back to the 1st century, when the Greek physician Soranus of Ephesus recommended gentle care of pregnant women and abstinence from sexual intercourse during pregnancy. In medieval Europe, physicians reportedly offered herbal remedies for physical discomfort in pregnancy.

Early Formal Prenatal Care Programs

In early-20th-century Western Europe, systematic medical programs to reduce maternal mortality began emerging and involved caring for childbearing women ...

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