State of Illinois
Department of Human Services

Closing the Gap - Taking Care to Give You and Your Baby a Healthy Start

Why Do I Need Prenatal Care

Your baby's body grows rapidly during the first three months of pregnancy.

Starting prenatal care early gives you a better chance for having a healthy pregnancy and baby.

You need information on diet, exercise, rest, what to expect as your pregnancy develops and what drugs and substances to avoid in order to be a healthy mother and have a healthy baby.

The doctor or clinic will also enroll you in the state's insurance program for mothers and babies.

When Do I Begin Prenatal Care?

Make an appointment for a pregnancy test after you have missed one monthly period.


Where do I go for prenatal care?

What if I don't have the money?

Every pregnant woman and her unborn infant can get health care.


In the Chicago area, call: 311  In the remainder of Illinois, call: 1-800-843-6141

Supported in part by project U19MCO3177-02 from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Health Resources and Services Administration, Maternal and Child Health Bureau (Title V, Social Security Act)

What Is Going To Happen When I Go For Prenatal Care?

At your first visit your healthcare provider will do a Complete Health and Social History.

You should expect:

  • Questions about your past and present health, past pregnancies and social background.
  • Information about the health of your family members.

Next, your healthcare provider will do a Complete Physical Examination.

You should expect:

  • Blood pressure and temperature check
  • Measuring your weight and height
  • Checking your mouth and teeth
  • Listening to your heart and lungs
  • Examining your breasts
  • Measuring the size of your belly
  • Conducting an internal exam and Pap Smear
  • Blood and urine tests

The examination and tests give your health care provider information that helps plan the best care for you and your baby. Be sure to tell them about any pills you take even if you buy them over the counter, any street drugs you use, alcohol you drink or anything you smoke.

This information is confidential. This is very important information to help your health care provider help you and your baby.

Any drugs used during pregnancy can be harmful to your baby. Remember avoid smoking, alcohol and drug use.

At your first visit, ask your health care provider:

  • What hospital will you be going to for the delivery of your baby?
  • For the phone number to call in case of an emergency (day or night).

At each visit your health care provider will:

  • Check your weight gain
  • Test your urine
  • Take your blood pressure
  • Measure your growing belly
  • Listen to your baby's heartbeat

Your health care provider should ask:

  • What have you been eating?
  • How are you feeling?
  • How often do you feel the baby move?
  • Are you taking vitamins including folic acid?

These visits are a good time for you to learn about your pregnancy, ask questions, and discuss problems. Make a list of problems or questions to ask at your visits. Remember, no question is too foolish. Your health care provider is ready and willing to help you.

Don't forget to ask questions

How Often Will I Go For Prenatal Visits?

You should be seen by your health care provider at least:

  • Once a month for the first 6 months
  • Every two weeks in the 7th and 8th month
  • In your 9th month, every week until you deliver
  • Some women may have more visits if problems arise.

Each appointment is important. Don't skip any!

Where Will I Go For Emergency Treatment Or Delivery Of My Baby?




What Problems Or Danger Signs Should I Call My Health Care Provider About?

Call your health care provider if you have any concerns or questions or even if you don't feel well, but especially if you have:

  • Bleeding from the vagina
  • Discharge or a gush of fluid from the vagina
  • Pain or burning with urinating
  • Vomiting, bowel difficulty, or loose stools
  • Swollen feet, hands or face
  • Severe headache
  • Blurred or double vision or seeing spots
  • Cramps that feel like your period, low back pain or a feeling like your baby is pressing down
  • Chills or fever
  • Dizziness or fainting
  • Sharp pain in your belly
  • Baby doesn't move as much (usually the baby kicks 10-12 times in 12 hours or 5-6 times if you lie down on your side for one hour after a meal). Any decrease in activity MUST be reported immediately!

Emergency Information

Please have your health care provider complete this card for you. Carry this card at all times.

  • Name
  • Address
  • Phone
  • Allergies
  • Age
  • Gr/P
  • LMP
  • EDC
  • by US
  • Sickle Cell
  • Date/H&H
    • Date
  • Glucose Screening
  • Date/Results:
    • PAP
    • VDRL
    • GC
  • Current Medications:
  • Special Problems:

Ask your health care provider or case manager about:

  • WIC
  • Childbirth classes
  • Stop smoking classes
  • Drug abuse programs

Call the hospital where you are going to deliver about:

  • Tours (so you can see where your baby will be born)
  • Forms that may need to be filled out before your admission to the hospital

Don't forget to ask questions! If you don't get answers, or if you are not satisfied with the care you are receiving, you have the right to change health care providers.

If you have questions about any Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS) program, call or visit your Illinois Department of Human Services' Family Community Resource Center (FCRC). We will answer your questions. If you do not know where your FCRC is or if you are unable to go there, you may call the automated helpline 24 hours a day at:  1-800-843-6154, 1-800-447-6404 (TTY)

Visit our web site at:

Programs, activities and employment opportunities in the Illinois Department of Human Services are open and accessible to any individual or group without regard to age, sex, race, sexual orientation, disability, ethnic origin or religion. The department is an equal opportunity employer and practices affirmative action and reasonable accommodation programs.

DHS 4255 (R-5-13) Closing the Gap Printed by the Authority of the State of Illinois. 1,000 copies P.O.#13-1424