Pregnancy stages: What to know about antenatal, intrapartum & postpartum

Pregnancy Stages: What to Know about Antenatal, Intrapartum & Postpartum

As a leading birth trauma lawyer in Ontario, Sommers, Roth, and Elmaleh work with clients across the province, ensuring medical professionals are held accountable during the pregnancy and delivery. Our job is to ensure that any malpractice cases, especially those resulting in the harm of a child, be brought to justice.

Throughout pregnancy, there are various aspects of medical care put to the test. Each stage is essential to guarantee a safe and healthy delivery when the time comes and protect the mother and child after the delivery. These stages of pregnancy are known as:

  1. Antenatal

    This is the care you receive before giving birth to your baby. It includes pregnancy exams, tests, and other pregnancy-related healthcare.

  2. Intrapartum

    Intrapartum is the portion of pregnancy that occurs during labour. It begins as labour begins and ends following the third stage of labour.

  3. Postpartum

    As the name suggests, postpartum occurs means the birth of the baby. This stage of pregnancy is just as important as the others, despite the heavy ordeal of giving birth being completed.

Here, we will delve deeper into each of these categories and what they mean for healthcare professionals, smothers, and children.

What is the Role of Your OB/GYN During Antenatal Pregnancy?

Within the realm of pregnancy and birth, it is crucial to understand the stages you go through and your physician’s role or OB/GYN throughout each process. This helps your doctor maintain control and develop alterations to your birth plan as needed.

During the antepartum phase of pregnancy, you will require many regular tests to monitor your child’s development, as well as your health. Checking temperature, heart rate, blood pressure, blood sugar levels, and weight at each appointment is common practice. Along with these standard protocols, your OB/GYN should perform additional antenatal testing, such as:

  1. BPP Test

    Antepartum fetal testing, also known as a biophysical profile or BPP test, occurs after 20-weeks of pregnancy. It involves checking the baby’s heart rate, breathing, and muscle tone through electronic monitoring and ultrasound.

  2. CVS Test

    A Chorionic Villus Sampling is taken around 10-12 weeks of pregnancy to check for genetic abnormalities and chromosomal defects in the fetus.

  3. Ultrasound

    An ultrasound allows your physician to see your baby through the power of sonography. The high-frequency sounds are not audible by humans but provide a picture of your uterus through an echo. Most Canadian women will have a pregnancy ultrasound performed at 11-14 weeks for dating purposes and 18-20 weeks to check anatomy.

  4. Amniocentesis

    Between 15-20 weeks, your doctor may perform an amniocentesis. This test removes some amniotic fluid through a large syringe from inside your uterus. The fluid tells your doctor more information about your child’s development, including in-depth data regarding genetic defects and abnormalities. There are higher risks with amniocentesis testing than with other forms of antenatal testing because the uterus is breached, and there is a chance of leakage and infection.

  5. PUBS Test

    Percutaneous Umbilical Cord Blood Sampling, also known as Cordocentesis, or a PUBS test, is another antenatal test performed to identify potential abnormalities or health concerns in a fetus. The test requires a blood sample from the umbilical cord.

What is the role of your OB/GYN during intrapartum pregnancy?

The intrapartum portion of pregnancy can be daunting for most women as it requires a great deal of physical effort, discomfort, and pain. It is also a dangerous time for both mother and child if an OB/GYN and attending nursing staff are not prepared and diligent. Some of the duties required of a doctor during Intrapartum pregnancy are:

  1. Labour induction

    Not all women will be induced into labour, but sometimes, delivery requires a helping hand due to late delivery, gestational diabetes, child growth rates, and other reasons. Induction involves stimulating the uterus into contractions by pressure against the cervix, opening the amniotic sac, or hormonal enhancement. This causes labour to begin when it does not start naturally.

  2. Continuous monitoring

    No two pregnancies are exactly alike. A woman giving birth to her second child, for example, may have a completely different experience than she did with her first. Therefore, medical professionals must monitor intrapartum pregnancy for signs of concern.

  3. Episiotomy and stitching

    During birth, the vaginal tissue sometimes tears to allow the baby to leave the birth canal. Not all women tear; some need a cut to widen the vagina and avoid rupture during birth. Whether by cut or tear, your doctor then stitches the wound to ensure the tissue’s safe and healthy healing following childbirth.

Along with these procedures, your doctor may also be required to deliver your baby through a method other than natural delivery. These methods include:

  1. Cesarean delivery

    Cesarean delivery or a C-section is used both as a method of planned delivery and emergency delivery. It requires incisions to be made in the lower abdomen and uterus to remove the baby surgically rather than vaginally.

  2. Breech delivery

    Babies are naturally born head first. In some cases where a baby will not be born head first, a Cesarean may be used for safe delivery. In other cases, the baby may be born breech, which means the feet or bottom are delivered first. This is not a safe position for the baby and has a higher risk of complications.

What is the role of Your OB/GYN during postpartum pregnancy?

Following a natural vagina birth or a cesarean delivery, your doctor should monitor you for postpartum complications. This includes any abnormal bleeding, infection, pain, and psychological issues.

Your physician may prescribe medicine for pain and swelling and hospitalize you for a day or more to ensure you are well enough to care for your child. If you have undergone surgery, your hospital stay will be longer, and your follow-up care stricter.

Your baby should also be monitored for breathing, heart rate, passing waste, eating, and drinking. Your baby will also require cleaning, weighing, and a series of vaccinations and bloodwork. If breastfeeding, a lactation specialist may visit, and a nurse may check-in to ensure you can feed your baby as needed, whether on schedule or by demand.

Contacting a Birth Trauma Lawyer

If you feel that any of the care you have received in these pregnancy stages has been sub-par, negligent, or resulted in health issues for you or your child, you should contact a birth trauma lawyer as soon as possible. A birth trauma lawyer will work closely with you and your family to help you heal and cover costs caused by medical negligence during birth.

For more information about the different pregnancy states, call Sommers, Roth and Elmaleh at 1-416-961-1212 or contact us here.

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