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Perinatal vs. Prenatal — What's the Difference?

By Tayyaba Rehman — Updated on November 6, 2023
Perinatal refers to the period just before, during, and after birth, while prenatal denotes the time during pregnancy, before birth.
Perinatal vs. Prenatal — What's the Difference?

Difference Between Perinatal and Prenatal


Key Differences

Perinatal pertains to the time period shortly before and after birth, typically encompassing several weeks. It is a critical phase for both mother and child, often including medical care to ensure health and safety through the birth process. Prenatal, however, strictly refers to the time before birth, focusing on the development of the fetus and the health of the pregnant individual. The prenatal period is vital for preventative care and fetal assessments.
While perinatal care is designed to manage and monitor the health of the mother and the neonate during delivery and the immediate postpartum period, prenatal care focuses on the health and development of the fetus and the management of health issues during pregnancy. Both perinatal and prenatal are crucial for maternal and child health but at different stages of the childbirth process.
Perinatal complications can influence long-term outcomes for both the infant and the mother. Prenatal care aims to identify and mitigate potential health risks before they can impact the perinatal period. The distinction lies in the timing relative to the birth itself, with perinatal encompassing the birth and prenatal coming before it.
The support provided during the perinatal period often includes dealing with immediate post-birth concerns such as breastfeeding and newborn care. In contrast, prenatal care might involve genetic testing, nutrition counseling, and management of chronic conditions to prepare for a safe perinatal experience.
Perinatal services might also include care for preterm infants or addressing birth complications, whereas prenatal services could include educational classes on childbirth and parenting, alongside monitoring the pregnancy's progression. Despite the different focuses of perinatal and prenatal periods, both aim to support the health of the mother and child.

Comparison Chart


Around birth (before, during, after)
Before birth (during pregnancy)


Birth process and immediate aftermath
Fetal development, maternal health


Starts in the last weeks of pregnancy to 1 month after birth
Starts with conception and continues until birth

Medical Concerns

Birth complications, neonatal care
Gestational diabetes, fetal screenings

Health Services

Immediate postpartum care, neonatology
Ultrasounds, prenatal vitamins, lifestyle counseling

Compare with Definitions


Relating to the healthcare provided to mother and child during the perinatal period.
She was grateful for the comprehensive perinatal healthcare program.


Relating to the care or treatment of a pregnant individual and fetus.
She attended prenatal yoga classes throughout her second trimester.


Denoting the medical specialty that deals with perinatal stages.
He is studying to become a perinatal nurse.


Occurring before birth, during pregnancy.
Prenatal vitamins are important for fetal health.


Pertaining to the period immediately before and after birth.
They specialized in perinatal care for high-risk pregnancies.


Concerning the health or development of an unborn baby.
Prenatal check-ups can help detect any potential issues early on.


Of, relating to, or occurring around the time of birth.
The hospital offers excellent perinatal support services.


Pertaining to the period or care before childbirth.
They offer excellent prenatal counseling services.


The perinatal phase includes the last part of the pregnancy and the first weeks of a newborn's life.
Perinatal mortality rates have declined with advanced healthcare.


Before birth; during or relating to pregnancy
Prenatal development


Relating to the time, usually a number of weeks, immediately before and after birth.


Relating to or occurring during pregnancy
Prenatal medical care.


Of, relating to, or being the period around childbirth, especially the five months before and one month after birth
Perinatal mortality.
Perinatal care.


Being or happening before birth.


Of or pertaining to the time around birth.
Perinatal HIV infection of infants is a problem in sub-Saharan Africa.


A person who is expecting to give birth.


Occurring during the period around birth (5 months before and 1 month after);
Perinatal mortality
Perinatal care
The prenatal period
Antenatal care


A dietary supplement to be taken by somebody expecting to give birth.
She was recommended a course of zinc prenatals.


Being or happening before birth.


Occurring or existing before birth;
The prenatal period
Antenatal care
Postnatal development


Referring to the preparation and medical attention before the onset of labor.
The couple took prenatal classes to prepare for childbirth.

Common Curiosities

When does the perinatal period start and end?

It typically starts a few weeks before the expected date of delivery and continues until about one month after birth.

What is the focus of prenatal care?

Prenatal care focuses on the health of the pregnant person and fetal development.

What does prenatal mean?

Prenatal pertains to the time and healthcare associated with the period before childbirth, during pregnancy.

How often should prenatal visits be scheduled?

The frequency can vary, but often monthly visits are recommended, increasing in frequency closer to birth.

What does perinatal mean?

Perinatal refers to the period just before, during, and after birth.

Can men have perinatal depression?

Yes, perinatal depression can affect both new mothers and fathers.

What are prenatal classes?

They are educational sessions about pregnancy, childbirth, and parenting.

What is included in perinatal care?

Perinatal care includes medical support from late pregnancy to one month after delivery.

Are prenatal vitamins important?

Yes, they provide essential nutrients to support fetal health.

What is a common perinatal service?

Neonatal care and support for new mothers are common perinatal services.

Can perinatal refer to postpartum care?

Yes, it includes care immediately after birth.

Is there a difference between perinatal and neonatal?

Yes, neonatal specifically refers to the first 28 days of life, while perinatal covers a broader period around birth.

Why is prenatal screening important?

It helps detect health conditions that could affect the fetus or the pregnancy.

Is prenatal genetic testing mandatory?

No, it is optional and based on personal choice and medical advice.

Does perinatal health influence long-term health?

Yes, health during the perinatal period can have long-term impacts on both the child and the mother.

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Author Spotlight

Written by
Tayyaba Rehman
Tayyaba Rehman is a distinguished writer, currently serving as a primary contributor to As a researcher in semantics and etymology, Tayyaba's passion for the complexity of languages and their distinctions has found a perfect home on the platform. Tayyaba delves into the intricacies of language, distinguishing between commonly confused words and phrases, thereby providing clarity for readers worldwide.

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