Prenatal care is an important first step on your journey to parenthood. You should make an appointment with an ob/gyn as soon as you know you are expecting. Throughout your pregnancy you will be asked to have regular appointments and have testing performed to make sure that both you and your baby remain healthy during this wonderful journey together. Understanding what appointments you can expect will help you prepare for the nine months ahead.
During your first trimester you will have an initial appointment, during which the doctor will verify the pregnancy with a blood or urine test, take a medical history and assign a due date. He will also discuss nutrition, exercise and the need to stop alcohol and smoking for the duration of your pregnancy.
At this point you will also receive blood tests and a medical exam. An appointment will be made for you each month to monitor your progress.
While the first trimester focused on your health, history and progress, the second trimester shifts the focus to your growing baby. Your doctor appointments will include a diabetes screening, an ultrasound to check the baby’s growth and accuracy of the gestational age and, if needed, an amniocentesis to check for certain genetic disorders.
It is during this trimester that the baby’s heartbeat can be heard. The doctor will continue to monitor your health, weight and blood pressure as well. You will start seeing the doctor every three weeks at this point.
The ultrasound during this trimester can typically determine the gender of your baby. Let the health care provider know if you want to be surprised or want to know whether you are having a boy or a girl.
At 32 weeks you will begin having biweekly doctor appointments and, at 36 weeks, they will move to weekly appointments until your baby is born. During this trimester, your weight and blood pressure will continue to be monitored, and you will be watched for any signs of toxemia.
You will be checked for anemia, hepatitis C and other possible disorders so as your due date draws near you can choose the most optimum labor and delivery method for your situation.
If you go past your due date, you will continue to have weekly appointments with the doctor, until you are two weeks overdue. At that point, if the baby is full term, your doctor will discuss induction to have you give birth. One way or the other, you will have your baby within a few weeks of the due date, and your last appointment with the doctor will be several weeks after giving birth, to be sure you are healing properly.