What to Expect During Prenatal Visits

Pregnancy can be an exhilarating phase in a woman’s life. It can also be overwhelming, especially for new mommas. You have no idea what to do first! Before you start shopping for baby clothes, there’s one most essential first step to keep in mind: prenatal visits.

Make sure to visit your doctor as soon as you know you’re pregnant. Doing so will help ensure a safe and healthy pregnancy along the way.

No idea what happens during prenatal visits? Don’t worry; this guide will let you know what to expect during your appointments.

Your First Doctor’s Visit

Your first trip to your OB is significant—it’s the start of a trusting relationship between doctor and patient. And it’s important to establish rapport with your health-care provider so you’ll get comfortable discussing your pregnancy.

During your first visit, prepare to relay important information. This includes your medical and hospitalization history, the date of your last menstruation, medications you’re taking, and your family’s medical history.

Your doctor will discuss the dos and don’ts of pregnancy, which may include topics like raw meat, cats, fish, and dental care. You’ll also learn about prenatal vitamins, environmental hazards, miscarriage precautions, diet, exercise, weight gain/loss requirements, and travel limitations.

Make sure to list down possible questions you have in mind before meeting your doctor. Your prenatal visit is your best opportunity to get your queries answered.

Initial Screening Tests

Your doctor will need a baseline result of your health parameters. He or she will measure your weight, blood pressure, and blood-oxygen saturation—usually using a portable pulse oximeter device.

Aside from a physical exam, you will also undergo several screening tests. Your doctor will recommend a Pap smear and cervical-culture tests to detect abnormal cells in your cervix.

You will need to get an ultrasound—this confirms the pregnancy and indicates how far along you are.

Expect several laboratory blood tests to be done, including hemoglobin/hematocrit, Rh factor, hepatitis B, and HIV tests.

Prenatal-Visit Schedule

Your health-care providers will probably use weeks and trimesters when discussing your pregnancy. This is something you need to get used to. The first trimester will include months 0 to 3 of the pregnancy. The second comprises months 4 to 6 while the third comprises 7 to 9.

So how often do you need to check in with your doctor?

If your pregnancy is healthy, your OB will arrange a regular prenatal visit schedule. Usually, you’ll need to check in once a month until week 28 of the pregnancy. The frequency will increase to two weeks from weeks 28 to 36 then weekly from week 36 until birth.

Later Prenatal Visits

You won’t need to undergo as many screening tests as your pregnancy progresses. During most of your later prenatal appointments, you can expect the following routing exams:

  • Checking of your blood pressure and blood-oxygen saturation
  • Measuring your weight gain
  • Measuring your abdomen or “fundal height”—which will help check your baby’s growth
  • Checking your baby’s heart rate
  • Examining your hands and feet for any swelling
  • Checking on the fetus’s position later in pregnancy

Special Tests

Aside from the routine screening tests, your doctor may require you to undergo special tests. This will double-check your baby’s health and rule out any possible fetal anomaly.

If your baby is at risk for a chromosomal defect or a related genetic disorder, you may undergo a chorionic villus sampling (CVS). This is usually done between weeks 10 and 13 of your pregnancy. A CVS is done by inserting a needle through the abdomen and cervix to remove a placental-cell sample.

Amniocentesis is another test that rules out chromosomal disorders, such as spina bifida and Down syndrome. Your doctor may recommend this between weeks 15 and 20 of pregnancy. Your health-care provider will insert a thin needle into the abdomen and draw out a small sample of amniotic fluid and surrounding cells.

An Exciting Journey Awaits

Remember—avoid skipping prenatal visits as much as possible. These check-ins do not only ensure that you get a healthy pregnancy; they also ensure your baby’s health and safety.

Now that you’ve learned about what to expect during these appointments, perhaps it’s time to go shopping for baby clothes to your heart’s desire!