Prenatal Care

During those precious months before you give birth to the baby that is growing inside of you come the months of prenatal care. Prenatal care is usually provided to you by a doctor who will monitor the progress of your pregnancy and make sure that both you and the baby are healthy.

You should make your first appointment as soon as you discover that you are pregnant and make sure that you do not skip any of them even if you think there is nothing wrong. However, there may be underlying problems that you do not know about.Pregnancy

A typical prenatal care schedule for a low-risk woman with a normally progressing pregnancy is:

Weeks 4 to 28: 1 visit per month (every 4 weeks)
Weeks 28 to 36: 2 visits per month (every 2 to 3 weeks)
Weeks 36 to birth: 1 visit per week

A woman with a chronic medical condition or a “high-risk” pregnancy may have to see her health care provider more often.

At the first visit your health care provider will:

– Identify medical problems.
– Discuss with you any medications you are taking.
– Do a physical exam and a pelvic (internal) exam.
– Weigh you.
– Check your blood pressure.
– Check a urine sample for infection.
– Do some blood tests to check for anemia and see if you have had certain infections. You will be asked if you want a test for HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.
– Do a Pap smear to check for cervical cancer and other tests for vaginal infections
– Figure out your due date: an estimate of the day your baby will be born. Most babies are born within two weeks (before or after) their due date.
– Make sure you’re taking a prenatal vitamin with folic acid (600 micrograms per day).

Prenatal Care

During later prenatal visits your provider will:

– Weigh you.
– Check your blood pressure.
– Measure your belly to see how the baby is growing (middle and late pregnancy).
– Check your hands, feet and face for swelling.
– Listen for the baby’s heartbeat (after the 12th week of pregnancy).
– Feel your abdomen to assess the baby’s position (later in pregnancy).
– Do any tests that are needed, such as blood tests or ultrasound.
– Ask you if you have any questions or concerns. It’s a good idea to write down your questions and bring a list with you so you don’t forget.