What to Expect at your Prenatal Appointments

What to Expect at your Prenatal Appointments

One of the first things you should do when you find out you’re pregnant is schedule an appointment with your OBGYN.  Although you may find out you’re pregnant as early as 4 weeks, your doctor won’t actually want to see you until you’re about 8 weeks along (anywhere between 6 and 10 weeks is normal).  This is because there really isn’t much to see until your pregnancy has progressed for a few weeks.  At your first doctor’s appointment, you’ll quickly find out that you’ll be spending a lot of time in your OB’s office.  Here’s what you can expect during your prenatal appointments. 

Note:  This is for a normal, healthy pregnancy.  If you are high risk or carrying multiples, your appointment schedule will vary.  Also, please keep in mind that all doctors and practices are different.  This is just to give you an idea of what to expect and should not be taken as medical advice.  Your experiences may vary.

First Prenatal Appointment: Between 6 and 10 Weeks

Urine Test – The nurse will check your urine for high levels of sugars, proteins, and bacteria.

Weight – You will most likely be weighed at every prenatal appointment.  The average weight gain during pregnancy is around 30 pounds, but don’t be worried if you gain more or less.  Your doctor will know what’s normal for you and your pregnancy.

Blood Pressure – The nurse will check your blood pressure.

Pap Smear – If you’re due for your annual appointment, your doctor will likely do a pap smear during this first appointment.

Transvaginal Ultrasound – During early pregnancy, a transvaginal ultrasound is the safest way to see your baby in utero.  Sometimes, this type of ultrasound can come as a shock to pregnant women.  A transvaginal ultrasound simply means that it will be done through the vagina.

Blood Test – The initial blood tests during pregnancy are to check your hCG levels, STDs, immunities, Vitamin D, blood type, Rh factor, genetic risk, and blood sugar.

Second Prenatal Appointment: Between 10 and 12 weeks

Urine Test

Weight

Blood Pressure

Dopplar for Heart Beat – During your second prenatal appointment, your doctor will most likely use a dopplar outside of your stomach to check the baby’s heart rate.

Maybe an Ultrasound – Sometimes, it can be hard to find the baby’s heartbeat with a dopplar.  In this case, you may need an ultrasound.  If your doctor can’t find the heartbeat right away, don’t worry.  Your baby is still extremely small and it’s completely normal to have difficulty finding it right away.

Third Prenatal Appointment: Between 14 and 16 weeks

Urine

Weight

Blood Pressure

Dopplar for Heart Beat

Forth Prenatal Appointment: Between 18 and 20 Weeks

Urine

Weight

Blood Pressure

Anatomy Scan – If you ask most women, the anatomy scan is their favorite doctor’s appointment.  During the scan, your doctor or an ultrasound tech will take pictures of all of your baby’s vital organs, including their reproductive organs.  Unless you do a third-party ultrasound or blood test to find out the gender early, this is when you’ll be able to find out if your baby is a girl or a boy (if you want to)!  This prenatal appointment appointment is so important because it gives you and your doctor a good idea of how baby is progressing is the womb.

Fifth Prenatal Appointment: Between 22 and 24 Weeks

Urine

Weight

Blood Pressure

Dopplar for Heart Beat

Measurements – Sometime in the second trimester, your doctor will start measuring your belly.  They measure from the pubic bone to the top of your uterus.  A normal range is plus or minus two of the number of weeks you are.  So if you’re 20 weeks, your belly should measure between 18 and 22 cm. 

Sixth Prenatal Appointment: Between 26 and 28 Weeks

Urine

Weight

Blood Pressure

Dopplar for Heart Beat

Measurements

A glucose test should be done between 24 and 28 weeks – A glucose test checks for gestational diabetes.  Gestational diabetes is a form of diabetes that develops during pregnancy.  It can affect the your health and your baby’s health, so its important that its caught if you do have it.  Luckily, this form of diabetes no longer affects the mother after the baby is born.

Most initial glucose tests are an hour long.  You will drink a glucose drink and give a blood sample at the end of the hour.  You do not need to change your diet or prepare for this test in any way.

Seventh Prenatal Appointment: Between 30 and 32 Weeks

Urine

Weight

Blood Pressure

Measurements

Dopplar for Heart Beat

Eighth Prenatal Appointment: Between 34 and 36 Weeks

Urine

Weight

Blood Pressure

Measurements

Dopplar for Heart Beat

Weekly Prenatal Appointments Typically Start Around 36 Weeks

Urine

Weight

Blood Pressure

Measurements

Dopplar for Heart Beat

Cervical Check – a cervical check is when your doctor checks your cervix for dilation and effacement.  This will help you and your doctor see how your body is progressing.  However, you can be 3cm dilated at your 36 week appointment and make no progress by 40 weeks.  Or, you can be 1cm dilated at an appointment and go into labor that night.  It really just depends on when your baby is ready to come.

Possible Growth Scan – A growth scan may be given sometime in the last four weeks of your pregnancy to check on the baby’s size.  This ultrasound will give your doctor an idea of your baby’s size.  However, ultrasounds are wildly inaccurate at the end of pregnancy.  Your baby could be plus or minus one pound from what the scan shows. 

If you haven’t gone into labor by 40 weeks, your doctor will likely schedule a fetal stress test and ultrasound to check on fluid levels.  A fetal stress test monitors your baby’s breathing and movements to make sure they’re still happy and healthy in the womb.  A final ultrasound will help your doctor measure amniotic fluid levels.  If everything looks good, there is nothing wrong with continuing a pregnancy past 40 weeks.  However, this is most likely when your doctor will start discussing a membrane sweep and induction.  A membrane sweep is when your doctor takes their fingers and lifts the amniotic sac from the cervix and lower part of the uterus.  The sweep releases hormones that help soften and open the cervix.  A scheduled induction, or elective induction, is when you and your doctor agree on a date to medically induce labor.  You can learn more about inductions and what to expect here.

While it may seem like you’re spending a lot of time in your doctor’s office, these prenatal appointments are so important for your baby’s health and well-being.  Make sure you have a doctor that you trust and who understands your wishes for your pregnancy and birth.  In the end, all the blood work, urine tests, and doctor visits are totally worth it.




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