Written By Andre Nye, MD – Congratulations on becoming pregnant! So, what’s next? Celebrate, tell your partner, and think of how life is going to change forever in a most wonderful way. There are lots and lots of questions that instantly flash through your mind, and it can be quite overwhelming. Am I having a boy or girl? What about names? Will I be able to breastfeed? Can I deliver naturally? Take it slowly and perhaps talk with friends, or join a blog for expectant moms. This will help tremendously and will arm you with knowledge and reduce any anxiety. You will need a doctor, or you might consider a midwife, and just what are all those visits about? In this article, we will take a look at a pregnancy appointments timeline to give you a rough estimate of what your appointments will look like during your pregnancy.
Pregnancy Appointments Timeline – What Happens at Each Visit?
If you don’t know your doctor or midwife, the first visit will be a mutual introduction. Think of it as a job interview for them. After all, you will be trusting them with your care and that of your unborn baby. Make sure you feel good about this relationship. They will ask questions about your health and prior medical history as well as determining a due date. They will also get some lab work to make sure they know your blood type, iron level, any genetic diseases, and finally any possible infections that should be treated. You may also get an ultrasound to confirm the due date.
This is also an opportunity to ask questions. Make a list and get them all answered. There are no silly questions.
Make sure your doctor knows what is going on in your life at all stages of pregnancy. As a doctor who has delivered thousands of babies, I pay special attention to a woman who is unhappy at home for any reason. These women have a greater incidence of preterm labor and other pregnancy complications, so be open with your doctor.
First and Second Trimester
Your appointments will come every month in the first and second trimesters if all is well. In addition to your prenatal testing and lab work, you will also get a genetic screen at about 12 weeks. This will also tell if you are having a baby boy or girl. At 18 weeks you will get another blood test (quad screen) which will assess your risk for other anatomic problems such as spina bifida.
As you move through your pregnancy experience your doctor will teach you what to expect next. They will monitor the baby’s growth and do an anatomic screening with ultrasound at about 18 to 20 weeks. By the time you get to 30 weeks, you will be checked for diabetes which can occur in some women at this time.
In your last trimester, you will have prenatal appointments more frequently. This happens because most pregnancy complications happen at this time. Rarely the placenta starts to work less efficiently or your blood pressure increases. It’s your doctor’s job to spot these changes if they occur so that something can be done before it’s a threat to you or your baby.
Finally, toward the end of your pregnancy make sure you and your doctor plan for what your expectation is at delivery. For example, who is going to be in the delivery room? Do you want an epidural? Do you want baby skin to skin immediately after birth? What are your plans to breastfeed? If you are having a boy, are you planning a circumcision?
The overwhelming majority of pregnancies are normal and routine. It’s your doctor’s job to make sure this journey is safe for you and your baby. Keep an open mind and ask lots of questions. Enjoy the journey and form a solid team with your doctor.
Additional Source: Stages of Pregnancy
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