Prenatal Care - Prenatal Appointments
The Importance of Prenatal Doctor Appointments
Studies have shown that women who undergo regular prenatal checkups deliver healthy babies. In addition, undergoing regular prenatal appointments also reduces the risk of premature labor and of pregnancy complications.
Because prenatal appointments are such an integral part of prenatal care, choosing the right prenatal care practitioner for you is essential, as you will be working closely with this individual and in many cases develop a strong bond with your prenatal care provider.
Your First Prenatal Care Appointment
Your first prenatal appointment will consist of the following three elements:
- determining your medical history
- conducting a physical exam
- undergoing tests
Your prenatal care provider will establish your medical history, including whether you have or have had any chronic illnesses or diseases or whether you have undergone surgery. Your health care provider will also ask about whether you are taking any prescription medications as well as if you have had a previous pregnancy or child. Your family history, including any genetic disorders, will also be established during your initial prenatal care appointment.
A physical exam will be conducted during your first prenatal care appointment in order to measure your height, weight and blood pressure.
In addition, an internal pelvic exam and a Pap smear will help to assess for infection and for the presence of cancerous cells. Your prenatal health care provider will also conduct a test in order to check for edema, a condition in which the limbs swell.
Blood tests will be conducted in order to monitor your pregnancy health, as will as urine analysis test in order to assess blood sugar levels and protein levels. This test can also help determine the risk of gestational diabetes.
An HIV test will also be performed during your first prenatal care appointment.
Follow Up Prenatal Care Appointments
In addition to your initial prenatal appointment, follow up appointments will be regularly scheduled in order to assess fetal development as well as to check for any complications.
For example, an ultrasound will be conducted at the twelfth week and between the eighteenth and twentieth week. A test at 20 weeks will also help to measure stomach in order to track your baby’s development.
During the first 28 weeks, a prenatal appointment will be scheduled once a month. Prenatal appointments will increase to twice monthly at 36 weeks. After 36 weeks, you will see your prenatal care provider once a week.