Call your chosen OG/GYN and schedule your first prenatal visit immediately after knowing that you are pregnant. It is very important to get early and regular prenatal care for a healthy pregnancy.
During your first prenatal care visit, your OB/GYN will educate and counsel your about how to handle different aspects of the pregnancy. Your OB/GYN may discuss many issues including your habits, healthy eating, physical activity, screening tests you might need, and what to expect during labor and delivery.
Generally, your first prenatal care visit will be one of the longest. During this visit, your OB/GYN will do the following:
- Ask about your health, including previous conditions, surgeries, or pregnancies.
- Ask about your family’s health and genetic history.
- Ask about your lifestyle, including whether you smoke, drink, or take drugs, and whether you exercise regularly.
- Ask about your stress level.
- Answer your questions. Take a list of questions, doubts, and concerns you have with you to this visit. This is the best time to ask questions and share any concerns you may have.
Your OB/GYN will:
- Check your urine sample to confirm the pregnancy.
- Check your blood pressure, weight, and height.
- Calculate your due date based on your last menstrual cycle and an ultrasound exam.
Your OB/GYN will perform the following prenatal blood tests:
- Determine your blood type and Rh (Rhesus) factor. Rh factor refers to a protein found on red blood cells. If the mother is Rh-negative (lacks the protein) and the father is Rh-positive (has the protein), the pregnancy requires a special level of care.
- Do a blood count (e.g., hemoglobin, hematocrit).
- Test for hepatitis B, HIV, rubella, and syphilis.
- Do a complete physical exam, including a pelvic exam, and cultures for gonorrhea and chlamydia.
- Do a Pap test or test for human papillomavirus (HPV) or both to screen for cervical cancer and infection with HPV, which can increase the risk for cervical cancer. The timing of these tests depends on the schedule recommended by your health care provider.
- Do an ultrasound test, depending on the week of pregnancy.
- Offer genetic testing: screening for Down syndrome and other chromosomal problems, cystic fibrosis, other specialized testing depending on history.
Prenatal Visit Schedule
If your pregnancy is healthy, your OB/GYN will set up a regular schedule for prenatal visits. The schedule may look like this:
Monthly up to 27 weeks
Every 2 weeks from the 28th week to 35th week
Weekly from 36th week to delivery
Later Prenatal Visits
During most of the visits, your OB/GYN will do the following:
- Check your weight gain to measure weight gain.
- Check your blood pressure.
- Check your hands and feet for swelling.
- Measure the size of your uterus to check fetal growth and development. This measurement is called the fundal height.
- Feel your abdomen to find the fetus’s position (later in pregnancy).
- Check the fetal heart rate.
- Perform some blood tests
- Perform an ultrasound.
Depending on your age and family history, your OB/GYN will perform tests to check for gestational diabetes and other conditions usually between 24 and 28 weeks.
Your OB/GYN may also give you a booster dose of whooping cough (pertussis) vaccine between 27 and 36 weeks.