What is a Prenatal Visit?
A prenatal visit is a routine visit you make to your doctor or midwife while pregnant. You should expect to make several visits to your doctor or midwife throughout the course of your pregnancy.
When Should I Schedule My First Prenatal Visit?
The date of your first visit depends on a number of factors, depending on how far along you were when you found out about the pregnancy, your health history, and your doctor's policies. Generally, your best option is to call your OB/GYN as soon as you find out you are pregnant, and they will let you know when to come in.
How Often Will I Have Prenatal Visits?
Most doctors will have you come in every four weeks throughout your first and second trimesters. During the third trimester, you will likely come in every two weeks at first, and then every week once you hit 36 weeks. Of course, if you have health concerns that put your pregnancy at greater risk, you may need to come in a little more frequently. Your doctor will let you know.
Because of how frequently you can expect to see your doctor throughout the course of your pregnancy, choosing one you like and feel comfortable with is essential.
What Happens at a Prenatal Visit?
While each visit may differ slightly, here is what you can expect at a prenatal visit: At the first visit, the doctor or nurse will likely take your medical history and your vital signs, including your height, weight and blood pressure. The doctor will listen to the baby's heartbeat and feel and measure your abdomen. Occasionally, you will give a urine or blood sample and you'll probably have an ultrasound or two. Toward the end of your pregnancy, your doctor will also check to see how far dilated you are.
Your doctor should also talk to you about any questions or concerns you have and instruct you on how to best care for yourself and your growing baby. Don't be afraid to ask questions, especially if this is your first pregnancy or if something doesn't seem right.
Prenatal visits are routine, so don't be surprised if they are fairly short after the first one. The doctor simply wants to check to make sure everything is looking okay, and if it is, you should be good to go until your next appointment!