What to Expect at Prenatal Appointments

With the multitude of websites, forums, apps, and books containing information about pregnancy that are out today, mothers may be wondering, “What should I expect to learn at my prenatal appointments?  What information can be found at those prenatal appointments that wouldn’t, say, come up on a common Google search?”

Well, unlike the many resources that pregnant women have at their disposal in this era, prenatal visits that put them face-to-face with an OB-GYN, maternal fetal medicine doctor, nurse midwife or other knowledgeable medical provider should be personalized to fit their own bodies, pregnancies and health histories.  According to The American Pregnancy Association, the first prenatal visit often involves a lengthy discussion of the patient’s medical and reproductive history, advice regarding medications, travel, and diet, a physical examination involving both a pelvic examination and a pap smear, and a host of blood tests.  Each of these steps offers the doctor or nurse a clearer picture of that individual’s pregnancy, and the prenatal recommendations and follow-ups will then be tailored to that pregnancy.  Each patient is unique, and thus every pregnancy requires different care unique to their situation.

What to Expect at Prenatal Appointments Beyond just getting medical feedback from doctors and nurses during prenatal appointments, women also get the chance to explain their symptoms, feelings, or concerns to medical professionals.  Because the doctor now knows their background, lifestyle, risk factors, and other details, they will be able to offer advice specific to that individual.  These recommendations will be far more appropriate than anything a Google search could deliver for many reasons.  The medical advice will be tailored to that individual mother and her needs.

Prenatal visit schedules can vary from patient to patient. For a low-risk pregnancy, the patient may be advised to visit every four weeks until week twenty-eight, every two to three weeks through week thirty-six, and every week during the last month of pregnancy.  The presence of certain factors make it such that a doctor may instruct the patient to come see them more often.  Those high-risk pregnancy factors include age, number of children expected, pre-existing medical conditions, lifestyle choices, underlying conditions (high blood pressure or diabetes, for example), complications that may have come about during pregnancy, and risk of preterm birth.  

If the patient is instructed to see their prenatal provider more often, these appointments are often in response to the developments that require further medical supervision and control.  As the Center for Disease Control and Prevention website states, “Early prenatal care can provide necessary information to the mother and affect changes for nutrition-related and behavioral risk factors impacting the mother and baby.”  So when it comes to a healthy pregnancy, prenatal appointments should be tailored to meet the mother and baby’s specific needs.


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