What should I expect at prenatal appointments?

When do prenatal appointments start?

Prenatal appointments begin when you are around 8-11 weeks pregnant and continue until you give birth. It is recommended that low-risk individuals have prenatal appointments every four weeks until 30 weeks gestation, every two weeks from 32-36 weeks gestation, and weekly starting at week 37 until the baby is born.

What topics are covered in a prenatal appointment?

Your first appointment will likely occur around 8-11 weeks gestation and will likely be longer and more in-depth than other appointments. This appointment is an opportunity for your chosen healthcare provider to understand your specific medical history and to perform a medical exam. You may also be offered an ultrasound requisition to get a more accurate estimate of your due date.

Typically, topics that will be covered in your first appointment include:

  • The date of your last menstrual period, the average length of your cycles (to help determine your estimated due date)

  • Your health history both currently and prior to becoming pregnant

  • Your pregnancy, miscarriage, and abortion history, if applicable

  • Any family history of health conditions

  • Your lifestyle (including diet, drug and/or alcohol use, any current stress, and your work, and home situations)

  • You will be offered a physical exam, which may include a PAP smear. Your care provider will listen to your baby’s heartbeat with a doppler. This may be harder to do if you are closer to 8 weeks, and being unable to identify a heartbeat via doppler does not necessarily indicate an issue with your pregnancy

Subsequent appointments will be shorter. In general, if you have a midwife your appointments may be on the longer side, and if you have an OBGYN or family doctor they may be briefer.

Common topics that will be covered at other prenatal visits include:

  • Taking your blood pressure

  • Listening to your baby’s heartbeat

  • Addressing any questions/concerns you might have about your pregnancy

  • Measuring your baby’s fundal height (beginning around 20 weeks gestation)

  • Explaining routine tests

When will prenatal ultrasounds occur?

In addition to your regular prenatal visits, you will be offered ultrasounds throughout your pregnancy.

Typical ultrasounds occur around:

  • 8-11 weeks: dating ultrasound to determine your EDD (estimated due date)

  • 18-22 weeks: anatomy ultrasound and to determine the sex of the baby (you can also choose to keep the sex a surprise until delivery!)

As long as these ultrasounds are normal and the size of your abdomen is consistent with your baby’s gestation, these will likely be the only ultrasounds you will receive.

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