Prenatal Care Q & A
How often do I need to have a prenatal exam while I am pregnant?
Most moms-to-be have prenatal care visits every month for the first few months until the 28th week of pregnancy. Then visits come every two weeks until week 36, at which time visits usually occur weekly. Women with high-risk pregnancies usually need to come in more frequently for exams and any recommended tests to ensure they and their babies stay healthy throughout the pregnancy.
What is a high-risk pregnancy?
A high-risk pregnancy occurs when the mother or baby has — or is at risk for — a medical or health condition that could compromise the health and wellness of the mother or baby (or both) during pregnancy or delivery. Women with high-risk pregnancies may be at an increased risk of miscarriage, delivery problems, or problems with the development of their unborn baby. Some of the most common causes of high-risk pregnancies include:
- Older age
- Drug or alcohol use
- High blood pressure or diabetes that exists before pregnancy or develops during pregnancy
- Having had several prior miscarriages
In addition to having more frequent office visits during pregnancy, women with high-risk pregnancies usually have additional testing and ultrasounds to ensure that they and their babies stay healthy.
What happens during a prenatal care office visit?
- Measure the circumference of your belly to track the baby’s growth
- Listen to the baby’s heartbeat
- Perform an ultrasound examination
Patients may be asked to provide a urine sample or a blood sample for testing.
- How to stay healthy during pregnancy
- What signs or symptoms to look out for
- What to expect during the next few weeks as the baby grows
When will I have an ultrasound?
Ultrasounds can be performed at different stages of pregnancy. Usually in the first trimester, an ultrasound will be performed to:
- Confirm a delivery date
- Determine if you’re carrying more than one baby
- Check on the fetus and placenta
Later, ultrasounds may be performed to:
- Monitor the baby’s growth and development
- Determine the baby’s position
- Evaluate the placenta and pelvis prior to delivery