One of the most important things you can do for yourself and your baby is to seek prenatal care as soon as you suspect you may be pregnant. By the time many women call for an appointment with an obstetrician or other physician who provides prenatal care, they already know they are pregnant. They have all the symptoms and a pregnancy test that they performed at home was positive for pregnancy.
If your pregnancy has not been confirmed by a test, you can have one done at your physician’s office. Most physicians advise that as soon as you have missed a period especially when you are trying to get pregnant seek prenatal care. At the very latest, wait no longer than two missed periods.
During your first visit you will fill out a detailed health form and your physician will ask you many questions about your family history and overall health to determine whether there are any preexisting conditions that may cause problems or call for special measures during the pregnancy. It is important to determine when you conceived, so the physician will ask you about your menstrual history to try to pin- point when the baby will be born. This is only an approximation, however. Most babies are not born on the precise date they are expected. It is perfectly normal for a baby to be born anywhere from 2 weeks before to 2 weeks after the due date.
After taking your medical history, your physician will perform a physical examination and a pelvic examination . Typically, after this first visit a pelvic examination usually is not done again until the last weeks of pregnancy, and then it is done to determine whether labor is imminent. Blood and urine tests are done during the first visit. The visit usually concludes with the physician discussing pregnancy with you, advising you on nutrition, weight gain, and exercise, and alerting you to potential complications such as vaginal bleeding. Most physicians see their pregnant patients once a month for the first 7 months, twice during the eighth month, and then weekly.
After the initial prenatal care visit, your regular visits usually begin with your weight and blood pressure being determined, and you also will be asked to submit a urine sample for testing. Your physician also will want to know whether you are having any problems such as headache, altered vision, abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, swelling of the legs or feet, or vaginal bleeding. Write down any questions that have occurred to you during the past month so that you remember to ask your physician.
After about 10 to 12 weeks gestation, an exciting part of the prenatal care visit is listening to your baby’s heartbeat, which can be detected with a Doppler instrument (a means of amplifying sound). Your physician will feel your abdomen to determine whether the baby is growing properly. Sometimes there is a discrepancy between when you thought the conception occurred and the size of the fetus. When fetal age is in question, your physician may request that an ultrasound examination be done to determine whether the fetus is indeed older than was believed. This is a painless test that uses high frequency sound waves to record a picture of the fetus, allowing the physician to measure the width of the baby’s skull. The fetus usually can be seen with this test, also called ultrasonography, 7 weeks after the last menstrual period. The ultrasound test has had a major impact on the practice of obstetrics in that it can supply vital information about the health of the fetus without invading the body. In addition to its use in determining fetal age, it can clearly show whether you are carrying more than one baby, whether the infant has all its parts, whether it is growing properly, the position of the placenta, and, in some cases, the sex of the child.
Some physicians have small ultrasound devices in their offices and use them during prenatal care visits to reassure the mother that the baby is alive and active. These units generally, however, cannot provide much detailed information about the fetus, so most ultrasound studies are done in hospitals or radiology offices.
Pregnancy Week To Week 1- 40