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What Happens During a Prenatal Visit?

Article Details
  • Written By: A. Pasbjerg
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 13 October 2018
  • Copyright Protected:
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    Conjecture Corporation
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A pregnant woman can expect to visit her doctor multiple times during pregnancy to ensure everything is progressing normally. The first prenatal visit will be used to establish a baseline for the mother's health and review a variety of important topics pertinent to the pregnancy. After that, visits should be scheduled throughout the pregnancy for the doctor to assess the mother's and baby's progress and determine if there are any issues that may be of concern.

The first prenatal visit is typically the longest, as the doctor will be gathering extensive information pertinent to the pregnancy. He or she will generally take full medical history, including familial history of disease or genetic disorders, current medical conditions and medications being used, and any habits like smoking or alcohol. Gynecological details including past pregnancies and any STDs will be discussed, and the first day of the woman's last period will be used to evaluate the estimated due date. A physical exam and Pap smear will usually be performed, and blood or urine samples will likely be ordered to assess certain diseases and factors that may affect pregnancy. The doctor will also typically discuss important things to consider throughout the pregnancy, such as what foods to eat or avoid, physical symptoms, and exercise.

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During the first and second trimesters, a prenatal visit is scheduled about once every four weeks. The mother's weight and blood pressure are measured, and a urine sample is typically taken. The doctor usually measures the growth of the mother's belly and checks the baby's heart rate and position in the uterus. He or she will normally discuss how the mother is feeling and any symptoms she might be having, and answer any questions. At certain times, additional tests may be ordered if appropriate.

In the third trimester, a woman can expect to have a prenatal visit every two weeks until the 36th week, and then weekly up to the time she delivers. Typically, the doctor will continue with the same steps taken during the second trimester, but will also start looking at factors that can affect the birth. He or she will focus on how often the baby is moving, its growth rate, and whether it is in the correct position with the head down. Risk factors such as preeclampsia, placenta previa, and glucose tolerance will be reviewed and assessed. Questions regarding the birth and postpartum care will also be discussed during these visits.

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