Prenatal care is critical for the health of your unborn baby.
Regular OB-GYN visits can ensure your little bundle of joy arrives safe, sound, and has every possible advantage when it comes to health. If you’re pregnant, you’ll want to focus on keeping yourself and your baby-to-be as healthy as possible.
First Trimester (Weeks 1-13)
During your initial prenatal visit, the obstetrician will determine your baby’s due date, generally about 280 days from the first day of your last period. The doctor will ask questions about your health and any history of illnesses to determine whether any risk factors are present that could affect mother or child. Your doctor will ask about previous pregnancies, surgeries, medical conditions, as well as any current medications you may be taking.
At this point, a physical exam is performed to ensure your body can properly support the pregnancy. This typically includes an examination of the uterus and pelvis, as well as listening to the baby’s heartbeat.
Additional tests may be ordered such as blood tests to rule out exposure to communicable diseases such as hepatitis, gonorrhea, syphilis, or HIV, or to measure your iron and blood sugar levels to monitor you for anemia or gestational diabetes if you are at risk of those conditions during your pregnancy. Your doctor may also check for immunity to diseases like rubella and chickenpox.
During the first trimester, monthly checks of weight, blood pressure, blood sugar, and more are conducted to manage your health during this earliest stage of pregnancy. Other tests may be performed, depending on personal conditions or special needs.
Second Trimester (Weeks 14-27)
At this stage, visits with your obstetrician may occur every 2-3 weeks, or more frequently if specific risk factors are present. Your doctor will continue to monitor your blood pressure and weight at each visit. During the second trimester, this will also include measuring the distance from the pubic bone to the top of the uterus to gauge the size of the fetus and chart its development and growth.
By now, your baby’s heartbeat will be checked at each visit, and the obstetrician will ask about any sensation of flutters and kicks from the baby. Your belly bulge is more pronounced, morning sickness has typically ceased, and overall well-being often marks the second trimester. Usually, by the weeks 18-20 time, you will feel the baby inside beginning to move and make itself comfortable.
At this stage, your obstetrician will offer to test for the presence of genetic conditions like spina bifida or Down syndrome. An amniocentesis involves drawing a small sample of the fluid surrounding the baby to test for genetic abnormalities such as Down syndrome. A fetal ultrasound (sonogram) may detect signs of spina bifida, and allows doctor and parents to “view” the baby in real-time as it develops in the womb. Ultrasound is also the usual way to identify the gender of the baby.
Third Trimester (28 Weeks to Birth)
By now, the mother is well-rounded with a baby bump and is beginning to focus on the birth and arrival of the baby. Visits to your doctor may occur weekly at this point.
It’s in the third trimester that your doctor may screen you for group B streptococcus (GBS), bacteria common in the vagina of healthy women, but can be dangerous to a naturally delivered baby. If exposed to GBS, newborns can become extremely ill. The test is typically done in the third trimester because GBS can come and go during pregnancy. If you test positive for GBS, your doctor will need to administer IV antibiotics during the birth of your baby. This is common and done quite frequently.
Your doctor will verify the position of the baby and ensure it is head-down. If the baby is positioned rump-first at this point, it is unlikely move into a head-down position in time for birth and creates a risk of breech delivery. At this stage, your doctor may try to manipulate the fetus into proper position. Otherwise, a C-section may be scheduled if necessary to ensure a safe delivery.
No matter the stage of your pregnancy, make sure to ask plenty of questions when visiting your obstetrician. And remember: there is no such thing as a dumb question. Obviously, there is much more going on during your pregnancy, but these are the highlights of prenatal care you’ll receive at the OB-GYN’s office. So, if you’re expecting, good prenatal medical care is the best way to give your baby a healthy birthday.
Contact University OBGYN Associates in Syracuse to schedule your prenatal care with the best-qualified obstetricians and gynecologists by calling (315) 464-5162 or request an appointment now. Let us help you celebrate your new baby with the best possible health care before he or she is even born.