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What is a Prenatal Appointment?

A prenatal appointment is an appointment with your OB/GYN doctor to check on your health and assess the progress of your pregnancy. During the visit, you will be counseled on how to prepare properly for the labor and delivery of your baby. You can also ask questions to clear any doubts related to your pregnancy. Your partner, friend, or family member can accompany you to your prenatal appointments.

Why are Prenatal Appointments Necessary?

Prenatal appointments allow your OB/GYN doctor or trained healthcare professional to ensure that your pregnancy is progressing normally. Your doctor can identify and treat issues during the prenatal appointment that could result in a health risk to the mother or baby at later stage during the pregnancy. According to research studies, not receiving adequate prenatal care can result in babies having low birth weight and birth complications.

Prenatal Appointment Schedule

During a typical pregnancy, there may be between 10-15 prenatal appointments – once a month for the first 2 trimesters of pregnancy, then every other week until the 9th month of pregnancy, and every week thereafter until the delivery.  If you have a high-risk pregnancy, your OB/GYN doctor may choose to see you more often. 

Criteria for High-Risk Pregnancy

The criteria for a high-risk pregnancy include:

  • Existing health conditions such as diabetes, hypertension, or obesity
  • Multiple births (twins, triplets, or higher-order multiples)
  • Past complications such as premature labor, preeclampsia, or preterm birth
  • Teenage pregnancy
  • Older than 35 years of age

What to expect from a Prenatal Appointment?

During your prenatal appointments, your doctor may do the following:

Discuss the changes your body is going through and any signs or symptoms you are concerned about

  • Check your blood pressure and weight
  • Look for signs of swelling in the feet, hands, and face which may be due to extracellular fluid accumulation
  • Perform a pelvic and breast examination
  • Examine the size of your uterus vaginally
  • Measure the size of your growing abdomen and feel for the baby’s position and size
  • Listen for the baby’s heartbeat with a stethoscope
  • Offer guidance and tips to help you stay healthy and fit for the labor and delivery

Prenatal Tests

The various tests that may be ordered during the prenatal appointments include:

  • Pap smear
  • Blood tests to look for changes in hormone levels, anemia, and other abnormalities
  • Ultrasound and doppler scans to evaluate fetal growth
  • Nuchal translucency test (to check for chromosomal disorders)
American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists American College of Surgeons American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology