Congratulations! You or your spouse is expectant and planning for the antenatal doctor visits already.
Are you all excited to go through the journey of pregnancy, but filled with jitters and questions? How many times and when will you need to visit the doctor? What are the supplements to take? How about any diet restrictions? What kind of scans or stuff will be done with your gynecologist or obstetrician?
Get all your uncertainties answered here! MEIDE Babysitters is happy to present to you our concise and informative summary on doctor visits for pregnant ladies:
This article does not serve as or attempt to replace professional medical advice. Despite our extensive experience and research, we still highly recommend seeking proper professional medical help if you need advice.
Our summary of the timeline here is rather generalized and suitable for expectant mothers or those intending to get pregnant soon!
Our article laying out the doctor visits and details are catered towards normal healthy pregnancies. If you have underlying medical conditions, significant past gynecological history, have more than one fetus (eg. twins), have undergone IVF, or have a high-risk pregnancy, then the information here may not apply to you.
Basic Antenatal Checks Each Visit
At every doctor’s visit, expect that your physician or surgeon will need to check in on your subjective wellness by asking you questions, and sometimes filling up questionnaires.
Almost, if not every visit, you will be asked to provide your urine for dipstick testing as well as to chart your weight and blood pressure. These regular tests help to detect risks of diabetes, pre-eclampsia, and the general pregnancy progress, as early as possible.
How Many O&G Appointments Do I Need?
Mostly, healthy pregnant ladies would end up with 10 to 15 doctor visits (at least 10), before the due date.
1st Doctor Visit: Dating and Viability Scan
Fast forward from your first positive pregnancy test and visit to the general practitioner, you should now be consuming daily Folic Acid supplements and ready for your first gynaecologist’s appointment.
During this first O&G visit for your pregnancy, expect to undergo a dating and viability ultrasound scan. This may be done over your abdomen, or sometimes through the vagina. This vital antenatal scan will tell you essential things, but certainly not limited to:
- The location/position of your early fetus (eg. whether it is safely and appropriate in the uterus or not);
- Whether it is a single, or multiple pregnancy;
- The presence of heartbeat / blood flow to ensure the pregnancy is viable;
- The more accurate gestational age of your baby (via ultrasound method called Crown Rump Length);
P.S. get the ultrasound print-out and keep it for memories!
Furthermore, pap smear may be done, if you were not screened recently already, to check for cervical malignancies and risks to your pregnancy.
History-taking to Understand You
During this visit, your specialist would also talk to you regarding numerous stuff to look out for during pregnancy such as diet, exercise, smoking cessation, vaccinations (yes, the flu jab is recommended any time during pregnancy!), and warning signs and symptoms to seek medical attention for.
Notably, the risks of miscarriage is 10 to 15% approximately even in the general healthy population, and the first trimester is usually regarded as the “most critical”. Hence, be sure to take time to digest this information, including how to manage your changing physiology, nausea and vomiting and so on.
Luckily, you now have a head start by reading this educational article and to know the general timeline for your pregnancy!
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2nd Visit: Blood Tests and FTS
In the second major doctor’s visit, your hospital or clinic will be arranging blood tests and scans. You should be around 12 weeks of pregnancy by now.
You will need to undergo FTS (First Trimester Screening) – which consists of NT (Nuchal Translucency) scan, as well as blood tests that check for risks of common genetic diseases. Specifically, Down’s Syndrome (Trisomy 21) and Trisomy 18 will be highly recommended to screen for.
With the advent of modern technology, an alternative called the “NIPT” (Non Invasive Prenatal Testing) to check for these genetic diseases may be offered to you too. Feel free to discuss the pros and cons and recommendations with your healthcare professionals!
If not already done, your gynae will want to draw your blood too to check for risks to your pregnancy journey, namely but not limited to:
- Hepatitis B
- Varicella Antibodies
- Full Blood Counts
- ABO and Rhesus Screening
3rd Visit: Review and Tdap
Also, as you enter the second trimester, at 14 weeks of gestation, your first trimester nausea and so-called “most critical” period of pregnancy may be passing, but never become careless or complacent. Continued doctor visits and pregnancy care for yourself and your baby is still extremely crucial.
As expected, a follow-up doctor’s visit shortly after your blood tests and FTS (or NIPT) would be required to review the results of the investigations.
Following the FTS or NIPT, there are numerous other types of investigations that may be done, depending on your profile. If your child is unfortunately at higher-than-normal risk, detailed discussions may be needed for you and your partner to decide whether to continue with pregnancy. Thus, this second doctor visit is important for parents-to-be to attend and understand.
Between 16 weeks of pregnancy to the end of your second trimester, your doctor will also recommend you to do the Tdap (or Boostrix) vaccination, which helps to guard you against Pertussis and tetanus infections.
4th Visit: Fetal Abnormality scan
Next, this FAS (Fetal Abnormality Scan) is a major milestone in the timeline for doctor visits. This is often done around 20 weeks of gestational age, in the second trimester. Be sure not to miss it as this doctor’s appointment is really important for you and your loved ones to know about the structures and growth of your fetus!
You will get a detailed written report and feel free to research and ask questions to your specialist.
Before we forget, as you are now into your second trimester, your doctor would likely also have stopped your Folic Acid supplements intake and transitioned into daily special Multivitamins for pregnant ladies (usually called Obimin). Omega-3 fish oil supplements could be taken too – for those who believe in it.
5th Visit: Screening for Gestational Diabetes and More
By the fifth major doctor visit, you would be approximately 26 weeks pregnant, and at the last week of the second trimester. This is one of the most common gestational periods for your O&G specialist to get you checked for GDM (Gestational Diabetes Melitus). At the same time, your thyroid levels may also be evaluated via a blood test to ensure the safety of your baby and your health.
Of course, as per every doctor’s visit, you will continue to be monitored for the fetal activity, heartbeat, your blood pressure and general well-being too.
6th to 10th Doctor Visits
Congratulations again as you would be in your third trimester by now! From 26 to 35 weeks of pregnancy, mothers/moms-to-be would be scheduled for a doctor visit every 2 weeks.
Of note, your O&G doctor would likely teach and advise you to count the number of baby kicks and keep a record as per here!
By the way, have you prepared your house, and obtained all the necessary newborn items (CHECKLIST HERE) for the newborn yet?
Final Few Visits Before Delivery
Finally, your due date is arriving very soon. From the 35th week of pregnancy onwards, your gynecologist would probably want to see you at least once a week. Other than a variety of checklists to go through to monitor your status, expect detailed discussions and planning for your delivery.
For example, your doctor will advise on the pros and cons of Cesarean versus natural vaginal delivery, the use (or non-usage) or analgesia and epidural, the process immediately after birth, the importance of skin-to-skin contact, breastfeeding, and so on.
Doctor Visits After Delivery
Your journey has just begun!
After giving birth, you will still need to see your doctor regularly. Your O&G consultant will need to check on your wound, your psychological health, and the baby’s well-being. Often, breastfeeding tips and experts will be around should you need their help too.
You would be scheduled too to see a pediatrician or neonatologist to follow up checks on your little baby. By now, you are ready for the next phase of parenthood – caring and nurturing your born child!
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