Why Regular Prenatal Checkups are Important
Prenatal checkups are essential to ensure a healthy pregnancy. Not only do these appointments allow the obstetrician to monitor the developing fetus, it also allows the physician to observe the mother as well. These checkups will help ensure that have the healthiest pregnancy possible.
First Trimester: Decide the Due Date and Confirm You Are Pregnant
A woman may not know she is pregnant until a few weeks after conception. The first appointment usually involves a pregnancy test to ensure that the woman is indeed pregnant, and that the lack of menstruation is not due to hormonal or nutritional imbalances. Once the pregnancy has been confirmed, there are several other tests that will follow. According to The Mayo Clinic, common tests performed in the first trimester of pregnancy include checking the mother’s hormone and hemoglobin levels along with ultrasounds to estimate the gestation of the fetus and approximate a due date. These ultrasounds also allow the doctor to rule out things like ectopic pregnancy.
If your OB/GYN detects any abnormalities or if you have a medical condition such as diabetes or high blood pressure, you may be referred to a high risk obstetrician to ensure you receive specialized care (Source: Dr. Gilbert Webb).
Second Trimester: Monitor the Baby’s Growth
During the second trimester, an expecting mother can expect her body to begin to change. These changes will need to be monitored by a doctor to make sure that the pregnancy is progressing as expected and that the fetus is developing the way it should be. These appointments will include listening to the baby’s heartbeat and measuring the growth of the uterus. Weight and blood pressure will be checked frequently to be certain that the mother’s body is handling the stress of pregnancy. These prenatal doctor visits may also allow for the mother to determine the sex of her baby if she so chooses.
Third Trimester: Planning Your Delivery
The final trimester is often the most emotionally stressful for expecting mothers. As the due date approaches, the doctor will be monitoring the position of the baby and the changes in the cervix in anticipation for labor and delivery. Every pregnancy is different, and so is every labor. This means that fetal movement and any sign of contraction will have to be closely monitored by the mother on a daily basis so that she can recognize if something is out of the ordinary. These final checkups are also where birth plans, delivery techniques, and post-delivery recovery will be discussed and decided.
Regardless of whether it is the first pregnancy or the fourth, it is important for women to have the support of an experienced healthcare professional to ensure that her pregnancy is a safe and healthy experience for both her and her child. If you haven’t decided on a doctor for your prenatal checkups, check sites like Zocdoc.com for information on doctors in your area.