Getting Ready for Baby: Your Guide to 9 Months of Prenatal AppointmentsCheckable Health
There’s probably nothing more exciting and slightly terrifying than seeing those two pink lines or the word PREGNANT announced loud and clear on a home pregnancy test. OK, you’re pregnant…now what?!
Find a doctor
First, you’ll want to call your OBGYN and tell them you’re expecting. They can help you estimate a due date based on the date of your last menstrual period and then get that first appointment scheduled. If you don’t have an OBGYN, now is an excellent time to start your search. Some clinics will let you come in for brief consultation appointments where you can meet the doctor to see if they’ll be a good fit for your care team. It’s important to note that while you may have a doctor you love, you may not see them at every appointment, so be prepared to be flexible if that’s the case.
And here’s a pro tip: if you think you’ve found an OB that you like and after the first couple of appointments, things just aren’t clicking, you can absolutely switch doctors and find someone that fits your style better. Don’t feel like once you have that first appointment, you’re locked in with that provider for the next nine months.
Making that first appointment
In our Checkable podcast episode 8, A Real-life Guide for First Time Moms, one of our Checkable moms summed up exactly what it’s like to make your very first obstetrics appointment. “So it's kind of weird because when you first get pregnant, you call, talk to a nurse, and you're like, Hi, I'm pregnant, and I'm excited. What do I do now? And what's kind of scary is unless you're experiencing bleeding or something along the lines where there might be a concern, I was told we would have to wait until I was eight weeks along to go in. And although that might sound short, when you're only a few weeks pregnant, you feel like that's a long, long way away before you're going to see anything. You're not feeling kicks at that point, and you might not even be experiencing any nausea or anything like that, so things just kind of feel the same. And in a way, that feels concerning because you don't have anything indicating that you're still pregnant.” So having patience and trust that things are developing as they should be are two skills that will be useful at this point.
How often are appointments?
This will vary based on your health, the baby’s health, any medical concerns or issues, or if you’re considered a high-risk pregnancy. The appointments frequently increase as the baby grows and you get closer to your due date. This is to ensure the baby is developing properly and to watch out for the development of any potentially dangerous conditions like preeclampsia.
The typical schedule for appointments looks like this:
- Weeks 4 to 28: Every month
- Weeks 28 to 36: Every other week
- Week 36 to delivery: Every week
What happens at these appointments?
At every appointment, they’ll first check your vitals. They’ll check your weight to ensure you and baby are both growing on pace, check your blood pressure, and check your urine for protein (a sign of possible preeclampsia) or too much sugar (possible gestational diabetes). You’ll also get to hear your baby’s heartbeat at nearly every appointment. At later appointments, they’ll also measure your belly to ensure growth is on track for how many weeks along you are. There may also be blood tests and sometimes vaccines or boosters ordered by your doctor.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions during your appointment or answer any of their questions truthfully (stress, sleeping habits, drinking, drug use, etc.). The doctors aren’t there to judge, they just want to make sure you and your baby get the best possible care.
Ultrasounds are the favorite appointment for a lot of parents-to-be. It’s that grainy, black-and-white glimpse at that sweet little fingers, toes, and face. The first one is usually done at the 8-week appointment (most often done vaginally) and again at 20 weeks. The 20-week ultrasound is the appointment you can find out the sex of the baby if you choose. Some doctors will perform ultrasounds more frequently, and some may be required more often to monitor any health concerns.
As you can see, you’ll be spending a lot of time at the doctor’s office during your pregnancy, so it’s important to find a doctor you like and one who makes you feel heard. There are a lot of appointments, but each one is a chance to see how your little one is growing inside of you, and before you know it, you’ll be holding them in your arms. Here’s to a happy, healthy pregnancy. For tips on what to pack for the hospital, check out our hospital bag essentials.
Life is too short to sit in a doctor’s office
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