What can I expect at my prenatal visits?

Pregnant individual waiting in a health care providers office

Have you ever felt nervous about seeing your doctor for your health exam?   Well, visiting your health care provider when you’re pregnant can also make you feel anxious, especially when you don’t know what to expect.

Choose a midwife, obstetrician, family doctor or nurse practitioner early in your pregnancy.

Your health care provider (HCP) will conduct a full physical assessment and mental health history. This will be done to identify health conditions that may need to be monitored during your pregnancy.

Regular appointments with your HCP will take place:

  • Once a month until you are 30 weeks pregnant
  • Twice a month when you are 30-36 weeks
  • Once a week from 37 weeks until labour starts

Note: Frequency of visits may increase based on your HCP’s assessment of risk.

At every appointment, the HCP should assess your:

  • Blood pressure
    • Increasing blood pressure can have health consequences for both mom and baby, and needs to be monitored.
  • Urine screen
  • Weight gain
    • Your weight will increase as your pregnancy progresses. Your recommended weight gain during pregnancy is based on your pre-pregnancy weight.
  • Fetal movement and heart rate.
  • Size of uterus to check fetal growth.

Make a list of your questions and ask them at your prenatal appointment.

Some prenatal tests are standard and routine, while others are ordered at the discretion of your HCP. The frequency and need of such tests can change throughout your pregnancy.  Here are some examples:

  • An Ultrasound is done at 8-14 weeks and then again at 18-22 weeks for full head to toe assessment of baby.
  • The Glucose Challenge done between 24-28 weeks to check your blood sugar levels one hour after consuming a sugary drink. Repeat tests and follow up will be needed if levels are high.
  • Group B streptococci bacteria check is usually done between 35-37 weeks; a positive test for this bacteria in your vagina and rectum may require antibiotics to be given during labour and birth to decrease risk of infection to baby.
  • An amniocentesis may be recommended (it is not mandatory) if your screening test was positive for a genetic anomaly, or if you are of advanced maternal age.

Screening tests are done to check abnormalities in your baby. If you have a family history of genetic conditions, you can choose to have genetic testing done after having a conversation with your HCP.

Discuss and consult with your HCP as early as you can in your pregnancy. Trusting and knowing you can talk about your feelings and concerns can help decrease any anxiety you may have during this special time.

Learn more about common topics to discuss during your prenatal appointments and/or chat with a nurse to obtain more information.

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