Congratulations on Your Pregnancy Part 1: Routine Prenatal Care Schedule

Congratulations on your pregnancy! I’m excited to help you bring your baby into this world. Most women have questions about what to expect, even if this isn’t their first pregnancy. So we’ve put together some information to help address common questions and concerns. In this first post, we’re going to talk about what a typical routine prenatal care schedule looks like and the common tests that you can expect to be performed during this time.

Routine Prenatal Care Schedule

For a typical pregnancy, visits are usually every four weeks until 28 weeks, then two weeks until 35 weeks, and then weekly until you deliver. Some women may have higher risk pregnancies (such as high blood pressure, gestational diabetes, etc.) which will require more testing and more frequent visits.

Tests and Ultrasounds

  • 8 – 12 weeks  |  First visit, prenatal labs, genetic testing (optional) and first trimester ultrasound
  • 20 weeks  |  Anatomy scan
  • 26 – 28 weeks  |  Anemia and diabetic testing, Tdap vaccine and  Rhogam shot if Rh negative
  • 35 – 37 weeks  |  Strep screening and checking for position of baby

At every visit we will check your blood pressure and collect a urine sample.

Optional Genetic Testing

  • Cell Free Fetal DNA is a screening test for chromosomal disorders in the developing baby, such as Down syndrome (trisomy 21), Edwards syndrome (trisomy 18), or Patau syndrome (trisomy 13). This test can also reveal the gender of the baby, and may be performed after 10 weeks of pregnancy. Your insurance may or may not cover the cost of this test. Click here to check for coverage.
  • The quad screen is a blood test that screens for chromosomal abnormalities such as Down syndrome, trisomy 18 and neural tube defects such as spina bifida. This is done between 15 and 20 weeks.
  • Cystic Fibrosis screening is performed to test if the mother is a carrier for the cystic fibrosis disorder. Cystic fibrosis is an inherited disorder affecting the lungs and digestive tract, and can be life-threatening.
  • Carrier Screenings are additional tests that can determine if our patients are at high risk of passing on certain disorders and diseases such as Fragile X or spinal muscular atrophy. Click here or here to learn more and estimate your cost for this test visit.

Other Tests, Vaccines and Monitorings

  • Gestational Diabetes Testing is a test that screens for diabetes. You will drink a sugary drink called “glucola”, wait 1 hour and have your blood drawn. You do not have to fast before this test; however, it is best to avoid eating a large amount of sugar or high-carb foods before the test. If the test is positive, you will be asked to return for a second test called a 3-hour glucose tolerance test.
  • Whooping Cough Prevention (Tdap) is a vaccine that protects against Tetanus, Diphtheria, and Pertussis (whooping cough). Although mom is getting the shot, the shot is actually for the baby to protect against whooping cough. We recommend anyone who will be caring for your infant to have a Tdap “booster” vaccine if they haven’t had one in the last 10 years. Whooping cough is becoming more prevalent in the community, and the only way to protect your baby initially is for others around him/her be vaccinated.
  • Flu Vaccines are recommended by the CDC for pregnant women during any trimester of pregnancy in order to protect themselves and their newborn baby from the flu. Because of changes in the immune system, heart, and lungs during pregnancy (and women who have given birth during the past two weeks), the flu is more likely to cause severe illness resulting in hospitalization in pregnant women than in healthy non-pregnant women. Studies show that not only can flu vaccines be given safely during pregnancy, but vaccines given during pregnancy can also help protect a baby after birth from the flu because of antibodies that are passed onto the developing baby.
  • Group B Strep Screening (GBS) is performed at 35 – 37 weeks. Group B streptococcus is one of the many types of bacteria that live in the body and usually does not cause serious illness. It can be present in the vagina and rectum, and cause serious infection for babies. Women who test positive will receive antibiotics during labor to decrease the possibility of infection in baby. Click here for more information.
  • Blood Pressure will be monitored at every visit to help screen for pre-eclampsia which can develop during the second and third trimester of pregnancy. Pre-eclampsia is a multi system disorder and can be life threatening if left untreated. Symptoms of pre-eclampsia are severe headaches (unresolved with Tylenol), vision change, constant pain in your right upper stomach, and sudden, severe swelling. Most of these symptoms occur normally during pregnancy, but if your blood pressure is also elevated, you must be screened for pre-eclampsia. Please let your provider know if you are experiencing any of these symptoms.

If you have any additional questions regarding what to expect during your prenatal appointments, please don’t hesitate to contact my office.