You should schedule your first appointment as soon as you are sure you are pregnant. Normally, this is about the 6th to 8th weak. This visit will include an initial pelvic examination, a general physical examination, a pap smear, a chlamydia screen, a pregnancy test and a prenatal blood profile.
Unless yours is identified as high-risk pregnancy, you’ll undergo monthly examinations until the 28th week. These will include measuring your weight and blood pressure, checking your urine for protein and sugar, listening to the fetal heart sounds by Doppler, measuring the height of the uterus fundus (the top of the uterus). Checking for swelling in the legs and hands and discussing any symptoms and other issues of relevance to you and your caregiver. An alpha-fetoprotein will be done between 15 and 16 weeks to rule out neural tube defects unless another form of prenatal testing (such as an amniocentesis) is done instead. Many caregivers will repeat a blood test for anemia at around 28 weeks. A vaginal Beta strep culture will probably be taken between the 26th and 28th week. A hepatitis B screen is often done late in the second trimester, and a one hour glucose tolerance test is usually done to evaluate for the presence of gestational diabetes, unless you are a known diabetic.
Essentially the same things will be done on the subsequent visits from 26 to 36 weeks, but they will be done every two weeks instead of every month.
Between 36 weeks and delivery, you will see your caregiver weekly. On these visits there will be, along with the same recurring components of the prior visits, pelvic examinations to check the cervix for raffacement and dilation and the baby for station and position or “lie”.
PRE AND POSTNATAL CLASSES
You can enroll in prenatal classes in the first and second trimester to cover such concerns as nutrition, exercise, fetal development, hygiene and so forth. You may also buy a video or CD on Antenatal classes and see it at your own time at home.
In the seventh or eighth month, you may wish to attend childbirth classes. These classes are usually a series of weekly meetings lasting about 6 to 10 weeks. Classes in the Bradley method of childbirth begins as soon as your pregnancy is confirmed and lasts the entire nine months. All childbirth classes are offered either by your caregiver, your local hospital or birthing center, or in freestanding locations in your neighbor hood. Ask you doctor about these classes.
The basic topics covered in most classes include a review anatomy and physiology referable to childbearing, pregnancy health issues, the laboring process, controlled relaxation and breathing exercises, medications and analgesia options, delivery, newborn care and the postpartum experience.
After you deliver, we recommend that you enroll in a postpartum exercise class, if your caregiver approves. You can even enroll in prenatal exercise classes once your pregnancy is confirmed. This will usually take for a smoother and more enjoyable pregnancy and delivery. Ask your caregiver for a list of such classes in your area.