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Getting Ready for Baby: What to Expect During Prenatal Office Visits

Pregnancy is a special time full of excitement and more than a few visits to your obstetrician (OB). On average, the prenatal period lasts 40 weeks, and can last up to 42 weeks. During that time you can expect a minimum of 14 OB appointments – some in the office, others over the phone with a personal nurse liaison. If your pregnancy is high-risk, you will have more.

“It’s very important to attend every OB appointment,” says obstetrician-gynecologist Amy DePuy, MD with LVPG Obstetrics and Gynecology–1245 Cedar Crest. “Our maternity care pathway is structured to ensure you get the care you need at each visit, no matter which office or doctor you see.”

The maternity care pathway

At each office visit, your weight will be checked to see if you are gaining too much or too little. You also will have a check of your pulse, urine and blood pressure. Sugar in your urine may indicate diabetes, and high blood pressure along with protein in urine can reveal signs of pre-eclampsia. In addition, your doctor will watch for signs of urinary tract infection, which can go unnoticed during pregnancy. Later, office visits will include measuring your belly to monitor baby’s growth and listening to baby’s heart tones.

It’s important to start taking a daily prenatal vitamin as soon as you know you’re pregnant. DePuy recommends taking prenatal vitamins up to three months before you conceive to help prevent neural tube defects.

Here’s a guide to some of the care you can expect throughout pregnancy:

8-18 weeks – A nurse will take your personal medical history at 8 weeks, give you pregnancy education material, and provide a script for prenatal blood work. Some women may get an ultrasound. Your first physical exam will take place at the 9 week appointment, when your doctor will review your lab work, confirm whether your pregnancy is high- or low-risk, and offer genetic screening options. Most women will have their first ultrasound at this visit.

Beginning at 14 weeks, your doctor will check to hear the baby’s heart tones. And at 18 weeks, your personal nurse liaison will call you to discuss any concerns or problems you’re experiencing, confirm your ultrasound and make sure your next office visit is scheduled to review the results.

Second trimester:

20-28 weeks – Your doctor will begin checking heart tones and fetal movement at each office visit, and also review your ultrasound results. At 24 weeks you’ll get a script for blood work and review educational information. You’ll also get a link to watch a video to help prepare you for the rest of pregnancy, and the labor and delivery journey. Your lab results will be reviewed at the 28 week visit. In addition, your doctor will give you a maternal preference list to consider before your next visit.

Third trimester:

32-41 weeks – You will discuss the labor and delivery experience with your doctor, and review and sign your maternal preference list. Your personal nurse liaison will call you at 37 weeks to review educational materials and answer your questions. In addition, your provider will continue to monitor your health and baby’s health through standard screens, and discuss antenatal (before birth) test results.

“It’s important to talk to your provider to learn as much as you can to prepare for the birth of your baby,” DePuy says. “Your obstetrician and personal nurse liaison will be there every step of the way to guide you through your pregnancy. Our goal is to partner with our patients to provide the best birth experience possible.”

Learn more about pregnancy, childbirth and baby care

Lehigh Valley Health Network offers a variety of prenatal, parenting, breastfeeding and other classes to help you get ready for baby. Baby Bundle is another convenient resource for moms and families available in both English and Spanish. Download the free mobile app and e-book, then start following your baby’s growth week-by-week or by trimester. Visit LVHN.org/welcomebaby for more information.