by Shannon Bartlett
Congratulations, you're expecting! In a few short months, you'll be giving birth and holding your wee babe in your arms!
Part of your pregnancy journey is your series of prenatal checkups.
Most women can expect between 10 and 15 visits during their pregnancies. The amount of visits depends on your clinic's policy and whether your pregnancy is high-risk or not.
While you might have already been in for your official pregnancy test, today is your first official prenatal appointment.
The office might schedule you to come in as early as six weeks or as late as 13 weeks. Let's get you ready!
Your provider will probably ask you more questions than you knew existed. They will ask about your medical and pregnancy history, and lifestyle. You'll have tests and a physical exam. You and your healthcare provider will use this results to personalize a care plan for your pregnancy.
• Filling out your medical history. Go ahead and cheat on this "exam." It's perfectly okay and encouraged to bring notes from home. Do you have diabetes or high blood pressure? Do they run in your family? Have you been pregnant before? Do you or the dad smoke? Are you aware of genetic defects in either family? Even if something seems insignificant to you, your midwife or doctor might find the information useful.
• Get ready for the exam: Here's your big chance to model an attractive office gown. We admit this might not be the highlight of your visit and you might be a nervous mom-to-be. Take a deep breath and remember that all of these tests are routine.
• Scheduling your next appointments. Get your next prenatal visit in the calendar and schedule a dating ultrasound, unless you have one today. Did you? Don't forget to ask for a copy of your "baby's first picture!" It makes a great memento.
• Blood work: The lab will take a few vials of blood and check your iron level and immunities. If you have a family history of genetic disorders or if certain genetic disorders are more common among people of your racial or ethnic background, you might be offered additional screening tests.
• Pelvic exam and Pap smear: During the pelvic exam, your midwife or doctor takes a Pap smear to screen for cervical cancer and cultures to detect sexually transmitted diseases. An internal exam checks the size of your uterus and pelvis and also looks for any abnormalities of the uterus, ovaries, or fallopian tubes.
• Breast exam: Your healthcare provider will first look at your breasts for abnormalities in size or shape, or changes in the skin of the breasts or nipple. Then, using the pads of the fingers, the examiner will gently feel palpate your breasts, looking for lumps.
• Weigh in: Kick off your shoes and step up on the scale. During each appointment your weight will be checked. If you start pregnancy at a normal weight, experts suggest you gain of two to four pounds the first trimester and about a pound a week for the rest of the pregnancy.
• Check blood pressure: At each prenatal checkup your healthcare provider will check your blood pressure. If it's high early in pregnancy, you'll be offered extra blood pressure checks, stress management ideas and if necessary, medication.
• Screen urine: During this test you will urinate in a cup and the urine will be tested for protein, sugar and bacteria. Who ever knew pee had such a story to tell.