Your Guide to Pregnancy Prenatal Appoinments & Tests
Congrats! You are pregnant!
The first thing that you need to do is to call your doctor’s office to get a blood test to indeed confirm the fact that you are expecting a bundle of joy. When that positive result comes back, you will then await your very first OB appointment for the health and wellness of you and your baby-to-be!
I won’t lie-there will be a lot of appointments and tests and even moreso if you have a strong medical background or any issues with your prior pregnancies.
If you have a normal and well pregnancy, this is how your pregnancy doctor’s visit and test timeline will look:
6-9 weeks: During this period, you will have your very first appointment. They will give you a urine test to check for gestational diabetes. Next, they will draw blood to run a variety of tests such as to check for STDs, determine your blood type, check for the presence of rH factor, and amount of HCG running through your system. During the time you might also get a PAP smear if you are not up to date to check for STDs. They will also give you your very first ultrasound to detect the baby’s heart beat-physically and audibly. It might be too early to hear the heartbeat using a Doppler. Using the ultrasound, the doctor will measure your baby to make sure you are indeed the correct amount of weeks along as based on your last menstrual period.
9-10 weeks: During this time, you are now able to test using NIPT or Non-Invasive Prenatal Testing to check for chromosomal and genetic disorders. Through this blood test, you might can find out the gender of your baby-to-be since the DNA will show up in your blood. This test is optional and is only ordered if the doctor has concern.
10-13 weeks: Your doctor can order a CVS test, also known as Chorionic Villi Sampling to look for further genetic and chromosomal defects. This test is optional and is only ordered if the doctor has concern. Also, during this time, the doctor will do a NT test (if she hasn’t requested already) which does the same as the CVS, but can also detect congential heart defects as well.
14-22 weeks: During this time, you will see the doctor again if you haven’t around week 12. Some doctors require you to be seen every 4 weeks, while with some, it could be a bit longer depending on your scheduling. When you are seen, the doctor will do a Quad Screening to further look for chromosomal defects. You might notice a ton of tests looking for these abnormalities and that’s because they are super important to keep track of your baby’s growth and developement. Your doctor will measure your belly and you will finally get to hear the baby’s heartbeat using a Doppler. My husband always got to find it, thanks to our friendly hands on doctor!
15 weeks: This is not a doctor’s appointment nor is a doctor’s order required, but many places who are known to do early ultrasound gender detection can start doing it as early as this week! There is a fee though.
16-18 weeks: If you are ordered to get an amniocentesis to check for futher chromosomal defects such as if your tests came back positive for an issue, you are likely to get your amniotic fluid drawn this week for specific testing. Note: this is optional and very invasive so it’s only done if there’s a problem or something that needs a further look.
18-22 weeks: This should be the timeframe of your third doctor’s appointment. You will get whats called a Level 2 Ultrasound or an Anatomy Ultrasound in which they go through each and every part of your baby-to-be to make sure everything appears physically normal. This also involves measuring amniotic fluid, measuring baby’s size, looking at the chambers of the heart and measuring the head, etc. If you have not found out the gender of your baby, this is usually the time when most parents get to!
Weeks 24-28: You will have another appointment just to see how your belly is measuring up, listen to baby’s heartbeat with the doppler machine, and just an overall well check. During this time, you will get that
yummy yucky Glucose Tolerance Test. Basically, you drink this orange fluid that tastes like SunKist concentrate then sit around for an hour. Then, you will pee in a cup for them to check your urine for glucose. This is all to make sure that you do not have gestational diabetes.
28-32 weeks: You will have another visit during this time, just as a routine with your other visits. Belly check & doppler to hear your baby’s heart beat. If you plan on getting a 4D ultrasound done somewhere, then the 29th week is the best and prime time to have one done because at this point the baby isn’t too big and there’s still room to look around.
35 weeks: Your doctor will see you and order a GBS (Group B Streptococcus) swab at this specific week. This is a common type of bacteria that can be risky to the baby during birth. It involves taking a cotton swab and lightly brushing the outside of the anus. Not fun, but its quick.
36 weeks: During this time, you will be seen once per week until you deliver. The doctor will measure your baby, listen to the baby’s heart rate, and see how you are progressing and preparing for labor.
37 weeks: You will come back to the doctor and this time, she might check your cervix for dilation using her fingers to measure. This is not very comfortable, but not too painful either. She will also measure your belly as usual and listen to the heartbeat.
38 weeks: During this visit, you will get yet another cervical check because things can happen so quickly!
39 weeks: During this visit, guess what? Same things. You will get another cervical check and if things are not progressing, you can talk to your doctor about “stripping your membranes.” This involves the doctor taking their fingers and sweeping around inside in a circular motion to help separate the membranes from the internal cervix, which can cause labor gradually. It would be like holding an orange that had a small hole in the peeling, inserting a finger through that small hole and separating the orange from the peeling.
40 weeks+: If you are overdue, you will have a NST or Non-Stress Test performed. Super easy-I actually had one ON my due date since I wasn’t progressing cervically. Basically, you get to sit in this comfy or (not-so-comfy) chair and have a monitor strapped to your belly as it performs tests for about an hour to make sure the baby’s doing just fine. A few reasons why it is done is maybe your baby isn’t moving as much, you are overdue, and if you are high risk. The primary goal of the test is to measure the heart rate of the fetus in response to its own movements. Healthy babies will respond with an increased heart rate during times of movement, and the heart rate will decrease at rest. The concept behind a non-stress test is that adequate oxygen is required for fetal activity and heart rate to be within normal ranges.
Congrats and I hope you love and enjoy each and every appointment! There’s something new and exciting with each one 🙂