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How Do I Select a Prenatal Care Provider?
If you're trying to choose a doctor to care for you during your pregnancy and delivery, you should know that some birth places or settings are more "mother-friendly" than others. Birthing care that is better and healthier for mothers and babies is called "mother-friendly." Learn ten questions to ask to help you choose a doctor that will be able to provide you with the care you are looking for. If you need a referral for a Dr. or Midwife call MomCare.
When & How Often Should I See My Doctor During My Pregnancy?
As soon as you know you're pregnant, you should schedule your first doctor's appointment. Getting early prenatal care will increase your likelihood of having a healthy pregnancy and baby. You will probably be scheduled to see your doctor about once a month up to your twenty-eighth week of pregnancy, twice a month for weeks twenty-eight through thirty-six, and weekly for weeks thirty-six to birth. Getting regular prenatal care will help your provider be able to spot and treat health problems early and will allow for time to discuss how you can help give your baby the best start to life.
What Can I Expect During My Doctor's Visits?
At your first visit you will be given a Healthy Start screen. You will be asked about your and your family's health history, a complete physical exam and pelvic and pap test will be performed, and your due date will be calculated. You can also expect to have a sample of your blood and urine taken for lab work. Your blood pressure, and height and weight will be recorded and your weight gain will be measured. Your abdomen will be measured to check your baby's growth, and your baby's heart rate will be checked. You will also have some routine tests like checking for anemia and blood type, and you will be able to ask questions and discuss any issues related to your pregnancy. For more information on prenatal care visit womenshealth.gov's Prenatal Care Fact Sheet.
What Can I Expect During My 1st Trimester?
Your body is preparing for a developing baby with a flood of pregnancy hormones. With this comes lots of changes. You may not look pregnant, but you are experiencing what it feels like to be pregnant. You may be experiencing morning sickness, mood swings, headaches, fatigue, dizziness, tender breasts, and increase in urination. Hang in there, because these symptoms are all temporary as your body is adjusting to many changes.
What Can I Expect During My 2nd Trimester?
You may start to feel your baby move inside of you. The nausea and fatigue you were experiencing in the first trimester may be gone. You will notice your breasts and belly growing larger. You may begin to experience Braxton Hicks contractions, also known as "false labor" or "practice contractions." Certain areas of your skin may become darker, and you may notice stretch marks developing. You may also experience nasal congestion, bleeding gums, leg cramps, shortness of breath, and vaginal discharge.
What Can I Expect During My 3rd Trimester?
You may feel uncomfortable in your third trimester. The fatigue you experienced in the first trimester may come back, and you may have difficulty sleeping. Your body is continuing to gain weight, including your breasts, and you may experience backaches. You may also experience shortness of breath, swelling, heartburn, and frequent urination. Braxton Hicks contractions may come and go, and the increase in your blood's circulation may cause you to develop varicose veins. It is also common to experience vaginal discharge. The good news is you're in the final stretch!
How is My Baby Developing?
At only five weeks of pregnancy, the developing fetus is about the size of a sesame seed and the heart is beating. By the end of the first trimester (week 13), your baby is about three and a half inches long and toes, ears, and teeth have formed and the digestive tract is already producing bile and practicing movements. You may even be able to hear the heart beat at your first prenatal visit. Your baby is developing rapidly from week to week. You're considred full-term at 37 weeks, but your baby is undergoing important developmental changes during the last few weeks, including developments of the brain, lungs, and eyes.
Visit the babycenter for week to week explanations and pictures of how your baby is developing, how your body is changing, and for helpful tips.
What are Signs of Pretem Labor?
When Should I Call My Healthcare Provider?
If you experience any signs of preterm labor or noticed that your baby has stopped moving as frequently, you should call your healthcare provider. Of course, your doctor or midwife will give you more information on reasons to call them.
More Information & Resources
Information on the Importance Waiting 39 Weeks Deliver
March of Dimes Infographic on 39 Weeks
Information on "How to Have a Better Birth," including videos and print materials
Be informed on how pregnant women can prepare for specific emergencies.
Make a plan to be prepared during an emergency. Learn emergency preparedness basics and emergency planning for pregnant women and new mothers.
Keep Your Unborn Baby Infection Free
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention website features an article, Protect Your Unborn Baby or Newborn from Infections. Learn prefentitive measures to keep your baby infection free and get information on foods to avoid during pregnancy.