How Many Times Will I See a Care Provider While I’m Pregnant?
Here’s The Scoop
Great question! If you have recently found out you’re pregnant, one of the first things you might be wondering about is how often you should be having prenatal visits with your care provider. In the course of a normal, healthy pregnancy, your care provider will typically schedule visits with you based on this general schedule:
- Weeks 4 to 28: approximately 1 visit per month
- Weeks 28 to 36: approximately 1 visit every 2 weeks
- Weeks 36 to 40: 1 visit every week
Therefore, assuming everything goes according to plan, you will have up to 14 check-ups in all, give or take. As soon as you pee on the stick and suspect you’re pregnant, you should schedule your first appointment as soon as possible to confirm the results. This usually happens somewhere between 4-8 weeks. Depending on the care provider and how busy they are, they might not be able to get you in right away, so don’t hold off on making this appointment. It’s advised to stick to the schedule your care provider suggests because there are certain benchmark tests and scans that occur at various stages of the pregnancy, so timing matters.
In the first trimester, you can expect your first fetal ultrasound to take place somewhere between 11 and 14 weeks along with a blood test. The Nuchal Translucency (NT) screening uses the ultrasound to check the area at the back of your baby’s neck for extra fluid or thickening. This same ultrasound will also confirm the pregnancy, establish the due date, detect the number of babies (oh my!) and check for ectopic pregnancy. In combination with two serum (blood) tests, the Pregnancy-associated Plasma Protein screening PAPP-A and human Chorionic Gonadotropin (hCG), these screenings can help determine the presence of genetic birth defects.
Between the 15th and 20th week of pregnancy, a blood sample will be taken to run a series of blood tests, referred to as multiple markers. The multiple markers will test for various genetic conditions and birth defects. They include testing for Alpha-fetoprotein screening (AFP), Estriol, and Inhibin. Any abnormal results may require further testing, for example, amniocentesis which involves taking a small sample of the amniotic fluid, or Chorionic villus sampling (CVS), which takes a sample of some of the placental tissue. Your next ultrasound will be done between 18 and 20 weeks where they check your baby’s anatomy, the position of the placenta, and the baby’s gender (you get to decide if you want to know what it is or keep it a surprise until their birthday).
Of course, this is just a general idea of what a routine prenatal care schedule looks like. Your scope of care and number of visits may vary depending on specific things that are unique to your pregnancy. If your next appointment isn’t scheduled for another couple of weeks but you have a feeling something isn’t right, trust your gut and get an appointment as soon as possible. Never dismiss your intuition if you have the sense there may be something wrong.
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