Prenatal exams are important for assessing the health of both the mother and the baby, as well as monitoring the baby’s growth and development throughout pregnancy. Prenatal exams begin with a review of any recent symptoms followed by measurements of weight and blood pressure. A urine test and bloodwork may be performed. During the exam and depending on the stage of the pregnancy, the belly may be measured and gently pressed to determine the size and location of the baby and the baby’s heart may be monitored using a special device that can painlessly pick up sound waves through the mother’s skin. Ultrasounds may also be performed depending on the stage of the pregnancy, and guidance will be provided regarding how to stay healthy, what to expect during the next few weeks of pregnancy and whether or not genetic testing might be recommended. There will also be plenty of time to discuss concerns and ask questions.
Most patients see their obstetrician every month until week 28 of their pregnancy, then every other week until week 36 at which time visits become weekly until delivery. Women with high-risk pregnancies may need more frequent visits. Of course, it’s also important to call the office if any unusual symptoms like spotting or bleeding are noticed to have these issues evaluated.
High-risk pregnancies are those in which the health or the mother or baby or both are at risk due to complications, which can include:
Women with high-risk pregnancies typically need to have more frequent office visits and sometimes additional testing to ensure they and their babies remain healthy.
Most babies are delivered between 37 and 40 weeks of gestation. If a pregnancy goes far beyond 41 or 42 weeks, it can present health issues for both the baby and the mother. In those cases, labor may be induced using special medicines to stimulate contractions.
*Individual results may vary