Prenatal Care

Prenatal-CareOne of the most important aspects of pregnancy is routine prenatal care. During pregnancy, your body and your baby constantly change in ways that require special attention from your doctor to ensure a healthy pregnancy, delivery, and baby.

Benefits of Prenatal Care

Prenatal care has been proven to:

  • Reduce the risk of pregnancy complications for both mom and baby
  • Lower the risk of premature labor and low birth weight
  • Promote the health of the mother
  • Result in a healthy delivery

How Often Do You Go for Prenatal Care Check-ups?

Most pregnant women follow the below schedule for routine prenatal check-ups.

  • An initial visit at 6-8 weeks
  • Every four weeks from weeks 8-28
  • Every two weeks from weeks 28-36
  • Weekly until delivery

Your doctor may recommend more frequent checkups if there are any complications or health changes during your pregnancy. Your partner or support person is always welcome to attend your prenatal visits.

What Happens at Your First Prenatal Care Visit?

A lot happens at your first prenatal visit. Your doctor will assess your overall health by performing a physical exam and collecting a detailed medical history. You can plan to discuss your lifestyle and any changes you may need to make to ensure that you have a healthy pregnancy. This is also the perfect time to ask any questions regarding your pregnancy. Some other things you may expect at your first prenatal care appointment include:

  • Height and weight measurements
  • Blood pressure check
  • Urine and blood tests to check your blood type, blood count, immunity to certain infections, and check for exposure to other infections
  • Discuss prenatal tests that may be available to you
  • Discuss prenatal vitamins
  • Breast and pelvic exam
  • Genetic testing

What Medical Care Can You Expect at Your Prenatal Visits?

A routine part of prenatal care is testing to determine any risk of genetic conditions or birth defects within your baby. At each visit, you can expect:

  • To have your weight taken
  • Your blood pressure checked
  • A quick physical exam to check for ankle swelling
  • A measurement of your uterus
  • A check the baby’s heart rate using a Doppler

During the first trimester, several different screening tests can be done to check for genetic conditions in the baby. Some of these tests include:

  • Carrier screening: This blood test looks for genetic conditions such as cystic fibrosis or spinal muscular atrophy.
  • Early ultrasound: Sometimes performed to date your pregnancy correctly.
  • Cell-free fetal DNA testing: This test checks for Down Syndrome. It is typically done after nine weeks of pregnancy and involves providing a blood sample.
  • Chorionic villus sampling: This diagnostic test checks tissue from the placenta. It may be offered if you are older than 35, if there are concerns about genetic conditions in the family, or if any other first-trimester screening shows an increased risk of congenital problems.
  • First-trimester screening: First-trimester screening involves blood testing and an ultrasound to screen for birth defects like Down syndrome and heart defects. This test is usually done between 11 and 13 weeks of pregnancy.

During the second trimester, your doctor may perform:

  • Maternal blood screening (quad screening): This screening test checks birth defects like Down syndrome and is performed by a blood test between 15 and 22 weeks of pregnancy.
  • 20-week ultrasound: At around 20 weeks, your doctor will perform an ultrasound to check your baby’s development to ensure everything is forming correctly. The ultrasound can also determine the baby’s size, growth, heartbeat, and gender.
  • Amniocentesis: Amniocentesis is performed by removing a sample of amniotic fluid from around your baby. The fluid is then tested for any potential risk of birth defects or genetic conditions.
  • Glucose testing: A glucose test is done between 24 and 28 weeks of pregnancy to determine if the mother has diabetes.

During the last trimester of pregnancy, your doctor may require additional ultrasounds or blood tests depending on any concerns found during other screening tests. Then around 36 weeks, your doctor will do a test to check for a bacteria called group b strep in your vagina. If the test is positive, receiving a dose of antibiotics while you are in labor is usually recommended to reduce the risk of the bacteria harming the baby.

Looking for Prenatal Care to Support You?

If you are pregnant or planning to become pregnant, schedule an appointment with a compassionate expert to ensure you and your baby have a healthy and happy pregnancy!

Quick Facts
  • Helps ensure a healthy pregnancy.

  • Check-ups are done at regular intervals.

  • Support from an expert provider throughout.

OB/GYN Doctors


“Great service. Dr. Shelton was my OB and delivered my son. He was always willing to answer questions and very knowledgeable. He was kind and courteous during delivery because let’s be honest… that’s not the most flattering moment in a woman’s life.” – BW

“Dr. Cohen is an amazing Dr. Along with her staff and the reception team it’s always a pleasant experience. I know I can call and leave messages for the team if I have questions or concerns. Dr. Cohen was with me through my whole pregnancy, rooting me on during delivery. Best team there could be.” – NP

“I absolutely love Dr. Kelly. I’m on my third pregnancy now and she has been my OB for all three. She’s always understanding and considerate when I need someone to talk too and she always makes sure I don’t have any additional questions before our appointment is over. She will ALWAYS be my recommended OB at the Women’s Health Center.” – KM