Is this your first pregnancy? There are two primary types of pregnancy care expectant mothers need—prenatal and postpartum. If you aren't sure what type of care you need right now, during the rest of your pregnancy, or after you give birth, take a look at the top obstetrics questions new mothers-to-be have answered.
When Should Prenatal Care Start?
Prenatal care starts in your first trimester. Even though you may not need to go to your OBGYN's office the moment you have a positive home pregnancy test, your doctor will want to see you soon. The first visit will include a health history and physical exam. After the doctor confirms your pregnancy, learns more about your reproductive and menstrual cycle history, they can provide a due date.
What Type of Prenatal Care Do You Need In the First Trimester?
The initial prenatal visit isn't the last time you'll see the doctor during your pregnancy. Instead, it's the first step in three trimesters' worth of care. The first trimester, or first three months of pregnancy, is a time of major changes—for both you and your baby. Your doctor will most likely order an RH test, hemoglobin test, and screen for some types of infections. You may also need genetic testing and an ultrasound.
Your baby's heart will start beating near or after six weeks of pregnancy, according to the Mayo Clinic. The doctor will listen to your baby's heart with a specialized device called a Doppler during one of your first trimester visits.
Along with blood tests, other lab work, and a Doppler or other ultrasound, the doctor will assess your overall health and talk to you about lifestyle factors that could impact the pregnancy.
What Type of Prenatal Care Will You Need for the Rest of Your Pregnancy?
You will need regular obstetrician visits throughout your entire pregnancy. During your first two trimesters, you will need to see a doctor every four weeks. This schedule will increase as you get farther into your third trimester. The doctor will listen to the baby's heartbeat, measure your growing abdomen, take your vitals, and may prescribe diagnostic testing. If your pregnancy is high-risk, you may need additional appointments or tests.
Does Pregnancy Care End At Birth?
The first six weeks after childbirth are the postpartum period. While prenatal care is no longer necessary, you will still need to see your obstetrician after you give birth. Provided you didn't have a high-risk pregnancy or complications during labor and delivery, you may not need an appointment until you are six weeks postpartum. The doctor will examine you and discuss your physical, psychological, and emotional health.