In the past, many births occurred at home and the expectant mother may have only seen a doctor in the beginning to confirm pregnancy and at the time of birth to help deliver the baby. However, modern day pregnancies usually involve seeing an OBGYN several times and giving birth to the baby in a hospital. Prenatal exams are performed to ensure both the mother and the baby are in the best of health during the pregnancy. These are some of the things that commonly occur during prenatal visits.
Pregnancy is normally divided up into trimesters. The first trimester occurs from the time you become pregnant through the 12th week of pregnancy. It is during this time when you will have your very first visit with an OBGYN. You should make your first appointment with the doctor as soon as you have a positive pregnancy test. This ensures you and your baby get the proper care during those early stages.
During your first trimester visit, you will get to hear the baby's heartbeat, have a gynecological exam and have a long list of questions to answer about your medical history. A physical exam will be done to ensure you are healthy enough to carry your baby full term.
Blood tests and urine tests will also be done to give you a more accurate due date and also to ensure there are no existing health conditions that may endanger the baby.
The second trimester normally arrives around the 13th week of pregnancy. During this time, your visits with your OBGYN will increase. At each visit you will take a urine test, get to hear your baby's heartbeat and have a vaginal exam. You will also be given a variety of different diagnostic tests to detect if there are any chromosome abnormalities to be concerned about.
The doctor will check for conditions such as gestational diabetes, gestational hypertension or preeclampsia. Your belly will be measured and you will most likely have an ultrasound during this time. The ultrasound tells the doctor the size and weight of the baby and may also reveal the sex of your child if you wish to know this.
The final stage of pregnancy is the third trimester. This begins during week 29 and goes through until the birth of your child. During this trimester, the doctor may perform additional ultrasounds to make sure the baby is developing at the expected rate.
A Group B Strep test is usually performed during the third trimester. This test determines if there is bacteria in your vaginal or rectal area which may endanger the baby during birth. A biophysical profile of the baby is also done to ensure the baby is strong and healthy enough to endure the stress of delivery.
At different times throughout your pregnancy, there may be other tests that are performed to ensure you and your baby are as healthy as possible. This can vary depending on your age, any pre-existing conditions you may have and if you happen to be pregnant with multiples.