Something people don’t tell you about pregnancy: You’ll be spending a lot of time with your doc. And keeping track of all your appointments can be overwhelming, to say the least. That’s why we tapped two OB-GYNs — Dr. Anita Sadaty and Dr. Jian Jenny Tang — for a week-by-week breakdown of the pregnancy appointments timeline, and what to expect from each visit.
How often do I need to go to the doctor when I’m pregnant?
Quite often. You may be visiting your provider at least 10 times during your pregnancy. All to make sure you have the healthiest pregnancy possible. For uncomplicated pregnancies, expect to see your provider every four weeks until you’re about 28 weeks pregnant, says Dr. Sadaty. Visits pick up from there. During weeks 28 to 36 of pregnancy you’ll likely see them every two weeks. After that, the visits increase to weekly.
Pregnancy complications or a higher-risk pregnancy — like if you’re over 35, are having twins or more, or have certain health conditions — can mean more visits. As in, you may see your doctor as often as twice a month or more often. “The more significant the risk, the more frequently the baby and mom will need to be monitored,” says Dr. Sadaty.
What does a typical pregnancy appointment timeline look like?
At each appointment, expect routine tests and check-ups for: Blood pressure, weight, urine, and the fetal heartbeat. Here's what you can expect from your appointments during each trimester, with the help of Dr. Sadaty and Dr. Tang.
Note: No two pregnancies are the same, and your provider may follow different schedules or screening procedures. If you have any questions or concerns, make sure to give them a call.
Psst: You can download a copy of this prenatal appointments timeline here.
First trimester appointments
6-10 weeks: Aka your first appointment after a positive pregnancy test. Your doctor will perform an ultrasound, confirm the due date, look for the baby’s heartbeat, do blood tests, and a pelvic exam. They’ll also make sure the fertilized egg is in the uterus and the pregnancy is not ectopic.
10-13 weeks: Your doctor will perform an ultrasound to make sure the baby is growing. They may also perform an NIPT (noninvasive prenatal testing) blood test to detect chromosomal abnormalities like Down syndrome. And, you could also learn the baby’s sex.
11-13 weeks: Your doctor may do a nuchal translucency scan (NT), which measures the amount of fluid at the back of the baby’s neck. It’s another test that can help indicate if your baby has certain conditions like Down syndrome, congenital heart disease, or other genetic abnormalities.
Second trimester appointments
18-22 weeks: Your provider will perform an anatomy scan to see if the baby has any physical abnormalities. You may need a follow-up scan if they see anything of concern. Your provider may also perform an AFP test, which is blood work done to test for genetic abnormalities. And, if you didn’t find out the baby’s sex during your first trimester, they can tell you now.
25-28 weeks: You’ll be screened for gestational diabetes. It goes down like this: You drink a liquid that contains glucose, then one-hour later you have your blood drawn. If your glucose levels are high, they may perform another test and/or give a diagnosis for gestational diabetes. Separately, you’ll get a scan to monitor the baby’s growth and heartbeat.
Third trimester appointments
30- 34 weeks: This is when you’ll start to have appointments every two weeks. They may do another growth scan, as well as check your baby’s heartbeat and position.
35-37 weeks: Your doctor will screen for Group B streptococcus, either with a vaginal and rectal swab or a urine test. It’s a bacteria that’s typically harmless for adults, but could potentially infect the baby during delivery.
36+ weeks: Here’s when you’ll start seeing your doctor weekly until you reach the big day. That’s because your baby “grows almost half a pound a week,” says Dr. Tang. You may also have a cervical exam, which helps determine the baby’s position and how prepared the cervix is for labor.
After you have your baby (congrats, BTW), you can expect some follow-up appointments to monitor your recovery.
If you had a C-section, you’ll see your provider about two weeks later to assess the incision and remove any surgical staples if needed, says Dr. Sadaty. If you delivered vaginally, it's recommended that you see your doctor within three weeks for a first check-up. However, your doctor should schedule a comprehensive postpartum visit within 12 weeks of birth — including an assessment of your physical, social, and psychological well-being, according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. They’ll check to see how well you’re healing, address any breastfeeding concerns, and screen for postpartum depression. They may also talk about birth control methods, when you can start to have sex again, and what exercise your body can handle.
There’s a million things to think about during pregnancy, but with this list, the slew of upcoming doctor appointments doesn’t have to be one of them.
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