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Pregnancy 101: The Beginning And The End

Once you are pregnant, it is important to have your first prenatal visit as soon as possible if you haven't had a preconception visit. If you have had a recent preconception visit, are otherwise healthy, and know the date of the first day of your last menstrual period (LMP), it is safe to schedule this first prenatal visit at about 8 weeks of pregnancy.

It is important to know your LMP in order to calculate your due date and to know how many weeks pregnant you are. You can do this yourself by clicking on the "due date calculator" at www.womenintheknow.com. If you do not know your LMP, your clinician may want to order an early ultrasound test to see how far along you are. For this purpose, the ultrasound is most reliable if done in the first trimester.

Not all pregnant women require an ultrasound test. Prenatal tests that most women will get in the first trimester (unless some were done at a preconception visit) include:

  • physical exam: with breast exam
  • fetal heart beat check (with Doppler instrument)
  • weight and blood pressure will be checked at each visit
  • pelvic exam: with Pap smear and other cervical tests such as those for cervical strep B, gonorrhea, and chlamydia
  • common blood tests: blood count, rubella screen, blood type and Rh, varicella screen (if no history of chicken pox), and Hepatitis B screen
  • urinalysis (urine "dip-stick" may be repeated at each visit)
  • Prenatal Care:

    General Schedule of Visits

    0-27 weeks gestation: every 4-6 weeks
    28-35 weeks gestation: every 2-3 weeks
    36-42 weeks gestation: every week

    High risk patients may require more frequent visits.

    As long as there have been pregnancies, there have been "old wives tales" or myths about pregnancy. While many of these are harmless, some may cause unnecessary stress, and some provide blatantly incorrect health information. This may indeed cause harm for someone who thought these statements were fact instead of fiction.

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     Receiving early and consistent prenatal care increases the likelihood of a healthy birth outcome. . .for mother and child. 

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