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Prenatal Care for a Healthy Pregnancy

Published on February 10, 2015 by Virginia Women's Center

Whether you’re a first-time mother-to-be or experienced in pregnancy, our team at Virginia Women’s Center will be with you every step of the way. In this post, you’ll find a general schedule of appointments to expect throughout your pregnancy. However, the number of appointments and ultrasounds you have in a pregnancy depends on a many factors including your health, your baby’s health and your family history.

Ultrasound imageYour first visit, typically scheduled between eight and 10 weeks gestation, is the most comprehensive of all the prenatal visits. Afterwards, you will have appointments monthly, up through 28 weeks gestation; every two to three weeks from 28 to 36 weeks; and weekly from 36 weeks to delivery. You may wish to alternate your prenatal care appointments between your physician and a board-certified nurse practitioner. On each visit, your health care provider will spend time answering any questions you may have. He or she will chart the baby’s growth and heartbeat. Your health care provider will also check your weight and blood pressure and your urine for sugar and protein. Pelvic exams and lab tests will be performed as needed.

First prenatal visit (typically 8-10 weeks):

  • Your health, including your medical, OB-GYN, social and family history, will be thoroughly assessed. Your health care provider will perform routine tests, including a pelvic exam (if due), urinalysis and blood work. He or she will discuss exercise, nutrition, pregnancy precautions and your questions. Your health care provider will also review your options for prenatal testing.
  • Your first ultrasound at Virginia Women’s Center will typically be between eight and 10 weeks gestation. In early pregnancy, ultrasound is used to confirm a uterine pregnancy, check the baby’s heartbeat and verify your due date.
  • If you will be pregnant during flu season (October through March), you will be offered the seasonal flu vaccine. The seasonal flu shot is recommended during pregnancy. The vaccine poses no danger to the baby, and you cannot get the seasonal flu from the seasonal flu shot. Pregnant women should not have the “live” or activated seasonal influenza vaccine which comes in nasal spray form.


12-14 weeks:

  • You will likely be able to hear your baby’s heartbeat.
  • You have the option of having a first trimester screen for genetic abnormalities, including Down syndrome, Trisomy 18 and Trisomy 13.


16-18 weeks:

  • If you had the first trimester screen at your last appointment, you have the option of having the AFP screening test for neural tube defects.
  • If you did not have the first trimester screen at your last appointment, you have the option of having a TETRA screen for genetic abnormalities, including Down syndrome and Trisomy 18.


20-22 weeks:

  • During this more detailed ultrasound, the technologist and your health care provider will be examining the baby’s heartbeat, location, breathing, movement, size and gender (if you wish to find out). This ultrasound will also examine the location of the placenta, the amount of amniotic fluid as well as any abnormalities.


24-26 weeks:

  • Your health care provider will begin to measure your uterus with an external tape measure.


28-30 weeks:

  • You will have the third trimester screen for gestational diabetes. You will drink a glucose beverage when you arrive at your appointment. Your blood will be drawn one hour after you finish this drink. You should avoid eating or drinking anything high in sugar on the way to your appointment. However, you do not need to fast.
  • You will be offered the Tdap vaccine to prevent whooping cough
  • You will begin to have prenatal appointments every two to three weeks.


32 weeks:

  • At this visit, you may want to start considering the following:
    • Will you bottle feed or breastfeed your baby?
    • If you’re having a boy, will he be circumcised?
    • Who will be your baby’s pediatrician?
    • What form of birth control will you use after you have your baby?


34-40 weeks:

  • You will be tested for Group Beta Strep (GBS), a common bacteria which may cause newborn infection. If you test positive for GBS, you will most likely receive treatment with antibiotics during labor to help prevent GBS from being passed to your baby.
  • You will begin to have weekly visits and pelvic exams to evaluation dilation.
  • You will likely have spotting after a cervical exam.


It’s important to go to all of your prenatal appointments, even if you are feeling well. Regular prenatal care helps your health care provider make sure you and your baby are healthy.


About Virginia Women’s Center
Our care team – comprised of OB-GYNs, high-risk pregnancy specialists, nurse practitioners, ultrasound technologists, psychologists and a genetic counselor – are experienced in all aspects of pregnancy and welcome the opportunity to help you LIVE HEALTHY during your pregnancy. We have added all of these services and specialists to our practice not only for your convenience, but also because we believe that you will benefit from a coordinated and comprehensive approach to your pregnancy care. For more information, visit, or find us on Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter.