Essential Visits to the Doctor during Pregnancy
Why visiting the doctor is important during pregnancy?
Once a woman becomes pregnant it’s important that she gets the proper care known as antenatal care and support for both herself and the baby. The doctor would perform some tests on the mother to prevent, diagnose and treat any disease, she might suffer from.
The doctor would also recommend the mother to follow a healthy lifestyle including eating a balanced diet and exercising regularly. This way the doctor makes sure that the pregnancy period passes smoothly and that she delivers a healthy baby at the end of it.
How many visits to the doctor does a pregnant woman have to go through?
A woman should visit a doctor anywhere between 5 to 15 times during her pregnancy. It is important that a woman goes to a doctor whom she trusts and has confidence in. This way the mother and the doctor can work together and do what is best for the health of the baby.
The Initial Visit
The initial visit or first visit to the doctor takes place at 8 weeks of gestation. During this visit, the doctor takes a complete medical history of the mother, a thorough physical examination is done which includes a pelvic exam, breast exam. urine test and pap smear,
The mother might also have an ultrasound and some blood tests which check the level of glucose in blood along with presence of infections such as rubella, hepatitis B & C, varicella and gonorrhea. It is during the first visit that a woman might discuss about lifestyle changes, genetic diseases and restrictions she may need to observe during her pregnancy.
The Second Visit
The second visit takes place between 9 to 14 weeks of gestation. A number of tests are performed during this visit including checking the level of B-hCg, a hormone which confirms the pregnancy of a woman.
A Nuchal Translucency Scan and pregnancy associated plasma protein A tests can be done during this visit to see whether or not the fetus is at risk of developing Down Syndrome.
Chorionic Villus Sampling is a procedure which can be done during this visit in order to detect genetic conditions such as Down Syndrome, Thalassemia, Sickle Cell Anemia and Cystic Fibrosis.
The Third Visit
This visit occurs between 15 to 22 weeks of gestation. Maternal Serum Alpha Feto Protein is a test performed in order to detect the level of Alpha Feto Protein. High levels of this protein suggest the developing baby has a neural tube defect such as spina bifida or anencephaly. High levels of this protein might also suggest a defect in the oesophagus of the baby or abdomen.
On the other hand, low levels of Alpha Feto Protein might indicate the presence of chromosomal abnormalities such as Down Syndrome and Edward Syndrome. Quad Screening Test is another procedure which detects the presence of neural tube defects such as spina bifida and chromosomal abnormalities such as Down Syndrome.
Amniocentesis is a procedure which may be performed at this stage if we need to detect fetal infections, chromosomal abnormalities as well as determination of the gender of the baby.
The Fourth Visit
This visit takes place between 18 to 20 weeks of gestation. It is during this visit that an ultrasound is done in order to get a full view of the fetus and to assess the progress of the pregnancy and the overall health of the baby.
The Fifth Visit
This visit occurs between the weeks 24 and 28 of gestation. A glucose tolerance test is done at this stage to check the level of glucose in the blood and prevent development of gestational diabetes.
The Sixth Visit
This visit takes place between 28 to 30 weeks of gestation. It is during this visit that the doctor administers Rh antibodies in the mother’s blood. These antibodies prevent an Rh negative mother’s antibodies from reacting against the red blood cells of the fetus thereby avoiding their subsequent destruction. Not administering such antibodies into the mother might lead the fetus to suffer from a severe, possibly fatal, form of anemia known as Erythroblastosis Fetalis.
The Seventh Visit
This visit takes place between 35 to 40 weeks of gestation. This visit focuses on blood tests which detect any abnormality in the blood including anemia and infections such as chlamydia. This visit focuses on the overall health of the mother and her baby as well as making sure that the mother is ready for delivery.
Summary of Doctor Essential Visits
The table below summarizes the visits and tests performed by the doctor on the mother.
Tests / Procedures
Obstetrical History is taken
Genetic screening(if required)
Complete Blood Count,
Rh factor (screening and type)
HbA1c (in pre-existing diabetes)
Urinalysis and culture,
Infections, STDs etc.
Rubella Antibody Titer,
Hepatitis B Surface Antigen,
Hepatitis C virus(HCV),
Varicella(if anyone has history once)
These tests help to check and document over all well being of the pregnant woman.
Bloods tests are performed that help prevent fetus from any possible infectious diseases from being transferred from the mother.
And if you are a diabetic mother, regular monitoring of your blood sugar will help prevent complications.
|9-14||B-hcG, nuchal transparency, PAPP-A,Chorionic villus sampling (CVS)||Detects fetal malformation e.g Down syndrome, CVS have 1-2% risk of fetal loss, limb defects if performed earlier than 10 weeks
|15-22||MS-AFP or Quad screening,amniocentesis||Detects neural tube defects.
|18-20||Ultrasonogram||First Full view of fetus,
|24-28||1-hr oral glucose tolerance test(OGTT)||Screening of gestational diabetes
|28-30||RhoGam||(For Rh-ve mother)Prevents mother from subsequent pregnancy loss
|35-40||Group B streptococcus culture,
Repeat gonorrhea,chlamydia cultures,RPR(syphilis)
|A final check on mother’s and fetus well being before delivery.|
*complete blood count(CBC) Hepatitis surface antigens(HBsAg)