Prenatal appointments are exciting as well as important things to look forward to. They will form a regular part of your schedule in pregnancy and even if you are hard pressed for time, the general recommendation is to not miss any of them since they are necessary to rule out any complication or issue with the pregnancy beforehand.
How often should you visit your doctor? Prenatal appointments are generally fixed by the doctor as and when he feels necessary but a more or less planned structure is as follows:
- Once a month in between Weeks 4 and 28
- Once every two weeks between Week 28 and 36
- Once every week between Week 36 and 40
While this is a general trend, there are exceptions in which the doctor may want more follow-ups and more frequent visits to keep an eye on the development of the baby. Some of the situations in which prenatal appointments can be more frequent are:
If the doctor feels that the baby is not growing as per standards, he/she may suspect IUGR tendencies or Intra-Uterine Growth tendencies that have symptoms like the baby not gaining enough weight and possible has nutritional deficiencies and inadequate oxygen supply. The doctor will advise you to eat well, stay more active and prescribe medication if necessary and will also ask you to visit more often for frequent monitoring of foetal weight until it is stabilised.
Maternal Age More Than 35
While age is not an indication of a healthy pregnancy, it surely is a risk factor that your doctor will not ignore. Women aged 35 and above might deliver babies with birth defects and this is why frequent prenatal appointments are important to rule out any such defect in the course of pregnancy so that they can be treated while the baby is in the womb.
Risk Of Miscarriage
If you have had miscarriage/s before, your doctor would want to keep a close eye on your pregnancy so that any complication is identified before it becomes an issue. If you have a dangerously low-lying placenta1 and have had vaginal bleeding in the course of pregnancy, your doctor is most likely to check on you every two weeks.
If you have developed gestational hypertension or gestational diabetes, you will need constant checkups to avoid any kind of complication. If you are anaemic, you might need more frequent visits to avoid getting sick often.
Chances Of Preterm Labour
If you have frequent contractions well ahead of your due date, or you waters break early, your doctor might want to monitor you regularly so that you don’t end up having preterm labour. He might also consider admitting you if your symptoms are more intense.
As exciting it is to hear your baby’s heartbeat and see him/her on the Ultrasound screen, prenatal visits are much more than just that. They are means to ensure that your pregnancy is on the right track and you have a healthy baby on your way.