Your Prenatal Visits
Our obstetric team will do all we can to help you feel comfortable, informed and prepared through every step of your pregnancy.
Your first visit
Your first prenatal visit to the Washington University obstetric practice is usually between 6 and 11 weeks after your last menstrual period. This may be your first introduction to your care team. You’ll meet with a physician as well as your obstetric care coordinator.
The first visit includes:
- Medical history to review risk factors for your pregnancy
- Physical exam, including a pelvic exam
- Ultrasound to confirm your pregnancy and timing; the ultrasound may be transvaginal (with the probe inserted partially into your vagina) and may be slightly uncomfortable, but it is not harmful to the baby in any way (read more about ultrasound evaluations below)
- Genetic screening information and recommendations; screenings can test for conditions including Down Syndrome and spina bifida (read more about prenatal genetic counseling below)
- Blood tests, depending on your medical history, risks and needs
Based on your results, we will make arrangements for any further necessary blood tests and future ultrasounds. Our team will review the overall plan for the rest of your pregnancy and answer any questions you have.
Your obstetric care educator – a full-time, dedicated registered nurse – will guide you throughout your pregnancy and after delivery. She can help you with anything from scheduling visits and tours to answering questions about your and your baby’s health. We also offer childbirth and baby care classes designed to help you and your family prepare for your baby’s arrival.
You’ll also receive an “Expectant Mom” packet during your visit. The packet includes helpful information about your pregnancy, including details about diet, exercise and common medications. You are always encouraged to call our office with any questions or concerns.
After your first visit, you’ll have several followup visits throughout your pregnancy. We’ll check your blood pressure, listen to baby’s heartbeat, and talk about how you’re feeling. We’ll also collect certain routine lab tests at different times in your pregnancy. If you have any special medical conditions, we’ll talk about our plan to manage those throughout your pregnancy
Prenatal visits generally follow the schedule below, but we may adjust this timeline depending on your and your baby’s needs.
- First 28 weeks: Appointments every 4 weeks (with ultrasound around 20 weeks; see details below)
- 28 – 35 weeks: Appointments every 2 to 3 weeks
- After 35 weeks: Weekly appointments
Appointments can be scheduled for the morning or afternoon. One of our obstetricians is always assigned to the hospital and attending to patients in labor and delivery, so your appointments won’t be interrupted when another patient goes into labor.
An ultrasound will be scheduled at approximately 20 weeks after your last menstrual period. In addition to measuring growth, our experienced professionals will carefully evaluate the anatomy of your baby or babies. This is an exciting ultrasound, and you may want to have loved ones present.
Following this initial ultrasound, additional ultrasounds will be ordered only if recommended for the specifics of your pregnancy, such as to evaluate twins or smaller or greater growth than expected.
All ultrasounds are done by our own ob/gyn physicians and clinical staff.
Learn more about our ultrasound services (routine and specialized) »
Prenatal genetic screenings are an important way to check on your baby’s health during your pregnancy. Screenings test for chromosomal abnormalities including Down Syndrome, and neural tube defects like spina bifida.
Prenatal screenings are completely optional. Your care team will talk with you about your specific medical history and profile to discuss your options and help you decide what is best for you and your family. We also provide you with reading materials that explain your options so you may take time to read and discuss it away from the office.
All genetic screening and evaluation is provided by our own ob/gyn physicians and clinical staff.
Learn more about our genetic counseling services »