Prenatal Testing and Care: How to Earn an “A”

Doctor Visits, Prenatal Care and Childbirth

Pregnant black couple with their hands together on her belly forming a red heart

There’s so much to prepare for during your pregnancy and, while most of that preparation is exciting—choosing a name, decorating the nursery and indulging your strange cravings—it can be a bit nerve-wracking to think about all the medical tests and doctor visits ahead. Those routine checkups and prenatal screening tests help your healthcare provider learn how you and your baby are doing along the way. Here’s what you need to know about the kind of care you should receive to keep yourself and your baby in good health throughout your journey.

Prenatal Checkups

During your pregnancy, visiting your doctor for routine checkups is critical. This consistent care ensures that you and your baby will remain healthy throughout the next nine months. Regular checkups also mean that in the event of any complications, your physician should be able to identify them before they become serious and immediately address them. Your routine visits should follow this timeline—although if yours is a high-risk pregnancy, you should be seen more often.

  • Once a month for weeks 4 through 28
  • Twice a month for weeks 28 through 36
  • Weekly for weeks 36 to birth

Your first checkup will most likely be the longest, because this is where you’re laying the foundation for the rest of your pregnancy journey. Your physician will perform a full physical exam, which will include a blood draw for lab tests, a breast exam, a pelvic exam to check your uterus, and a cervical exam that includes a Pap smear. You should also be prepared to answer a lot of questions about your health habits, lifestyle, and daily routines to ensure that you’re making healthy choices.

After the first visit, most prenatal visits will consist of your doctor checking your blood pressure and weight, analyzing the baby’s heart rate, and measuring your abdomen to examine the baby’s growth.

Prenatal Tests: Which Do I Need and Why Are They Important?

Prenatal testing covers a variety of tests that your doctor may recommend or that you may choose to have during pregnancy. Prenatal tests are either screening tests or diagnostic tests.

Screening Tests

These tests are meant to help determine whether your baby is likely to have specific health conditions or genetic and chromosomal abnormalities, such as Down syndrome, cystic fibrosis, sickle cell anemia, or a heart defect. They’re a good indicator of any possible risks, but they don’t give a definitive answer about whether your baby has a concerning condition. However, screening tests are safe for both you and the baby, with no risks or side effects. Depending on the results of your screening tests, you may be asked to pursue further testing that may be required for the health of you and your baby.

Diagnostic Tests

If your screening tests yield positive results, further diagnostic tests will be used to confirm those results. If you decide to continue with diagnostic testing, you’ll learn more about your baby’s condition and how to provide the best care after the birth. It’s important to know, however, that some of these tests are more invasive and may carry risks for your baby, such as a possible miscarriage.

If certain health conditions are common in your family, it may be in your best interest to speak with a genetic counselor, which your doctor may recommend based on the medical history you provide. These trained professionals can help you understand how birth defects and other medical conditions affect the health of you and your baby so that you can be prepared for any outcome.

A Birth Injury Law Firm Can Help You Uncover the Truth

If you’re concerned the prenatal medical care you received from your OBGYN or other practitioner may have caused your child’s cerebral palsy, you deserve answers.

Contact the Cerebral Palsy Family Lawyers at Janet, Janet & Suggs, LLC today for a free, no-obligation consultation to learn more about your rights and legal options when medical malpractice may have caused your child’s CP.

Was Your Child's CP Preventable?