What to Expect: Prenatal Visits


I recently found out that I am pregnant with our third child. I am very excited. One of the most exciting things about being pregnant for me is being pregnant with other woman at the same time. Recently I was talking to another newly pregnant mama who is pregnant with her first. She was asking me some questions about what to expect for her prenatal visits. Now, we do go to the same OB/GYN practice so I know pretty much exactly what she is going to experience there. However, when I lived in Texas the visits were very similar. In that conversation, I was reminiscing with her about things that surprised me at my doctor’s visits the first and even second times around with my pregnancies. This conversation led me to compile this list of things that you might want a heads up on when it comes to your prenatal visits.

  1. You don’t get many ultrasounds. When you get pregnant, the most exciting part and reassuring, for that matter, is getting to see your new little nugget on the ultrasound screen and some pictures to take home. For a healthy pregnancy, most doctors only do an ultrasound to confirm the pregnancy, the 18-20 week anatomy scan and possibly one more. My first pregnancy I had 3. My second pregnancy I had five because they wanted to do a series of growth tracking ultrasounds late in my pregnancy due to my high BMI.
  2. Research what a transvaginal ultrasound is before you go to your first appointment. I’m not going to explain it here but let me tell you, being caught off guard by a transvaginal ultrasound is a big surprise.
  3. Most prenatal visits are quick. They will find the heartbeat, measure your belly, ask you if you have any questions, and you will be on your way. Once mine was even shorter because a nurse burst in and told the doctor that he had to go deliver a baby. I was glad he was fast to rush out. I would want the same when I was in labor.
  4. They will test you for STDs. I found this to be somewhat annoying because I have been married for several years and didn’t feel like I needed it. Add to that the fact that the STD testing costs me $270. Ouch. Some states require this by law. In some states you can ask them to waive the test. 
  5. You will most likely have an appointment where they have you talk to the billing department about your payment to the doctor. This is the fee that the doctor charges for care and delivery. Both practices that I have been offered to set up a payment plan or I could pay it all at once. They do take into consideration that you will hit your deductible when you deliver in the hospital.
  6. Along with being tested for STDs, you will have some general bloodwork done and a glucose tolerance test. The glucose tolerance test is like drinking a not frozen, Flavor-Ice popsicle. You are bascially drinking sugar. It could also be compared to those HUG barrel drinks or Squeeze-Its. It is gross. You drink it in five minutes and then you wait an hour for them to take your blood. If you pass, you are home free. If you don’t pass you have to take a 3 hour test that involves fasting. This sounds like a party, all pregnant women do awesome when it comes to not eating. Let’s just say that the fast food drive-thru worker at the nearest restaurant to the lab I used for this test will need the patience of a saint.
  7. Another thing you might want to research is how the doctor checks how dilated and effaced you are in your last trimester. They usually start checking this at 36 weeks. It can catch you off guard, much like the transvaginal ultrasound.

Keep in mind, these pointers are based off my mostly normal, routine, healthy pregnancies. Visits may be different according to your OBGYN or special circumstances considering your medical history. All of that to say, whatever your visits may be like, your medical professionals are there to guide you through pregnancy and end with a healthy mama and baby. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. My personal favorite book for pregnancy is What to Expect When You’re Expecting by Heidi Murkoff. Her other books What to Expect in the First Year and What to Expect in the Toddler Years are also very helpful.

Happy pregnancy new mamas!