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When Should I Start Prenatal Care?

Congratulations on your pregnancy! You’re understandably excited and have lots of questions. You’re also probably quite eager to start your prenatal care. 

Most women start their prenatal care in the first 6-12 weeks of their pregnancy. The timing of your first visit depends a lot on your gynecological and health history and any concerns you might have.

At Capital Women’s Care, we offer comprehensive obstetrics care to protect you and your baby. When you know you’re pregnant, or think you might be, call our office to schedule your first visit.

What happens during prenatal care?

The focus of your prenatal care changes according to where you are in your pregnancy. Your prenatal care is also customized to your age, any health factors (like diabetes or high blood pressure), and concerns about the fetus.

In general, though, prenatal visits allow the staff to check your vitals — including your blood pressure and weight — listen for the baby’s heartbeat, and measure your abdominal girth.

Your first prenatal visit is usually the most extensive and includes initial blood and urine tests, a pelvic exam, Pap test, and calculation of your due date. Your provider will also want a lot of details about your health history, your family’d health history, and any questions you may have.

At minimum, you’ll undergo an ultrasound exam to confirm pregnancy at around eight weeks and another at about 20 weeks to check your baby’s development and gender.

Prenatal visits also include important screenings like blood tests to check for anemia, your blood type, HIV, and other factors. Some visits will include tests for health concerns like gestational diabetes or advanced screenings if you’re 35 or older, have multiple fetuses, or a family history of certain genetic conditions.

How often do you have prenatal visits?

In the first 28 weeks of your pregnancy, expect to come into our office about once per month for routine screenings and check-ups. As your pregnancy progresses, you’ll come in twice per month through week 36. After that, weekly visits are scheduled to monitor your pregnancy toward delivery.

Your prenatal visit schedule might look a little different depending on your particular situation. High-risk pregnancies, such as those with multiple fetuses or a mother with a pre-existing condition like lupus, may require more frequent visits.

We work with you to develop a schedule that offers you optimal care and the best possible outcome for you and baby.

What types of lifestyle recommendations are made with prenatal care?

Prenatal care isn’t just about the time you spend in the office getting examined. Our providers offer advice on optimizing your lifestyle to take care of yourself and your baby when you’re not in the office.

We recommend the best prenatal vitamin for you, ideally one that contains 400-800 mcg of folic acid to reduce the risk that your baby is born with a defect of the brain or spine. Plus, we offer guidance regarding nutrition and what to expect with weight gain as your baby grows and your pregnancy progresses.

We also help you understand the importance of regular exercise and how to modify activities to suit your particular condition or stage of pregnancy. Of course, we’ll have you stop smoking and drinking alcohol — and if you need help kicking these habits, we’re here for you.

In addition, we review any over-the-counter or prescription medications you’re taking so we can make sure they’re OK during pregnancy.

If you have any questions or concerning symptoms that arise while you’re under our care, we’re only a phone call away.

Let Capital Women’s Care be your resource during your pregnancy. Call the location in Laurel or Silver Spring, Maryland, just north of Washington, DC, when you think you might be pregnant to get started with essential prenatal care. 

Our friendly staff will help determine when it’s right for you to come in for your first appointment.

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