Prenatal Doctor Visits Your Partner Shouldn’t Miss
In an ideal world, your partner would attend every prenatal visit. But this isn't always possible. When work, school or other commitments limit time off, it helps to know which doctor visits not to miss.
Prenatal care can start as soon as you know you’re pregnant. Typically, you will have monthly doctor visits until week 28 of your pregnancy. After this point, visits increase to once every three weeks until week 36, when check-in appointments become weekly until the baby is born. For a normal pregnancy, this can mean a total of between 10 and 12 visits. For high-risk pregnancies, that number can rise to 14 visits or more.
Here are the doctor visits your partner won’t want to miss:
The First Visit
This is the most important, for several reasons. During this initial consultation, your doctor records both the maternal and paternal history. The doctor will ask if you have a history of:
These could possibly lead to a high-risk pregnancy.
The doctor will also screen for family histories on both sides of:
- Congenital heart disease
- Cystic fibrosis
- Sickle cell disease or traits
If the family of you and your partner both have a history of sickle cell disease, you may need further screening. Sickle cell and Cystic fibrosis screening is standard for all moms.
10 - 11 Weeks
When you are 10 or 11 weeks pregnant, the doctor will attempt to listen to the heartbeat. This is the first visit where the heartbeat would be detected by dopplers. Hearing this confirmation of life is often a memorable and moving experience for both parents.
20 - 22 Weeks
An ultrasound conducted at the 20-week mark, or, in the case of significantly overweight patients, the 22-week mark, will reveal the baby’s gender. This can be an exciting appointment for both partners when you see your baby for the first time.
Last Month of Pregnancy
Starting at 36 weeks, you will see your doctor once a week. These appointments are often exciting because you are on the brink of delivery. A visit during this time may include measuring for dilation of the cervix. Throughout the pregnancy, the cervix is decreasing in length and softening, and its measurement may correlate to the likelihood of a preterm birth before 37 weeks. After 37 weeks, it helps your doctor evaluate for signs of approaching labor.
Both indicators help determine how imminent birth is. It is helpful for both partners or any other supportive loved ones to be present.
to help pick a time.
How Your Partner Can Help
Pregnancy is a time of a lot of change in your body, not only physically but emotionally as hormones affect you differently in each trimester. For example, in the first trimester, rising levels of progesterone can cause increased irritability and mood swings.
The more your partner can learn about the changes to your body, the more likely they can offer support and understanding. Partners can help by:
- Before your doctor visit, writing down any questions you both have so that you remember to ask the doctor about what has been on your mind. (Taking notes in your smartphone is a good place to keep track).
- During the visit, taking notes on what the doctor says so that you both remember later.
- If weight gain is an issue, your partner can hear the suggestions and reinforce healthy practices.
- Talking with the doctor to understand how much exercise is appropriate. Too often, partners think that you need to be sedentary when you’re pregnant. But it is often healthier to walk and get light exercise.
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