One of the first things you should do if you’ve recently discovered you’re pregnant – or if you think you’re pregnant – is to call your doctor or health care provider as soon as possible.
Health care providers – whether it’s a family physician, obstetrician or midwife –can help make sure you’re in the best position possible for a healthy pregnancy.
You’ll be seeing this provider a lot over the next nine months for regular checkups. If you’re looking for a provider, make sure that you’re comfortable with them, that they are located close to you, that they offer hours that fit your schedule and are covered by your health plan. If there’s a hospital where you know you want to deliver your baby, make sure that your provider has admitting privileges there.
Regular checkups are important during pregnancy to ensure the baby is growing on schedule, and that any issues with the mother’s health are swiftly addressed and managed. Here is the general schedule of appointments:
- From your first prenatal visit until week 28: one appointment per month
- From week 28 to week 36: two appointments per month
- From week 36 to 40: one appointment each week
- Weeks 40+: one to two appointments each week
During each checkup, you can expect providers to check:
- Your weight and blood pressure
- Baby’s heartbeat
- Measure your belly to check on baby’s growth
- Ask you about baby’s movement, which you may begin to feel around 20 weeks
- Check your cervix in a pelvic exam as you get close to your due date
During a pregnancy, some appointments include additional screening tests and scans to track the health of mom and baby. Here are some key appointments to know:
Schedule your first prenatal appointment as soon as you suspect you’re pregnant. At the doctor’s office, be prepared for a comprehensive exam and discussion about your personal health history, lifestyle and any medications you may be on. They will also ask about any health conditions that run in the family. They’ll confirm your pregnancy through a urine sample and a blood test and may do other tests as well to screen for other potential issues.
Providers will ask about the date of your last period to help calculate your due date; and they may perform an ultrasound to provide a more accurate gestational age.
This ultrasound typically occurs at 18 to 20 weeks. The purpose is to scan the anatomy of the baby to check on its physical development and screen for potential disorders or major abnormalities. The ultrasound technician will also check the baby’s heart rate, the blood flow through the umbilical cord, the amount of amniotic fluid and the placenta. You can also learn the baby’s sex at this appointment if you want to.
Gestational diabetes screening
Between 24 and 28 weeks of pregnancy, you will likely have a screening test for gestational diabetes. If you’re at a higher risk for diabetes, your provider may test you earlier in your pregnancy.
The initial test is a glucose screening test in which you drink a syrupy solution, wait an hour, and then have your blood drawn. Your blood is tested to measure your blood sugar level. Your provider will make a recommendation based on the result. If your blood sugar level is higher than expected, you’ll be asked to do an additional glucose screening test.
Group B strep check
Between 36 and 38 weeks of pregnancy, you will be screened for Group B streptococcus. This is a bacteria that lives in the body and is often found in the vagina and rectum – which means it could potentially pass to the baby during labor. If you test positive for Group B strep, you will likely receive antibiotics during labor to prevent the newborn from getting sick.
If you are a Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan or Blue Care Network member, you can find an in-network provider through your member account at bcbsm.com or on the Blue Cross mobile app.
More from MIBluesPerspectives:
- Understanding Preeclampsia
- Health Insurance Coverage for Pregnant and Postpartum Individuals
- How to Get a Breast Pump Through Your Insurance Coverage
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