Prenatal care for you and your baby

GEHA | July 18, 2019

maternity women's health
If you know you’re pregnant, or think you might be, call your doctor to schedule a visit right away.

If you know you’re pregnant, or think you might be, call your doctor to schedule a visit right away. Doing all you can to stay healthy and give your baby a strong start in life will help you have peace of mind and help prevent complications.

Pregnancy is discussed in terms of weeks and trimesters (units of three months).

            First trimester: 0-3 months, 1-17 weeks

            Second trimester: 4-6 months, 18-30 weeks

            Third trimester: 7-9 months, 31-42 weeks

Your first doctor’s visit is usually after your eighth week of pregnancy. During this visit, your doctor may talk to you about the following ways to have a healthy pregnancy:

  • Nutritional supplements, including folic acid
  • Alcohol, tobacco and drug use
  • Medications
  • Exposure to toxic substances
  • Healthy diet and weight gain
  • Caffeine intake
  • Physical activity
  • Dental checkups

If your pregnancy is healthy, your doctor visits are usually once a month before 28 weeks, every two weeks between weeks 28 and 36, and weekly from week 36 to birth.

As your pregnancy progresses, expect your doctor to check your blood pressure, measure your weight gain, measure your abdomen to check your baby’s growth, check your baby’s heart rate,  check your hands and feet for swelling, feel your abdomen to find your baby’s position, and do tests such as blood tests or ultrasound exams.

Sometimes additional tests may be necessary, such as to check for gestational diabetes and other conditions, depending on your age and family history.

In addition, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American Academy of Pediatrics recommend pregnant women receive a whooping cough vaccine between weeks 27 and 36.

GEHA offers a maternity resource packet to members that contains information about pregnancy, prenatal care and your maternity benefits. Order a complimentary packet.


Sources:
“What can I do to promote a healthy pregnancy?” www.nichd.nih.gov,  U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, National Institutes of Health, 31 January 2017.
“What is prenatal care and why is it important?” www.nichd.nih.gov, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, National Institutes of Health, 31 January 2017.
“What happens during prenatal visits?” www.nichd.nih.gov, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, National Institutes of Health, 31 January 2017.