Congratulations! You’ve been dreaming of becoming a mom for so long—and at last you have a positive pregnancy test. What happens now? Before you run out to shop for maternity clothes or start decorating the nursery, there is one very important thing you should do first. Call your OB/GYN.
Written by Ann Metz on behalf of Tennova
Your doctor can answer all of your questions about tests and symptoms. She (or he) can also identify potential signs of trouble—so regular prenatal visits are a must. To answer some of the most common questions about prenatal care, I reached out to Dana Teagarden, D.O., an obstetrician and gynecologist with Tennova Healthcare. Dr. Teagarden delivers babies at Turkey Creek Medical Center in Knoxville. She’s also the mom of triplets!
KNOXVILLE MOM: How many prenatal visits will I have?
TEAGARDEN: Most pregnant women will see their doctor between 10 and 15 times. In general, you’ll visit your doctor monthly during the first and second trimesters, then every other week until about 36 weeks, and then every week until the birth of your baby. The number of appointments you’ll have depends on your medical history and whether you develop any complications, which might require more frequent visits.
It’s very important to call your doctor for an appointment as soon as you learn you’re pregnant. The best time to “date” a pregnancy with ultrasound is between six and eight weeks gestation.
KNOXVILLE MOM: Is there anything I can do to prepare for my first appointment?
TEAGARDEN: Bring a list of all of your medications and dosages, including any herbal supplements or over-the-counter drugs. We’ll review your medications and advise you what is safe for your growing baby. We may recommend that you stop taking certain medications, such as antidepressants, especially during the first trimester.
We’ll also ask about your medical history as well as the medical history of the baby’s father. Be sure to talk with family members to find out if anything runs in the family that might impact your pregnancy or the health of your baby. For example, is there a family history for a congenital birth defect? Also, be sure to know the first day of your last period.
KNOXVILLE MOM: What happens during prenatal appointments?
TEAGARDEN: At every appointment, we’ll check your weight, blood pressure and urine. We’ll also measure your abdomen and listen to the baby’s heartbeat. And we’ll perform other tests, as appropriate, depending on the stage of your pregnancy and any special concerns. The goal is to closely monitor any conditions or complications that develop—and intervene quickly.
Starting in the second trimester, a lot of education will take place. We’ll provide information on topics ranging from childbirth options to circumcision to breastfeeding.
Before you leave your appointments, we’ll review the findings with you, talk about what to expect during the coming weeks, and advise you about optional tests you might consider, such as amniocentesis.
KNOXVILLE MOM: What if I’ve been told I’m high risk?
TEAGARDEN: That’s a great question. Many pregnant women are worried because they have a thyroid disorder or some other pre-existing condition that, in the past, would have put them in a high-risk category. Today, OB/GYNs can care for women with a wide range of concerns, including prediabetes or advancing age. It’s important to talk with your doctor to determine your level of risk and to find out if any tests might be appropriate.
KNOXVILLE MOM: How can I make the most of my prenatal visits?
TEAGARDEN: The best advice I can give you is to come to all of your appointments. And don’t be disappointed to find out that you’re in and out of the office quickly. With the exception of your first visit, most prenatal visits will be brief—maybe 15 minutes—but that doesn’t mean they’re not important. We can spot many things with a simple urine test, including infections, gestational diabetes or preeclampsia. All of these conditions are treatable, but can be dangerous if not identified early.
Also, keep a running list of questions on your phone or a notepad you keep in your purse or car. It’s amazing the number of times a couple will tell me they had a question, but they both forgot it. And don’t be too embarrassed to ask any questions. We’re here to provide you with the facts you need to improve your chances for a happy, healthy pregnancy and birth.
Need an OB/GYN? For a physician referral or to learn more about childbirth services at Tennova Healthcare, call 1-855-TENNOVA (836-6682) or visit Tennova.com.