Third Trimester Prenatal Visit
What To Expect And Frequency Of Appointments

Trimesters

second and third trimester prenatal visits

Second And Third Trimester Prenatal Visit

Contents

What Can I Expect In My Second Trimester Visit?
Additional Diagnostic Tests
What Can I Expect In My Third Trimester Visit?
Additional Diagnostic Tests
Labor & Delivery Protocol


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Prenatal Care Information

What Can I Expect In My Second Trimester Visit?

Unless your pregnancy falls within a high-risk category of possibly developing pregnancy complications, your visits to the OB/GYN or healthcare professional will happen about once a month throughout the second trimester. The routine checks for these visits are likely to include the following:

Urine Checks: Your urine will continued be checked for sugar (to check for symptoms of diabetes), protein and urinary tract infections.
Blood Pressure: Checked for signs of preeclampsia or rising blood pressure which may stunt the baby's growth if not treated.
Weight: Checked to see if mom is gaining weight at the correct rate.
Uterus: Size of uterus checked by external palpation (feeling from the outside) to monitor if it correlates to due date.
Fundus: Height of the fundus, the top of the uterus, measured.
Swelling: Hands and feet checked for swelling & varicose veins in pregnancy.

Fetal Heartbeat: After about week 12 many doctors test the baby's heartbeat using a sonic aid, an instrument that works like an ultrasound. If you are concerned about the safety of pregnancy ultrasounds, you can choose not to have this test.
Abdomen: The abdomen is measured to check the growth of the baby.
Ultrasound: Most women opt for an ultrasound scan at 18 to 22 weeks. This is a level 2, or targeted scan which is much more detailed than the scan you may have received in your first trimester of pregnancy. It is also a lot more fun to look at because it gives a far clearer picture of your baby. Some centers even offer ultrasound scan photos and video images.

Additional Diagnostic Tests

Women over 35 or those with worrying results from a routine blood test may be offered diagnostic tests such as an amniocentesis test between weeks 14 to 18. Fluid from the wall of womb is drawn to check for Down syndrome and spina bifida. The test carries a 0.5-1 percent risk of miscarriage. Alternatively a chronic villus sampling test (CVS), where a sample is taken from the placenta via the vagina or abdomen can detect genetic disorders such as Down syndrome and carries a 1-4 percent risk of miscarriage.

Always keep a list of questions ready to ask your doctor, even if they seem unimportant or trivial.

What Can I Expect In My Third Trimester Visit?

You are in the last two thirds of your pregnancy and it is the final countdown to delivery day. Between weeks 28 to 36, the frequency of your prenatal visits usually become scheduled once a month, and weekly after this until birth. All of the usual tests continue to apply:

Weight: Towards the end of pregnancy, weight gain tends to slow down or stop. See, how much weight should I gain during pregnancy?
Blood Pressure: Monitored to check for preeclampsia. It may be slightly higher than it was mid-pregnancy.
Urine: Sugar, protein and infections monitored.
Swelling: Unusual or sudden swelling can be an indication of preeclampsia.
Fetal Heartbeat: Continually monitored.
Fundas Height: Also measured.
Fetal Size: You may get a rough estimate of the weight your baby will be when he/she is born.
Fetal Position: Near the end of your pregnancy, your OB/GYN can check presentation (if the baby is head or buttocks first), position (front or rear facing) and descent (if the baby's head in the lower abdomen or at the top of the birth canal). This test is usually carried out by palpation (feeling with the hands).
Cervix Check: As your body prepares for labor, your cervix softens, opens (dilates) and thins (efface). Progress is usually measured in centimeters and percentages. So for example, you cervix may be 3 cm’s dilated and 30 percent effaced. When you are ready to give birth your cervix will be 10 cm dilated and 100 percent effaced. That said – it is not uncommon to go into labor with no dilation or effacement, so it is not an exact science. See also: early signs of labor.

Additional Diagnostic Tests

Group B Streptococcus (GBS): Many women are tested for GBS during the third trimester of pregnancy. Group B Streptococcus is a common bacterium which is usually harmless in adults. However, babies who become infected with it can become seriously ill. If tests prove positive you will be given intravenous antibiotics during labor to protect your baby from the bacterium.

Labor & Delivery Protocol

Towards the end of your third trimester, your OB/GYN or healthcare provider should provide you with a labor and delivery protocol sheet. This explains when and who to call if you think you are going into labor and when to go to the hospital or birthing center. It may also include a list of what to take with you. If you do not receive this, be sure to ask for it. This is also the time to read a guide to childbirth, if you have not done so already.

Ultrasounds

Third trimester ultrasound scan: What is shows and why its done.

  Related Articles

For more about the final stages of pregnancy, see the following:

Birthing Centers - For a more natural birth, including waterbirth options.
Back Pain While Pregnant - Common to many women in the final weeks as their
due date approaches.
Natural Labor Induction Methods - Talk to your midwife about alternative options including acupuncture and acupressure.

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