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Prenatal Care Basics

One of the first things you’ll want to do is find a provider to care for you during your pregnancy. Think about what you’d like your birthing experience to be like to guide you in your decision making process. Want all the bells and whistles of a hospital birth? Dream of having a doula or nurse-midwife by your side? At SSM Health, we offer a wide range of providers to meet your specific needs.

The sooner you can see your doctor the better. Early and routine prenatal care is vital to you and your baby’s health. With prenatal care, you can monitor your baby’s progress, and receive the compassionate, individualized care SSM Health is known for.

Your First Appointment

During your first visit, we’ll review your medical history and perform a physical exam to understand your overall health and any risk factors that might affect your pregnancy.

We’ll also:

  • Determine your baby’s due date
  • Schedule follow-up appointments

We typically perform a pelvic exam as well to determine the size of your uterus and pelvis. If you’re past week 10 to 12 of your pregnancy, we’ll also listen for your baby’s heartbeat using a doppler, an ultrasound-powered instrument.

Lab Tests & Screenings

Your doctor will order several lab tests during the early stages of your pregnancy. These tests screen for certain risks, including high blood pressure, diabetes, anemia, sexually transmitted diseases, Hepatitis B, bladder infection, HIV, cystic fibrosis, and sickle cell. We also screen for chromosomal abnormalities, including prenatal cell-free DNA screening.

The result of these tests will determine how often you need to see your doctor.

Recommended Check-Ups

Typically, we recommend you have a check-up visit:

  • Once a month for the first seven months of your pregnancy
  • Every two to three weeks after 28 weeks of pregnancy
  • Every week starting at 36 weeks

In the last month of your pregnancy, your doctor will focus on your labor and delivery, and examine your cervix (the opening of your uterus) for any significant changes.

General Pregnancy Do’s & Don’ts

Every woman and her pregnancy is different, but there are some general pregnancy DO’s and DON’Ts you should follow to have the healthiest birthing experience. Always talk with your doctor to be sure about what you should or shouldn't be doing while carrying your baby.


  • Rest as much as you can and take short naps with your feet up if possible
  • Continue your normal exercise program as long as it is comfortable
  • Continue to practice safe sex during your pregnancy
  • Dress comfortably in loose fitting clothing
  • Take a vitamin once a day; we prescribe a prenatal vitamin that has everything you and your baby need


  • Take over-the-counter medications that contain aspirin, ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil) or Naprosyn (Aleve)
  • Start new strenuous exercises during your pregnancy
  • Drink diet sodas; Splenda and Truvia are the safest artificial sweeteners, if necessary

At SSM Health, we appreciate the opportunity to provide you and your baby the best care possible. Find your nearest maternity experts and schedule an appointment to see the SSM Health difference.

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