Heartbeats And Measurements, Oh My!

Many of us avoid the doctor if we can help it -- after all, it's a germ-infested place we only visit when we're sick, right? How is it then, that when we're pregnant, it becomes something to look forward to?

Pregnant woman with doctor

I like doctors OK. They try to help me feel better if I'm ailing, which is a good thing. I do dislike visiting the doctor, however. I don't want to pick up a new plague while I'm there, and the visit can be uncomfortable, particularly if there is a throat swab involved.

However -- prenatal visits are a whole different story.

When you become pregnant, you get assigned a due date and can mark off each day as it passes, bringing you closer to holding your baby. Each week, there is rapid development in your baby and -- soon enough -- in you, as your belly swells and you begin to feel your little one gently kick (and eventually, push and shove).

Prenatal visits galore

Generally, you'll be scheduled for one or two visits during your first trimester. Around weeks eight to 12, they will attempt to listen for a fetal heartbeat, and you also may have a sonogram squeezed in at some point to help with confirmation or dating purposes. After the first trimester passes, in all, it's uncomfortable glory. You will visit the doctor every four weeks or so, and as your due date approaches, the rate increases to once every week or two until the baby is born.

Each visit generally includes a urine sample, which is annoying in the beginning and comically impossible when you have a giant watermelon attached to your front. Then follows a weight check, which can be fun if you're not gaining much ("Oh, yay! I gained two pounds this month! Tee hee!") but can be distressing if the pounds are sneaking up on you at a rapid pace.

The fun parts

For me, the fun part was always listening to the baby's heartbeat. I know you can rent dopplers for at-home use, but I never did -- and I do hesitate to recommend it anyway, as the effects on the baby aren't known. I also enjoyed the fundal height measurement -- checking to see just how big that uterus really is.

And just chatting with your care provider can be nice, too. Getting your questions answered, finding out more about your childbirth options and feeling more at ease with the whole process can be pleasant.

But going to the doctor for something other than an illness, where you get to hear your baby's heartbeat and find out how much your pregnancy is progressing -- it's like gold!

More on prenatal appointments

Week 10 - First prenatal appointment!
Ace your prenatal appointments
Prenatal appointment timeline

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