What to Expect at Your Doctor Appointments

Having a prenatal appointment with your OB can be a good experience, but come ready to ask your doctor to stay and answer all of your questions. Often doctors schedule only minutes to see each expectant mom, so you'll want to emphasize how important it is to get clear, complete information at your visits.

Most visits to the doctor (any doctor) start with a wait. So bring a book!

Some doctors have two waiting rooms. You sit in the first right after you check in. Then a nurse calls you to the back and weighs you. She gives you a cup which you take to the bathroom and pee in. Usually there's a little door in the wall for you to put the cup in. Some offices have you sit in a second waiting room after this, and some have you go to an examination room.

Most offices try to have a shorter wait for you. You're less likely to encounter a long wait if your provider has a smaller practice or a solo practice.

Your blood pressure may be taken at a nurse's station or in your room. You may also have your finger pricked for an iron test. The nurse asks you if you have any questions or concerns. Share with her or wait for the doctor, your choice.

The urine, weight, and blood pressure checks are standard at any prenatal appointment, doctor or midwife.

Seeing your doctor

Your doctor comes in for your physical exam. He'll (or she'll) probably measure your belly and listen to the baby's heartbeat – most likely with a Doppler. You can hear your baby's heartbeat around 10-12 weeks with a Doppler (18-20 weeks with a fetascope) and measuring your belly begins around 20 weeks.

Some doctors palpate your abdomen and some don't. He does this to assess the baby's position in the womb. This isn't done until your baby is bigger – usually around the start of your third trimester.

Your doctor asks if you have any questions. Have your questions and comments written down beforehand and don't hesitate to ask.

Busy doctors usually don't stay more than a few minutes with each patient. Some have a separate time to talk in their office. And some may be willing to sit and chat for quite awhile. Remember that you've hired your doctor and you have the right to have your questions answered!

Unfortunately it really seems that the longest part of most visits to the obstetrician is the time you'll spend in the waiting room. If you see your family doctor, or a specialized doctor such as a perinatologist (Maternal-Fetal Medicine Specialist), you may get more time with him.

Have your questions and concerns listed beforehand and make sure that you get good answers to all of them. If you have a doctor who likes to spend five minutes with each patient, a thorough list can help you get the most out of each visit.

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