Unless you're under the care of a midwife who visits you at home, conception begins a long series of visits to the obstetrician's office, with the type and frequency of visits as varied as the doctors who attend deliveries. The entire prenatal experience is punctuated by a doctor's care plan that has developed over the years and is then fine-tuned to the unique presentation of your pregnancy.
There are two types of prenatal populations:
- Those pregnancies where everything is perfect and
- Everyone else!
The perfect pregnancy doesn't truly exist, but there are the normal and the high-risk—the most generalized divisions of surveillance for an obstetrician watching a pregnancy. Ironically, the "perfect" pregnancy patient gets booted out of the Perfect Pregnancy Club for even the slightest physiologic indiscretion. High blood pressure, spilling protein in the urine, fetal growth abnormalities, an abnormal ultrasound—any number of things will justify moving you from the normal to the high-risk. Of course, that's what obstetrics is all about: knowing which patients need extra care.
In a normal pregnancy, you can expect your obstetrician to see you every three or four weeks at first, then increase the frequency of visits as your pregnancy advances, until you begin weekly visits in the last month.