The Third Trimester of Pregnancy: An Overview
Prenatal Care Checklist
You’ve been having regular visits to the obstetrician since you became pregnant. Now that your baby’s birth is getting closer, so is the frequency of those visits and what takes place in the doctor’s office.
Here’s a checklist of what to expect in the last weeks of your pregnancy.
- Your provider will pay attention to signs of preterm labor and institute monitoring if indicated.
- Between 24 and 30 weeks, office visits are every two to three weeks.
- At around 26 weeks, you’ll have a glucola screen for gestational diabetes.
- At around 28 weeks, you’ll have a group B strep vaginal culture taken.
- At 32 weeks, your doctor will determine fetal position—the “lie.” This is the time a baby usually “locks into” position. Suspicion of a breech baby at this time is a concern and warrants an ultrasound.
- At 36 weeks you’ll begin weekly visits or even more frequent visits if you have a high-risk pregnancy.
- Your doctor may offer version of an abnormal position (breech) to normal position (vertex—head first).
- At 37 or 38 weeks, your doctor may begin weekly cervical checks.
- At 39 weeks, your doctor can now offer you an induction if the cervix is ripe.
- At 40 weeks, your doctor will begin “post-dates” surveillance, which means more frequent visits.
- At 42 weeks, you most probably will be induced. (Although doctors differ somewhat as to what point indicates mandatory delivery, 42 weeks seems to be a dividing line where further waiting creates unacceptable risks.)
In the Delivery Room
When asked to cut the umbilical cord at the birth of his child, some dads experience panic. Actually, cutting the cord is not really a big deal, medically, at least. The point is that there are many things in modern labor and delivery that aren’t medically important, like who cuts the cord, whether areas are shaved, or who’s in the room.
In many hospitals, video and photography are welcome, as are friends and other relatives. In the background, masked by all of the good cheer and warmth, is the real reason for having babies in a hospital—anesthesia if and when needed, a blood bank and surgery suite should complications arise, and a high-risk nursery for babies in jeopardy.
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