First time mum and not sure what to expect during your pregnancy? Here’s what to expect during your visits to the obstetrician or gynaecologist.
The First Trimester: 4th – 12th week
Take it easy: During this period, you will be advised to take it easy. Unfortunately, 1 in 5 women may not proceed to the 2nd trimester. Some mothers-to-be may encounter blips in the form of bleeds or cramps. But with good medication and support, they will be able to make it to the second trimester.
Morning sickness kicks in: Expect possible aches and pulls, and you may suddenly question everything you eat, use and do. This is also the time to ask your doctor all the questions you have, and to start increasing your folic acid, iron intake, along with other vital supplements. Your doctor will be the best person to evaluate other pre-existing medical conditions and decide on the necessary medical interventions and pregnancy-safe medication choices.
Tests to undergo: A basic antenatal blood test to evaluate your basic blood levels, blood group and immunity to rubella or hepatitis. There is also a need to discuss the Non Invasive Prenatal Test (NIPT) and One-stop Clinic for Assessment of Risk for Fetal Anomalies (OSCAR) Test to assess for risks for Down Syndrome, other trisomy and rare genetic abnormalities.
The Second Trimester: 12th – 24th week
Baby’s gender: This is what I call the honeymoon period. You are blissful with the calming hormones of pregnancy. Your pregnancy has passed the first worrisome 12 weeks, and you can finally get to know the gender of your baby! The scans are clearer and you can even make out tiny baby fingers and toes.
Important Fetal Anomly Scan: There is the crucial 20 weeks fetal anomaly scan, where the sonographer looks at each and every organ closely to assess the structures of the brain, heart, spine, palates etc. It assesses the blood flow from the womb to the placenta and the placenta to the baby, to check if there are any possibly issue to blood supply that may need to be addressed. Some patients may be started on Aspirin if the growth or blood flow is not adequate.
Your Baby is Viable: Once your baby reaches 24 weeks, he or she is termed “viable”. This means your baby will be able to survive the outside world, and every possible intervention will be done should he or she decide to arrive after 24 weeks. During this trimester, you will be seeing your doctor every 4 weeks for urine tests, blood pressure and weight monitoring and scans.
The Third Trimester: 24th – 38th or 40th week
More Tests: At 28 weeks, I usually advice patients to undergo the Glucose Tolerance Test (OGTT), a test for gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM). If you are diagnosed with GDM, you will need closer supervision, insulin injections and visits to an endocrinologist. If you are Rhesus negative, you will be getting your Rhogam injections at 28 weeks and 34 weeks. Also after your delivery if your baby is Rhesus positive.
Hi Doc, it’s me again: From 32nd week onwards, you will be seeing your doctor every 2 weeks. You will get a growth scan during this time to monitor how well baby is growing. From the 35th week onwards, you will be having weekly visits to your doctor.
GBS: At 36 weeks, you will have a vaginal swab to test for Group B Streptococcus (GBS). This is a common and mild bacteria found in your vagina. If it is present at 36 weeks of your pregnancy, you will be covered with antibiotics during labour to protect your baby from chest or brain infections resulting from GBS.
Planning for your birth: This is also the time where families make a simple birth plan, about what would make their delivery special to them, such as who would be mum’s coach during labour, pain relief, music and lighting and postnatal rooming in and breastfeeding plans. These will be discussed and typed up for the big day.
From the Doc: 5 Tips For Expecting Mothers
- Take it easy
- Be aware of what to expect during your clinic visits
- Write down and ask your questions at every visit
- Trust that you and baby are in the best of care
- Be confident and know that you’re going to be just fine!
By Dr Dharshini Gopalakrishnakone
The Obstetrics & Gynaecology Centre
Mount Elizabeth Novena Specialist Centre
38 Irrawaddy Road #05-34/35 Singapore 329563
This was first published in The New Age Parents e-magazine