Prenatal Care Questions

What is the schedule for routine prenatal appointments?

  • First maternity visit with physician — 6-10 weeks or at time of initial call for appt.
  • Monthly visits — Up to 28 weeks
  • Bimonthly visits — 28-36 weeks
  • Weekly visits — 36 weeks until delivery

These may differ depending on maternal and fetal complications.

What happens during prenatal appointments?

The goal of prenatal visits is to check on your health and provide you with information to help keep you and your baby healthy. Your doctor will:

  • Check your weight, blood pressure, and urine
  • Measure your abdomen and check the position of your baby
  • Listen to your baby’s heartbeat
  • Perform other exams and order tests, as appropriate
  • Monitor any complications and intervene if necessary
  • Provide education regarding topics that are relevant to each stage of pregnancy

During your pregnancy you will be assigned to a specific physician that you will see for your initial obstetrical visit. This is who you will be assigned to for the duration of the pregnancy. You will have frequent visits with your doctor along with our specialized OB nurses and nurse practitioners.

What is an OB Nurse?

A unique feature of our practice is our “OB Nurses”. These registered nurses are highly trained and qualified in managing pregnancy. You may see one of our nurses in between your visits with your doctor. Your nurse and doctor work closely together to provide you with the best care during your pregnancy. What are the routine tests done in pregnancy?

  • First visit — Pap smear, cervical cultures, and routine prenatal panel blood work
  • 18-20 weeks — Routine obstetrical ultrasound
  • 26-28 weeks — Blood work (diabetes screening, blood count, antibody screen-if Rh neg)
  • 35-36 weeks — Group beta strep culture
  • 36-40 weeks — Weekly cervical checks

What are the optional tests offered?

Some testing is optional and may be suggested based on many factors such as your overall health, age, previous pregnancy experiences, and family health history.

  • 10w3d-13w6d
  • Ultra-Screen
  • Free cell DNA-optional screening for Downs, Trisomy 18,13
  • 10-12 weeks — Chorionic Villous Sampling
  • 15-22 weeks — Amniocentesis
  • 15-20 weeks — Alpha-fetoprotein or AFP
  • 15-20 weeks — Quad Screen
  • Anytime — Cystic Fibrosis

As you can see that many of these tests have strict time frames in which they must be performed. Please be aware that it is your responsibility to schedule and perform these tests at the correct time. We will provide you with information to help you make informed decisions regarding these choices. See Fetal Testing section for further information on these optional tests. Not all insurance plans pay for optional testing. Please check your insurance coverage by calling your health plan.

How many ultrasounds can I have?

Most health plans will cover only one ultrasound per pregnancy. If medically necessary, your provider will order and assist with authorizing additional ultrasounds. You may schedule an elective 3-D or 4-D ultrasound with our sonographers, if desired, as an out-of-pocket expense.

How long does a pregnancy last?

Pregnancy is timed from the first day of your last period and is represented by weeks from that point onwards. Your estimated due date is at the 40 week mark, but “term pregnancy” is from 37 to 41 weeks and this is when the majority of women deliver.

Pregnancy is divided up into trimesters:

  • First trimester goes until 12 weeks
  • Second trimester goes from 13 to 27 weeks
  • Third trimester goes from 28 weeks until 42 weeks

What prenatal classes should I consider taking?

Parents-to-be, especially first timers, are encouraged to take advantage of the prenatal classes offered at Banner Thunderbird and Estrella Medical Centers. Please call 602-230-CARE or log onto www.bannerhealth.com for further information. Consider signing up for these classes during the middle of your second trimester and try to have them completed by mid third trimester.

Desert West hosts Pregnancy 101, Newborn Care and Infant CPR classes run by experienced registered nurses from Premier Baby Planners.

Pregnancy 101 — This class provides helpful guidance to promote a healthy pregnancy for mom and baby. Everything you need to know is included in this class which costs $40 for one expectant mother and a support person of her choice. The ideal time to sign up is after your first obstetrics appointment at the 12 to 20-week mark of your pregnancy.

Newborn Care Class — is designed to teach you how to meet all of your baby’s needs in the first few weeks and includes hands-on practice with helpful tools and techniques. You and your partner will leave with confidence in holding, feeding, burping, bathing, swaddling, comforting, and providing basic hygiene for your baby. A $50 fee for this 3-hour class covers mom and one support person.

Infant CPR Class — This is an important skill for anyone who is around newborns including parents, grandparents and caregivers. When you see a baby choking, not breathing, or turning blue, you have only seconds to react. Knowing infant CPR will help empower you to take appropriate action if you are ever faced with this type of emergency situation.

Register for classes

What problems during pregnancy should I report to my caregiver?

Any vaginal bleeding should be reported, although spotting at various times is fairly common. Cramping, intermittent low backache or low abdominal pressure, or a gush of fluid from your vagina should be reported as well as signs of infection such as fever, vomiting, or burning with urination.

Complications of pregnancy can also begin with severe headache, visual disturbances, sudden weight gain, or abdominal pain. You should be feeling fetal movements by 22 weeks; report any sudden decreases in your baby’s movements or activity level. Early detection and treatment of problems will help both you and your baby to continue a safe pregnancy.

What are some of the possible symptoms of labor?

Labor at full-term

is characterized by rhythmic menstrual-like cramps or contractions that gradually become stronger and closer together. Contractions are usually strong enough to interrupt your ability to walk or talk. Sometimes this process can occur more quickly, especially if you have had a baby before. Most women go to the hospital when the contractions are every five minutes or more often, but if the pain is getting unbearable or if you have had a baby before, you may want to head to the hospital earlier.

Premature labor

(prior to full-term) can be completely painless and might only feel like a rhythmic tightening of the uterus or mild pressure and should be reported to the office immediately.

Sometimes the first event marking the onset of labor is leakage of the bag of water and this may occur without any contractions. If you think your bag of water is broken and leaking, please proceed directly to the hospital.

Be sure to call if you experience any bleeding as this could be a sign of a problem. Do not confuse a jelly-like colored discharge with bleeding as this may be the “mucous plug” or “bloody show”.

Some women in labor do not have these classic signs, as there is great variability in the labor process. Always call if you have concerns or questions.

When and how do I register for the hospital?

To register for the hospital, you can complete the pre-admission paperwork (that was given to you at your first prenatal visit) and mail it or go online to www.bannerhealth.com and enter keyword “Patient Registration”. Consider registering for the hospital in mid to late second trimester – you will find it more convenient to be pre-registered by the time you need to go the hospital for a pregnancy concern or for your delivery.

Who will deliver my baby?

We have a doctor that stays in the hospital around the clock every day of the year! This is an additional benefit unique to our practice that allows Desert West to provide the safest environment for you and your baby if you should have an emergency. The doctor that you see in the office may be in the hospital the day you deliver. If not, one of our other fine doctors will be there to take excellent care of you.

We have both female and male physicians in our practice that may deliver your baby. All of our physicians are certified or qualified by the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology. They are committed to providing excellent care to you and your baby.

How and when do I try to choose a doctor for my baby?

You may choose a pediatrician or family doctor to look after your newborn. If your baby’s doctor does not have privileges at the hospital you are going to deliver at, then your baby will be looked after by one of the on-call pediatricians while in the hospital.

Ideally, you should identify who your baby’s doctor is going to be before you deliver. If necessary, start looking around by mid second trimester. You can ask friends, family, and/or your obstetrician for suggestions on local baby doctors. Confirm with your pediatrician or family doctor that they are accepting new babies and your insurance to ensure that they are able to look after your baby.

What should I pack for the hospital when I have my baby?

For Yourself:

  • Bathrobe, nightgown, slippers, and a couple of pairs of socks
  • Nursing bra, breast pads, and maternity underwear
  • Toiletries: Toothbrush, toothpaste, hairbrush/comb, lip balm, deodorant, face cream,body lotion, cosmetics, hair bands/scrunchies, contact lens supplies, etc.
  • Reading materials and eyeglasses
  • Address book and prepaid phone card or cell phone
  • Camera and extra film, memory cards and batteries
  • Going-home outfit. Bring something roomy and easy to get into — perhaps an outfit you wore at or near the end of pregnancy.

For Your Partner / Labor Coach:

  • Basic toiletries, such as a toothbrush, toothpaste, shampoo, deodorant
  • Change of clothes
  • Some snacks
  • Something to read

For Your Baby:

  • Infant car seat
  • One to three outfits (baby’s first picture, going-home outfit, etc.)
  • One to two blankets
  • Pair of socks or booties

Don’t forget…infant car seats are required by law. Please be prepared to transport your newborn home from the hospital in a safety device.