After pregnancy is confirmed, the woman should have a physical examination, preferably between 6 and 8 weeks of pregnancy. At this time, the length of the pregnancy can be estimated and the date of delivery can be predicted as accurately as possible. Doctors ask about disorders the woman has and has had, drugs she taken, and details about previous pregnancies, including problems that occurred such as diabetes, miscarriages, and birth defects.
The first physical examination during pregnancy is very thorough. It includes the following:
- Measurement of weight, height, and blood pressure
- Examination of the ankles for swelling
- Pelvic examination: During this examination, the doctor notes the size and position of the uterus.
- Blood tests: A sample of blood is taken and analyzed. Analysis includes a complete blood cell count, tests for infectious diseases (such as syphilis, hepatitis, and human immunodeficiency virus [HIV]), and tests for evidence of immunity to rubella and chickenpox (varicella). Blood type, including Rh factor status (positive or negative), is determined.
- Urine tests: A sample of urine is taken, cultured, and analyzed.
- Papanicolaou (Pap) test or a variation of it: Samples of tissue from the cervix are taken to check for cancer of the cervix.
- Test for sexually transmitted diseases: Immediately after the Pap test, another sample of tissue from the cervix is taken to test for sexually transmitted diseases, such as gonorrhea and chlamydial infection.
After the first examination, a pregnant woman should see her doctor as follows:
- Every 4 weeks until 28 weeks of pregnancy
- Then every 2 weeks until 36 weeks
- Then once a week until delivery