In this side view of a fetus, the right ear and eye are just visible and the right hand and leg can be seen in characteristically bent positions. The reddish, tubelike structure, to the right of the image, is the umbilical cord.
You should have your first prenatal appointment around now. The exact timing of it will vary depending on when your doctor sees pregnant patients for the first time. This is the first time you will see your ob/gyn during pregnancy. Unless your doctor has a solo practice (see Going solo), your prenatal team is likely to consist of several doctors who will take care of you throughout your pregnancy.
The purpose of this appointment is for a doctor to obtain your medical history, provide information, and plan your care for pregnancy and the birth. It's also an opportunity for you to ask any questions you may have and discuss the schedule for appointments, blood tests, scans, and prenatal classes. You will be given booklets, information leaflets, and important contact telephone numbers. The doctor will ask you about your medical history; your family's medical history; your partner and your partner's family's medical history; about any previous pregnancies you have had; and how this pregnancy has been so far.
Your answers will help the doctor identify factors that may affect your pregnancy, for example if there is a family history of preeclampsia. The doctor will also do some health tests, such as urine tests, at this and other prenatal appointments.
Midwife comes from the anglo-saxon word "mit wif," meaning "with woman."
A midwife's role is to respect the ability of a woman to give birth independently, and to only intervene when it is essential to do so.
Your doctor will give you lots of information regarding tests and it is up to you to decide whether you want them. There are two different types: screening tests and diagnostic tests. The goal of screening tests is to figure out the risk of there being a problem-based on the result, you may be advised to have a follow-up diagnostic test.
Most women opt to have the screening tests, but it's worth considering how far you would continue with the process. For example, if you had a high-risk result from the screening test, would you opt to have a diagnostic test? If you did, and the results of that were positive, would you want to continue with the pregnancy?
Such considerations are difficult but important. For example, if you know that, no matter what, you and your partner would want to continue with the pregnancy then you may decide not to have a test, or decide to have the test so that you can prepare yourself for a baby with potential problems.
Excerpted from Pregnancy Day by Day.
Copyright © 2008 Dorling Kindersley Limited.
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