Managing Your Pregnancy Appointments
Antenatal care is crucial to monitoring the health of you and your baby. So it’s important to find a doctor you’re comfortable with. After all, your obstetrician is the person that will take care of you and your unborn child throughout the 40 weeks and deliver your baby.
Cost is an important factor when it comes to choosing your doctor but it should not be your only consideration. Don’t pick a doctor because the antenatal package offers a great deal, or because you work or live near their office. You don’t have to rush into locking yourself in with an obstetrician. Ask around for recommendations and see a few doctors before deciding on which one you prefer.
Schedule Your Appointments
Normally, routine check-ups in the first 32 weeks are scheduled around once a month. After that, you’ll see your doctor every 2 weeks until Week 38 and then every week until you’re due. Your doctor might schedule more visits to closely monitor you and the baby or if more tests are required in the case of complications.
Be Prepared to Wait
Remember that your pregnancy appointments are not like a simple visit to the doctor’s office where you spend maybe 15 minutes in the clinic. At some of the visits you may be required to do ultrasound scans or tests –- a test for diabetes, for example, can take around 2 or 3 hours to complete. Mark your calendar for the appointments and set aside adequate time to account for waiting and travel.
In addition, please be understanding. Obstetrician and gynaecologist Dr Tan Thiam Chye says he sees around 25 to 50 pregnant mums each day and sometimes when he needs to attend to an emergency — like delivering a baby — he will need to delay or reschedule some of his appointments. Be considerate about this as one day it may be your delivery holding up other people’s appointments! In the meantime, bring a book or download your favourite podcast to pass the time while you wait.
It is helpful to know what your next visit is going to involve — is it a routine check-up or are tests involved? Find out in advance how long these will take. Also ask if there’s a best time of day to avoid delays. Often it’s best to book the first appointment in the morning or the first appointment after the lunch break.
Read Up and Ask Questions
Educate yourself about the changes that take place in each week of your pregnancy and if there’s anything you’re unsure about, make a note and ask your doctor at your next visit (for something urgent, let your doctor know right away). Don’t wait for your doctor to feed you information — do your homework and ask the right questions.
Take Advantage of Evening Appointments
Working mums will find evening or weekend appointments extremely helpful, especially when work gets busy and taking time off is difficult. Not all doctors offer these appointments, so do remember to ask in advance.
Take the Baby’s Dad
You don’t have to go to appointments alone. In fact, most obstetricians encourage the dad to come along. This gets him more involved in the process and he may be able to ask questions you may not have considered.