When Should I Start Prenatal Care?

Many women discover that they can’t see an OBGYN until they’re 10-12 weeks along. However, this is an arbitrary designation. You can actually start your prenatal care earlier. In fact, we would encourage you to be seen by an OBGYN or Board Certified Nurse-Midwife as early as possible in your pregnancy.

At Baby+Co., we believe in seeing you as soon as you know you’re pregnant. Today, we’ll talk about some of the common reasons for the delay in prenatal care with OBGYNs in the United States have, as well as what you can do at your appointment with a midwife as early as four weeks, or whenever you have a positive pregnancy test.


Why won’t my doctor see me before 10-12 weeks?

  1. Overbooked: Scheduling Availability

A lot of this boils down to scheduling. OBGYNs are often hospital-based specialists who schedule folks far in advance. Call for your annual exam, and you’ll get an appointment in 6-8 weeks. That’s how far out they’re scheduling. This can also be the case with prenatal care.


  1. Efficiency: Do All The Tests

The best time to do the first ultrasound for establishing a due date is around the 10 week mark. (This is when a midwife would do this test, as well.) However, the test for dating is only one of the things you do in early pregnancy. There are many other important conversations to have, such as reviewing medical history, current medications, and nutrition.

The first few weeks of pregnancy are the most rapid time of development for the embryo. There isn’t a huge window of opportunity, but adding vitamins or adjusting certain medications you may be taking are important to look at as soon as is possible.


  1. Outdated Medical Beliefs: Early Miscarriage

This belief is increasingly uncommon; however, you will still find some OBGYNs who tell you to not bother coming in until 10-12 weeks in the case of an early miscarriage. This ignores the reality that women are in need of early prenatal care. It is also valuable for women to have an established relationship with a prenatal provider who they can talk with for emotional and medical support in the case of miscarriage.


Why You Should Seek Early Prenatal Care

Two to three months is a long time to sit around Googling your questions, especially if it’s your first pregnancy. That’s why the midwives at Baby+Co. encourage you to seek early prenatal care as soon as possible.


What happens during your first visit with a Board Certified Nurse-Midwife?

  • Full review of medical history
  • Discussion about diet and nutrition
  • Review of medications to see if there are any safety issues and adjustments that need to be made

A full physical exam and blood tests are also done in early pregnancy, but these can wait until after 10 weeks. This means that a visit before then is mostly a talking visit.

The earlier you’re in care, the easier it will be to establish an accurate due date. It’s easier to remember things like the date of last period and the date of the first positive pregnancy test when they are more recent.

During an early prenatal visit, we also talk about options for different kinds of genetic testing and prenatal screenings that will be coming soon. These decisions don’t need to be made right away, but they still come early. Establishing a relationship with a care provider offers you mental and emotional support. It is also helpful to have multiple conversations with your care provider about this topic so that you aren’t put in a position where you have to decide on the spot, immediately.

For people who are interested in exploring a different model of care, or their options when it comes to using an OBGYN or a midwife, this is also a great time to shop around and ask questions without necessarily committing fully. You have the chance to gain more support and ask questions early on in a very exciting time, and be assured that when it comes to care for you and your baby, you have options.


P.S. You don’t even have to come in to Baby+Co. (or be a client!) to visit with a midwife – you can have your first visit with a midwife from the comfort of your own home. Ask Baby+Co. is our virtual visit service available to women in Tennessee and North Carolina. Click here to learn more and schedule an appointment.

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