When my neighbor called me to tell me she was pregnant, I was thrilled for her. She had been talking about having a baby for a couple of years, and it was nice to hear she was finally getting the opportunity to have the little one she so wanted. I invited her over for coffee and within a few minutes she was sitting at my kitchen table, clutching three grainy sonogram images. “Oh, wow,” I said, “I didn’t realize you were that far along.” I accepted the pictures and stared down at them, completely confused. I saw absolutely nothing.
I’m usually not good at examining these, but I was really having trouble with this set of ultrasounds. Finally, my neighbor pointed out a tiny pouch toward the bottom of the image and what appeared to be a grain of rice inside. “Wait,” I said, “how far along are you, exactly?” She beamed and told me she was “already" six weeks along. Six weeks? I knew plenty of women who didn’t even know they were pregnant at six weeks, much less have had already been to the doctor to have baby’s first sonogram ready to put in the scrapbook. Was she jumping the gun, or doing what she needed to do?
How early do you really need to see the doctor after discovering your pregnancy?
It may seem ridiculous for women to fly into their doctor’s offices as soon as they suspect they may be pregnant, particularly if they have taken an early-detection test and can only be three or four weeks into their pregnancy. This, however, is the first step toward a healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby. Prenatal care is essential to a healthy and successful pregnancy, not because of its ability to cure problems, but for the ability to monitor the health of the mother and baby so that any problems can be detected early and decisions can be made confidently.
Prenatal care is vital and should begin ASAP
Prenatal care should begin as soon as a woman suspects she might be pregnant. Even if this is only three or four weeks from her period, visiting the doctor early is the opportunity to get started on proper care and also to establish the type of prenatal care the mother-to-be wishes to have for the rest of her pregnancy. Though most women will not have any invasive tests such as sonograms or cervical exams this early into their pregnancy, some practitioners may choose to do these tests to confirm a pregnancy due date, or to examine for infections, abnormalities or any other problems. Prenatal care should begin in the first trimester when critical development is happening during the time when both mother and child need monitoring and support.
Source: Kogan, Michael D. Relation of the content of Prenatal Care to the Risk of Low Birth Weight: Maternal Reports of Health Behavior Advice and Initial Prenatal Care Procedures, Obstetrical and Gynecological Survey, October 1994, Volume 49, Issue 10, pp 667-668.