Doctors visits: Second trimester
Throughout your second trimester, you’ll continue to visit your doctor once a month—as long as your pregnancy progresses normally. Each appointment probably will begin with you stepping onto the scale.
Monitoring your weight gain
During your fourth, fifth and six months, you should be gaining ½ to ¾ of a pound a week. By tracking your weight, your doctor can estimate your baby’s growth and watch for signs of preeclampsia.
Doctors stress that you should try hard to stay within the proper weight for your body. Straying too far from this guideline could lead to difficulties.
By gaining too much weight:
- You put extra stress on your heart, which already is working overtime to pump your increased blood volume.
- You put additional stress on your joints, which pregnancy hormones have loosened and made lax.
- You increase your risk of developing preeclampsia (a form of high blood pressure), a serious condition that can be life-threatening.
- You’ll be more likely to develop aches in your lower back.
- You may make labor and delivery more difficult because your baby will be big.
- Urinalysis. This test, performed at each doctor’s visit, measures the protein and sugar in your urine. It will detect excess protein, which can be a warning sign of preeclampsia.
- Triple-marker test. This test measures a specific protein, alpha-fetoprotein or AFP, in your blood. If the AFP levels are high, this may identify a neural tube defect; if AFP levels are low (combined with abnormalities found in two other tests), this may identify Down syndrome.
- Rhesus (Rh)-antibody-level test. This blood test is for rhesus-negative women. Most people have a specific protein in their blood called the Rh factor. Those who don’t are Rh-negative. If a woman tests Rh-negative, the father of the child also should be tested for his Rh factor because problems arise when an Rh-negative woman conceives a baby with an Rh-positive man. The tests are done about halfway through the pregnancy or at once if the woman has a bleeding problem.
- Ultrasound. This test uses high-frequency sound waves to visualize the unborn baby. An ultrasound examination can detect a pregnancy as early as six weeks after your last menstrual period and show the baby’s movements at approximately 12 weeks of gestational age.
Extra test for women older than 35
- Amniocentesis. This tests the fluid surrounding your baby to detect chromosomal and other genetic disorders such as Down syndrome, hemophilia, and sickle-cell anemia. It’s usually performed on women older than 35 during their 15th to 16th week of pregnancy and on women who have an abnormal triple-screen result.