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Get early prenatal care

Prenatal care (or medical care while you are pregnant) can greatly improve your chances of having a healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby. It is important to get prenatal care as soon as you find out that you are pregnant and to keep all your appointments, even if you feel fine. Regular prenatal check-ups let you know how your baby is doing and can identify small problems before they become big ones. See the doctor or go to the clinic as soon as you think you may be pregnant.

What to Expect

At your first prenatal visit, the doctor will:

  • Give you a pregnancy test
  • Do a physical exam, a pelvic exam (check your ovaries and uterus) and collect a pap smear
  • Find out your height and weight
  • Test your urine
  • Draw blood for lab work including tests for HIV, STD and sickle cell disease. (Your consent is required for some blood tests including HIV and sickle cell.) To learn more about STDs during pregnancy visit
    Opens in new window STDs and Pregnancy - CDC Fact Sheet.

Your doctor will ask you about:

  • Your general health
  • What you eat
  • Any allergies you may have
  • Any medicines, herbs, vitamins and supplements you take
  • Your family medical history
  • About any previous pregnancies and any complications you may have had
  • How you feel

Most women will have an appointment every month until the 7th month. Then visits are scheduled every two weeks. At the 9th month, prenatal visits are usually scheduled weekly.

Each time you go back for a prenatal visit your doctor will:

  • Check on you:
    • Check your blood pressure
    • Check you weight
    • Check your urine
    • Check for swelling
  • Check on your baby:
    • Measure your stomach to see how fast your baby is growing
    • Listen to your baby's heartbeat
  • Answer your questions and give you information about how your body is changing, how your baby is growing, and how to stay healthy.

These visits are a good time for you and the baby's father to ask questions. Write them down ahead of time so you won't forget. Pregnancy can be stressful, and your healthcare team knows this. Be sure to discuss any concerns you have with them.

Other Links

North Carolina

Opens in new window North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, Division of Medical Assistance (DMA) - Information on Opens in new windowMedicaid in general, Opens in new windowMedicaid for Pregnant Women (over age 21) and Opens in new windowhealth insurance for teens and babies

Opens in new windowBaby Love Program - a collaborative program between the N.C. Division of Public Health and Division of Medical Assistance, providing specially trained nurses and social workers called Maternity Care Coordinators (MCCs) to assist pregnant women in obtaining medical care and an array of services such as transportation, housing, job training and child care.

Opens in new windowNorth Carolina Association of Free Clinics - Information on free healthcare clinics across the state.

Opens in new windowWomen, Infants, and Children (WIC) - Provides food to low-income pregnant, post-partum and breastfeeding women, infants and children until the age of five. Call your Opens in new windowlocal county health department or the NC Family Health Resource Line at 1-800-367-2229 for more information and an application.


The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Office of Women's Health has partnered with text4baby - a free service of the National Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Coalition—to develop Opens in new window a new video for pregnant women and new mothers. The video connects women to medication resources from the FDA and highlights the benefits of signing up for text4baby. 

For more health information, search MedlinePlus

MedlinePlus Trusted Health Information for You

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Last updated: August 2014

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Text4baby link

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