Prenatal care: 2nd trimester visits

Pregnancy and prenatal care go hand in hand. During the second trimester, prenatal care includes routine lab tests and measurements of your baby's growth. You might consider prenatal testing, too. By Mayo Clinic Staff

Prenatal care is an important part of a healthy pregnancy, starting as soon as you think you're pregnant. As your pregnancy progresses, you'll continue to visit your health care provider regularly — probably once a month throughout the second trimester, or weeks 14 to 27 of pregnancy.

Here's what to expect at your second trimester prenatal appointments.

Review the basics

Your health care provider will check your blood pressure and weight at every visit. Mention any signs or symptoms you've been experiencing.

Then it's time for your baby to take center stage. Your health care provider might:

  • Track your baby's growth. By measuring your abdomen from the top of your uterus to your pubic bone, your health care provider can gauge your baby's growth. This measurement in centimeters often equals the number of weeks of your pregnancy to date.
  • Listen to your baby's heartbeat. At second trimester visits, you might listen to your baby's heartbeat using a Doppler instrument or occasionally a modified stethoscope. The Doppler instrument detects motion and conveys it as sound, which allows you to "hear" the baby's movement.
  • Assess fetal movement. Tell your health care provider when you begin noticing flutters or kicks. This usually happens by about 20 weeks — or perhaps earlier if you've been pregnant before.

Expect routine lab tests

You might need blood tests to check for low iron levels or gestational diabetes, a type of diabetes that can develop during pregnancy.

If you have Rh negative blood — an inherited trait that refers to a specific protein found on the surface of red blood cells — you might need a blood test to check for Rh antibodies. These antibodies can develop if your baby has Rh positive blood and your Rh negative blood mixes with your baby's blood. Without treatment, the antibodies could cross the placenta and attack the baby's red blood cells — particularly in a subsequent pregnancy with an Rh positive baby.

A urine sample might be tested for signs of a bladder, urinary tract or kidney infection.

Aug. 04, 2012 See more In-depth