Importance of Prenatal Visits (Why do I need prenatal visits?)

Prenatal visits help you and your provider to:

  • Make sure your baby is growing well.
  • Check you for problems in pregnancy such as high blood pressure, diabetes, infections, or anemia.
  • Talk about questions or worries you may have.

Frequency of Visits (How often will I have prenatal visits?)

Expect 1 prenatal visit a month until you are 7 months. Then you will have a visit every 2 weeks until the last month. You will have a visit every week in the last month. Your provider may ask you to come more often for any problems you may have.

What happens at my first prenatal visit?

You will see a provider on your first visit. The provider may be a midwife, obstetrician, family medicine doctor, or nurse practitioner. Expect your provider to:

  • Ask questions about your health history.
  • Check your weight, blood pressure, heart, lungs, thyroid, and breasts.
  • Check your uterus and cervix.
  • Decide your baby’s due date.
  • Your provider will also order some tests.

These might be:

  • A Pap test to check for cancer of your cervix.
  • A test for infections in your vagina.
  • A blood test to check for anemia, your blood type, and signs of infection.
  • A urine test to check for protein, sugar, or infection.
  • A test for tuberculosis (an infection in your lungs).
  • HIV counseling and the choice to take an HIV test.


Ultrasounds & Tests for your Baby

Will I have an ultrasound or other tests for my baby?

Your provider will talk to you about an ultrasound to check for problems in your baby. Your provider may ask you to talk with a genetic counselor. A genetic counselor will talk to you about the chance of your baby having a genetic problem like Down Syndrome.

Here are some facts about some tests for your baby:

  • Ultrasound: An ultrasound uses sound waves to make a picture of your baby. Ultrasound can be used to check the:
    • Gestational age of your baby.
    • Heartbeat.
    • Growth of your baby’s heart, brain, spine, kidneys and other organs.
    • Position and size of your baby.

Please drink 6-8 glasses of water before your ultrasound appointment and do not urinate (pee) until your ultrasound is done. It is easier to see your baby this way.

  • First trimester or 3-month screen test: You may have this test when you are in month 3. This test is an ultrasound and a blood test that tells the chance of some birth defects such as Down syndrome and Trisomy 18.
  • Quadruple screen test: The quadruple screen is a blood test. It looks at 4 substances in your blood that may be related to some genetic problems or problems with your baby’s spine.
  • MaterniT21: This is another type of blood test that checks for different possible genetic problems in your baby. You may be offered this if you are 35 years or older or for other reasons too. Our genetics counselors can help you decide if this test is right for you.
  • Sickle cell test: This is a blood test for you, and sometimes for the baby’s father, to tell the chance of your baby having sickle cell disease. You can inherit (get it from your mother or father) sickle cell disease. Sickle cell disease is more common in people of African ancestry.
  • Cystic fibrosis test: This is a blood test for you, and sometimes for the baby’s father, to tell the chance of your baby having cystic fibrosis. You can inherit (get it from your mother or father) cystic fibrosis. Cystic fibrosis is more common in people of Northern European ancestry.

Other tests

Tests at 6 months:

  • Diabetes test (1 hour glucola test). This is a blood test to check for diabetes you can get when you are pregnant.
  • A blood test to check for anemia. 

Tests at 9 months:

  • Group B Strep (GBS) test. GBS is bacteria (germ) in your vagina that can make your baby sick. Women with GBS need antibiotics (medicine) during labor to lessen the chance that the baby will get sick.
  • Another HIV test

Genetic Counseling

Prenatal Genetics
Genetic counselors Philip Connors, MS, CGC and Lillian Sosa, MS, CGC  provide consultation and counseling in the antenatal unit at Boston Medical Center to women who are pregnant or considering a pregnancy. Reasons for visits include advanced maternal age, abnormal nuchal translucency or maternal serum screening, medication exposures, carrier status, and family history. Clinic is held in Boston Medical Center’s Antental Center, Yawkey 5th Floor.

For an appointment call 617.414.2000

For more information visit

Medical geneticist Jodi Hoffman, MD provides consultation and management for women who are currently pregnant with a fetus found to have birth defects, genetic conditions, or at high risk for a condition seen in a previous child. Dr. Hoffman also provides consultation to women and men considering a pregnancy who may be at increased risk of having a child affected with a genetic condition due to family history of genetic conditions (Fragile X syndrome, cystic fibrosis, SMA, sickle cell anemia, etc.) and ethnic background (Ashkenazi Jewish and others). Clinic is held Tuesdays in Boston Medical Center’s Women Center, Yawkey 5th Floor.

For an appointment call 617-414-2000 and fax referrals to 617-414-7212
For more information:
•    Ethnic Based Screening
•    Jewish Screening
•    Prenatal Genetic Counseling