Your Pregnancy Checklist

Months 1-3

Month 1: Take your vitamins. As soon as you know you're pregnant, start taking a prenatal supplement with 400mcg of folic acid if you aren't already. This reduces the risk of neural-tube defects, such as spina bifida. It should also contain 27mg of iron and 1,000mg of calcium, says Caren Stalburg, M.D., an ob-gyn at the University of Michigan Health System, in Ann Arbor.

Choose a health-care provider. It's time to pick an ob-gyn or a midwife if you don't have one (or if your doc doesn't do obstetrics). Consider factors like proximity to your home, insurance coverage, and which practice will work best to aim for your ideal birth experience. Once you've chosen, set up an appointment.

Month 2: Schedule a checkup. In addition to a physical around Week 10, you'll have an ultrasound to detect the baby's heartbeat and verify the due date. After this, you'll go in every four weeks through Week 28, and then every three weeks. After 36 weeks, you'll go weekly.

Month 3: Start taking tests. Between Weeks 11 and 14 first-trimester screenings are given, including pregnancy-associated plasma protein-A (PAPP-A) and human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG), blood tests that determine the risk of Down syndrome and trisomy 18. You may also be given a nuchal translucency screening, an ultrasound that measures the back of the fetus's neck (its thickness can indicate chromosomal problems). Results from the screenings will determine if you need further diagnostic tests, such as chorionic villus sampling (CVS) or an amniocentesis. No matter what, women age 35 and over should talk to their doctor about having one of these two genetic tests, which are performed around ten to 12 weeks and 15 to 20 weeks, respectively.

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