Q: I'm 11 weeks pregnant with my second, and had my first doctor's appointment. My doctor didn't check the heartbeat of my baby because he said we wouldn't be able to hear it, but with my first child we heard the heartbeat at 9 1/2 weeks. He then scheduled my next appointment for when I am 20 weeks which to me makes absolutely no sense. How am I supposed to know that everything is going right with this pregnancy?
A: Typically, a first OB visit is scheduled between 8 and 12 weeks. In most large cities, an ultrasound would be performed to confirm a pregnancy and a heartbeat. If an ultrasound in not available, a heartbeat is typically confirmed using a handheld Doppler device, that by using sound waves, can detect a fetal heartbeat as early at 10 weeks. On ultrasound, a baby's heartbeat can be seen as early as 6 weeks. According to ACOG, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, prenatal visits should occur every 4 weeks until 28 weeks, every 2 weeks until 36 weeks and then weekly until delivery occurs. Higher risk pregnancies are seen at more frequent intervals, but even low risk pregnancies should be seen at the previously mentioned intervals. If your doctor does not plan on seeing you between 11 and 20 weeks, I would strongly recommend that you find another doctor who will not only follow ACOG guidelines, but who will take better overall care of you.