Nov 8, 2022 A Pregnancy Roadmap

Here's how to stay on course during your pregnancy journey.

Emily Slutsky, MD
Emily Slutsky, MD

Pregnancy is a 10-month journey—yes, 10 months, not nine, because gestational age is calculated from the last menstrual period (LMP) through delivery, which averages 40 weeks. And while there can be twists and turns along the way, there are a few regular checkpoints on your route to help you navigate your pregnancy safely and keep you on course.

Each pregnancy is different, but, generally speaking, you’ll visit with your provider, whether you choose an OB/GYN or a midwife, every four weeks until your 28th week. Then, your appointments will be every two weeks until 36 weeks, and once a week thereafter. Be sure to ask questions or voice concerns to your provider at each prenatal visit.

OB/GYN Emily Slutsky, MD, Director of the Women’s Health Medical Genetics Division at Jersey City Medical Center (JCMC), maps out some of the important stops on your pregnancy journey.

First Trimester (Weeks 0-13)

Stop #1: First Prenatal Visit (6-10 Weeks)

There they are: the two blue lines you’ve been hoping for. What should you do now? “Book your first prenatal appointment as soon as you get a positive result on your home pregnancy test,” says Dr. Slutsky. At your first visit, your provider will take your medical history, conduct a pelvic and breast exam, a Pap test, and various blood and urine tests. You’ll get an estimated due date and have time to ask questions and discuss any concerns.

Stop #2: Second Prenatal Visit (10-12 Weeks)

On your second visit—and all subsequent visits—your provider will check your weight and blood pressure, and the growth of your baby and your uterus. “You may also get to hear your baby’s heartbeat,” says Dr. Slutsky.

  • Screen: Noninvasive prenatal testing (NIPT). Done at around 10 weeks; screens for chromosomal abnormalities such as Down syndrome, trisomy 18 and trisomy 13.
  • Screen: Nuchal translucency (NT) screening. Performed between weeks 10 and 14, this ultrasound measures the nuchal fold, an area of fluid behind the baby’s neck, to screen for chromosomal abnormalities.
  • Diagnostic Test: Chorionic villus sampling (CVS). If an NIPT or NT screening indicates a higher than usual risk for certain congenital conditions, this test, done between weeks 10 and 13, can confirm or rule out the condition.

Second Trimester (Weeks 14-27)

Stop #3: Prenatal Visit (16-18 Weeks)

Routine visit.

  • Ultrasound: Anatomy scan. Also known as a level 2 or 20-week ultrasound, this test assesses the baby’s growth and development.
  • Screen: Quad screen. Done between weeks 15 and 22 to determine whether there’s an increased risk for certain chromosomal or neural-tube defects.
  • Diagnostic Test: Amniocentesis. Done starting at 15 weeks, takes a sample of amniotic fluid to detect genetic and chromosomal conditions, including Down syndrome.

Stop #4: Prenatal Visit (20-22 Weeks)

Routine visit.

  • Ultrasound: Ultrasound to evaluate fetal anatomy.

Stop #5: Prenatal Visit (24-28 Weeks)

Routine visit.

  • Screen: Glucose screening. Done between 24 and 28 weeks, it is used to detect gestational diabetes.
  • Class: Begin childbirth education classes (24-28 weeks), such as the one offered at JCMC.
  • Birth Plan: Draft a birth plan so your health care team knows your preferences for labor, delivery postpartum care, etc.

Third Trimester (Weeks 28-40)

Stop #6: Prenatal Visit (32 Weeks)

Routine visit.

  • Test: Group B strep test (35 to 37 weeks)

Stop #7: Prenatal Visit (36 Weeks)

Routine visit.

Check baby’s position (should be down).

  • Class: Consider a breastfeeding class if you’re planning to nurse.

Stop #8: Prenatal Visit (38 Weeks)

Routine visit.

Stop #9: Prenatal Visit (39 Weeks)

Routine visit.

Stop #10: Prenatal Visit (40 Weeks)

Routine visit.

Stop #11: Labor and Delivery or C-Section

Welcome your little one into the world!

What Is a Midwife?

“Midwives are health care professionals trained in the care of and support for low-risk women throughout their reproductive life span and beyond,” says Batsheva L. Bane, a certified nurse midwife at JCMC. “Certified nurse midwives are nurses with additional education and training who’ve passed national certifying examination boards. The midwives at JCMC all hold master’s degrees and above in nurse midwifery, as well as additional certifications.”

A midwife can:

  • See patients throughout their entire pregnancy (“A woman can see a midwife exclusively if her pregnancy is low-risk or can be co-managed with a doctor if there is a co-existing medical or pregnancy-related condition,” says Bane.)
  • Address patients’ personal and medical needs
  • Optimize patients’ health throughout their pregnancy
  • Care for patients during childbirth
  • Provide time, attention and education throughout the pregnancy and birth process

Learn more about maternity services at Jersey City Medical Center or request a maternity tour.