Normal Number of Prenatal Visits?

Hello all,

Recently found out we’re expecting #2. We’ve moved/changed insurance since #1, and I have been surprised by the prenatal schedule of appts we’ve been given (both pregnancies are in USA). With #1 we had an early dating ultrasound at 7+3, followed by 12 additional appointments that followed the ACOG schedule of 1 every 4 weeks until week 28, then one every 2 weeks until 36 weeks, then weekly.

Our new provider suggests the following schedule, (8 total appts, at weeks):
8-12
16-20
21-27
28-31
32
36
38
40

I’m mostly frustrated by the reduction in early/late care. They don’t schedule a first ultrasound until 10 weeks, and then your next appt is usually the anatomy scan around 18 weeks. I had an early stalled/undetected miscarriage w/the same providers last fall (fetal development stopped at 6+3, but wasn’t discovered/resolved until D&C at 10+ weeks), and had hoped for an earlier ultrasound for peace of mind this time around.
I was told they were totally booked and couldn’t get me in until 10 weeks unless an emergency came up (I called as soon as I knew I was pregnant at 4 weeks). And then to wait two months after that first scan before a second visit? I’m not thrilled.

This is a major healthcare provider/system in SoCal. Has anyone else has a prenatal visit schedule that prescribed several fewer prenatal appts than the ACOG recs? Am I being overly worried?

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When was your first born? I do know with my third born in 2020 my number of visits scaled way down from my first two who were born 2016 and 2018 just because of COVID. When I had a 4th pregnancy toward the end of last year/ beginning of this year the scaled down model was still what was being used.

ETA: my practice if choice (New England side of the US) scheduled ultrasounds later. With my first how I was measuring didn’t measure up to my EDD that I gave them so I had an earlier then usual scan at 16 weeks; #2 wasn’t given an ultrasound until 20 weeks; #3 was an ultrasound at 10 weeks only because I had no idea how far along I could be; #4 miscarried 1st trimester otherwise that ultrasound would have been at 20 weeks unless something had come up

[name_f]My[/name_f] first was born in 2018. I wondered if this might be the case, but the intake nurse said no, this was their normal schedule (and that during the height of 2020-21 COVID they even had the option to do some of the 8 visits virtually).

They’ve also stopped doing prenatal care visits at the office closest to my house (<1 mile) and moved them all to the big hospital 30 miles away (a long drive in SoCal traffic, a nightmare to park at, and more potential for COVID exposure) while still advertising the closer office as an OB site on their website, so I we’ve just gotten off to a rough start all around.

With my baby who was just born in [name_u]August[/name_u] 2021 we followed the ACOG schedule you mentioned. But I do know other women who have far less appointments. Maybe see if there is a different office that you could switch to that would give you the care you’re looking for.

Thanks! Unfortunately we have [name_m]Kaiser[/name_m], one of those combo insurer/provider systems (usually super convenient because everything is integrated, but not in this case), so while we could change individual doctors, they all practice under the same doctor’s group and follow the same prenatal schedule. We’d have to change insurance, and open enrollment wouldn’t allow that until less than one month before the due date.

Oh wow, did you at least get to hear a doppler for heartbeat earlier? I’d go nuts if I had to wait to week 20 for an ultrasound!

I’m trying to remember that if I hadn’t had #1 at an office that had more appts I wouldn’t have thought twice about this schedule. I’m also skittish because of the experience of showing up to your first ultrasound not knowing your baby stopped developing a month ago was really devastating, so I’m antsy to hear a heartbeat or get some sort of reassurance earlier.

Oh man, I’m sorry to hear that. You could buy an at home fetal doppler to at least give you some peace of mind being able to check up on baby whenever you want. You could also consider going to one of those private ultrasound places to get extra ultrasounds but I’m not sure how much they cost.

Oh my god!!! I just wanted to say congratulations on number 2! (And so sorry for your loss as well and how you found out)

I’m also sorry you have to deal with such an awful system for appointments and healthcare. If I can say two things - I definitely thinking maybe paying out of pocket for an earlier ultrasound is a great idea if it’s feasible and will help you stress the early weeks less.
And second, if you are suffering with pregnancy anxiety, a fetal Doppler isn’t recommended for you to get for home use in early pregnancy. I spoke to my previous midwife about this and she says they aren’t good machines, that even the ones they use can struggle to find the heart sound at even 10 weeks and it can often cause panic in an expecting mom when there’s no reason. And more often than not, mom is gonna find her own heart beat and think it’s the baby haha just some food for thought!

Yes we had a Doppler at every appointment.

Thanks, Kibby!! Surreal to see old faces (avatars?). Thinking good thoughts for you guys. <3
Time has sort of flown by this go around because I’ve been super busy, and I’m about a week out from the first ultrasound. I’ve been feeling more positive, because I’ve been sick A LOT. I know that’s not a guarantee of anything, but at least it’s kept worry at bay.