Oh baby, you’re having a baby!

Congratulations, you are having a baby! There is no shortage of baby books and reading material for expectant mothers, and the avalanche of information can be overwhelming. Washington University Obstetric Consultants are here to help you understand the changes that will occur in your body, what to expect during your prenatal visits, throughout your pregnancy, delivery and care after your baby is born.

Eric Strand, MD, chief of Washington University General Obstetrics and Gynecology, says of his group, “We take a team approach to patient care. During your prenatal visits, you will ideally have a chance to meet each physician in our group. Since babies arrive at any time on any day (and rarely when expected!) we want to make sure the mother has a familiar face taking care of her during the delivery process.”

As soon as you believe you are pregnant, call for an appointment. Your first prenatal visit is usually scheduled between 6 and 11 weeks after your last menstrual period.

Dr. Strand explains, “At your first visit we will take a detailed medical history and perform a physical exam that may include a pelvic exam and Pap smear. An ultrasound will confirm your pregnancy and tell us how far along you are. We will then discuss the overall plan for the rest of your pregnancy and make sure all of your questions are answered.”

Before your first prenatal visit:

Start taking a prenatal vitamin – it is important to get enough folic acid, as this greatly reduces your baby’s risk of developing neural tube defects such as spina bifida.

Write down all medications you are taking – prescription and over-the-counter. Bring this list to your first visit.

If you smoke, quit. Smoking increases chances of miscarriage, placental problems and preterm birth.    

Stop drinking alcohol. One drink a day can affect your baby and puts him or her at risk for low birth weight, learning disabilities and hyperactivity.

Limit caffeine to 200 mg a day – about one 11-ounce cup of coffee. If you really miss the taste of coffee, consider switching to decaf.

Start good sleeping habits – your body will be more exhausted than you ever imagined it could be. Go to bed early and remember, naps are your friend!

Prenatal visits will be scheduled every four weeks until about 28 weeks from your last menstrual period. From 28 weeks to 35 weeks you will be seen every two to three weeks – depending on your specific needs. At 36 weeks or after  you will have weekly visits until your baby is born.

It’s always a good idea to write down questions as they come to you – that way you will have a list ready to ask the doctor at each visit. Some frequently asked questions by expectant mothers:

After my initial ultrasound, when is the next one performed?

What foods should I avoid?

What are good choices for exercise?

What are my options for prenatal genetic screening tests?

How can I get relief from morning sickness?

Is it OK to get a flu shot?

What medicines are safe to take?

Your health, and that of your baby, should be a priority—we will try to help you accomplish this goal with high-quality, compassionate prenatal care.


Dr. Strand and his team of Washington University Obstetric Consultants will begin delivering babies at the new Women’s and Infant Center at the end of summer 2017 — located adjacent and connected to St. Louis Children’s Hospital.

To make an appointment with Washington University Obstetrics, please call 314-362-4211.

Women’s Health Center
Center for Advanced Medicine
4921 Parkview Place, Suite 5A
St. Louis, MO 63110 

Center for Advanced Medicine – South County
5201 Midamerica Plaza
St. Louis, MO 63129