Compassionate care before and during your pregnancy and delivery of your child
Pregnancy may be one of the most joyful times of your life. To keep yourself and your baby as healthy as possible, it’s important to seek care from specialists in prenatal care. Duke obstetricians provide prenatal care to women who deliver their babies at Duke University Hospital and Duke Regional Hospital. Our goal is to keep you and your baby healthy during your pregnancy, and to prepare you for a safe delivery with minimal medical intervention.
Before Your Pregnancy
If you’re thinking about getting pregnant, a preconception appointment will give our obstetricians the opportunity to review your medical history and address any potential concerns, such as medical conditions you have, or medications you take that can be harmful to a developing fetus. We also can uncover behavior that could be harmful to your baby, such as smoking or alcohol use.
If you are having difficulty getting pregnant, our obstetricians can identify medical issues that can prevent conception. If the problem is more complex, we can refer you to the Duke Fertility Center to pinpoint the cause of infertility and offer appropriate treatment options.
Your Prenatal Care
Many women use a home pregnancy test to learn they are pregnant four to six weeks after conception. Your first OB appointment should coincide with the eighth week of your pregnancy. If your pregnancy is without complications, you will see one of our obstetricians or nurse practitioners about once a month until the 28th week. During weeks 28 to 35, you’ll be seen every two weeks. You’ll be seen every week from 36 weeks until delivery. At each visit, our obstetricians will monitor your baby’s growth and your overall health.
- During your pregnancy, we recommend that you see each of our obstetricians because they perform deliveries at the hospital on a rotating basis. We want to make sure you’ve gotten to know all of our doctors before you go into labor.
- If your pregnancy is determined to be high-risk, we work closely with the maternal-fetal medicine doctors at Duke University Hospital who will be involved in your ongoing care through your delivery. This may be the case if you are carrying multiples, have a history of pregnancy complications (miscarriage, preterm delivery or cervical incompetence) or have a preexisting medical condition, such as heart disease, lupus or a seizure disorder.
- The Duke Family Medicine Center offers expectant mothers prenatal care through the CenteringPregnancy® program. It replaces routine individual visits with group visits of eight to twelve pregnant women who are due about the same time. The two-hour visits include a one-on-one assessment with the provider, group sharing, and discussions. Group sessions include a facilitated discussion of pregnancy, birth, and newborn care as well as overall health, stress management, and more.
- To help you prepare for childbirth and what to expect afterward, you can attend one of the many classes we offer. You also are welcome to tour the labor and delivery units at both hospitals.
- We will also see you six weeks after delivery for a post-partum checkup.
Choosing a Hospital For Your Delivery
Where you choose to deliver your baby will determine which group of OB specialists you see during your pregnancy. Whether you choose to have your baby at Duke University Hospital’s Birthing Center or at Duke Regional Hospital, you will receive care in a comfortable, caring environment.
Duke University Hospital’s Birthing Center is a regional referral center. It offers immediate access to our board-certified maternal-fetal medicine specialists, as well as obstetric-trained anesthesiologists and nurses. Our team is prepared day and night to handle normal deliveries and emergency situations. Our labor and delivery suites feature LDR Rooms (labor-delivery-recovery) in which you give birth and recover. The Duke Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) Level III nursery provides complete neonatology care for premature and sick newborns.
Duke Regional Hospital is a community hospital primarily for women who expect to have routine deliveries. You can choose to work with a certified nurse midwife for your prenatal care and assistance in your normal labor and birth. We work closely with you to minimize interventions and offer non-medical amenities to help manage labor pain. We offer a special care nursery where preterm babies, or full-term babies who need extra help, receive tender care from expert neonatologists. If you or your baby have complications, our relationship with Duke University Hospital gives you immediate access to the specialized care you need.
Pregnancy care is important for monitoring your and your baby’s health. Tests that you may undergo during pregnancy include:
Sound waves are used to produce pictures of your baby. Often performed during the first clinic visit to check the viability of the pregnancy and to estimate your due date. A second routine ultrasound is performed between 17–20 weeks to monitor the baby’s progress and possibly find out your baby’s gender. We also offer 3D ultrasound when needed.
Determines the risk for certain birth defects such as Down syndrome and Trisomy 18. Involves maternal blood tests and an ultrasound. Takes place between the 11th and 13th week of pregnancy
Tests for cystic fibrosis. Your doctor removes a small piece of tissue from the placenta to be tested for birth defects and genetic conditions. Can be done between 10 to 12 weeks of pregnancy.
Offered when the baby is suspected of having a genetic abnormality. A sample of amniotic fluid is drawn from the placenta using an ultrasound-guided needle inserted through the abdomen. Performed between weeks 14 and 20 of pregnancy.
Your blood will be drawn and tested for certain proteins that may indicate neutral tube defects such as spina bifida and Down syndrome. Performed between 15 to 19 weeks of pregnancy.
Screens for diabetes during pregnancy. Involves drinking a sugary liquid, followed by a blood draw about an hour later. Performed around 28 weeks.
Duke’s genetic counselors offer all aspects of genetic screening, as necessary, to determine your baby’s risk factors for fetal diseases and chromosomal abnormalities.