ANNOUNCER: Hearing the baby's heart beat can be a magical moment for a mom-to-be. It's also part of good prenatal care.
SUZANNE LAJOIE, MD, OBSTETRICIAN GYNECOLOGIST: The first ultrasound is usually done at about seven weeks and that's the ultrasound that's important in dating the pregnancy. And, usually, that's when you can see the fetal heartbeat for the first time, so, yeah, that's very exciting moment
ANNOUNCER: Figuring out the due date is only one of the key issues in those early visits.
SUZANNE LAJOIE, MD, OBSTETRICIAN GYNECOLOGIST: If testing hasn't been done, that's the time to do some lab work. The screening for Down syndrome is done at the end of the first trimester. We talk about previous pregnancies. We talk about family history. We talk about infectious history, screening for HIV and syphilis and hepatitis, STDs, herpes.
ANNOUNCER: In addition to the mom's health, the doctor will also keep an eye on the baby's growth.
SUZANNE LAJOIE, MD, OBSTETRICIAN GYNECOLOGIST: We look at blood pressure and weight gain and we measure the baby to see that the uterus is growing properly. You want to make sure that a woman's getting the proper nutrients. And if there is lack of weight gain, that can be associated with a low birth-weight baby. And the whole point of prenatal care is to have a healthy full-term baby.
ANNOUNCER: When it comes to alcohol, Dr. LaJoie says there is no safe amount during pregnancy.
SUZANNE LAJOIE, MD, OBSTETRICIAN GYNECOLOGIST: I think a lot of women think that they can drink, too, like once in a while. And -- and when I tell them no, I just get a look. But it's just -- there's no safe level. I mean, I -- you know, I think just -- it's the safest to avoid it for nine months.
ANNOUNCER: Exercise, on the other hand, is encouraged for most women.
SUZANNE LAJOIE, MD, OBSTETRICIAN GYNECOLOGIST: After the first trimester, usually we recommend that women don't do exercises flat on their back. So we, you know, do a few little adjustments, but, for the most part, we encourage women to exercise during pregnancy.
ANNOUNCER: Taking care of her health is one of the best gifts a mom-to-be can give to her baby. Thanks for joining us on today's Once Daily.