See Your Doctor

Early & Regular Prenatal Care

Regular checkups with your doctor while you’re pregnant is called prenatal care.  Prenatal care should begin as soon as you know you are pregnant.  Prenatal care keeps you and your developing baby healthy during your pregnancy.  During your check-ups you may be seen by your doctor, nurse practitioner (NP), midwife, or a physician’s assistant (PA).

Early prenatal care will help your doctor to identify and manage potential health risks or issues early to reduce complications.  Your doctor should schedule more prenatal check ups throughout your pregnancy and provide resources to guide you through this exciting time.

Discuss your delivery hospital options with your doctor.  Certain hospitals are designated to provide services for high-risk pregnancies, complicated deliveries, and intensive newborn care.

If you think you are pregnant, see a doctor as soon as possible.  If you need help finding a doctor for your pregnancy, call 2-1-1 OC or the Orange County Health Referral Line at (800) 564-8448.

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In Orange County, there are public and community programs that can offer support through home visiting services during your pregnancy. For more information and eligibility criteria, call the Orange County Health Referral Line at (800) 564-8448 or 2-1-1.


Warning Signs

Preterm Labor

Preterm labor is labor that begins before 37 weeks of pregnancy, before your baby is fully developed.

Warning Signs of Preterm Labor

  • Bad stomach pain or cramps
  • Throwing up often or nausea
  • Fever or chills
  • Severe or sudden headaches
  • Swelling of face or hands
  • Vision change (blurred, seeing spots, flashes)
  • Bleeding or cramping
  • Your baby is moving less than normal

Call your doctor, 911, or go to a hospital immediately if you think you are having preterm labor, or if you have any warning signs. Babies born too early can have serious and life-threatening health problems.


Preeclampsia is a serious pregnancy condition that causes high blood pressure and other health issues for you and your baby, including preterm labor. Your doctor will check for this condition during each of your prenatal check-ups.

Signs and symptoms of preeclampsia include:

  • Severe headaches
  • Changes in vision, (blurred, seeing spots, flashes, light sensitivity)
  • Pain in the upper right belly area or pain in the shoulder
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Dizziness
  • Sudden weight gain (2 to 5 pounds in a week)
  • Swelling in the legs, hands, and face
  • Trouble breathing

If you develop any of these symptoms, call your doctor now or call 911.

Cardiac (Heart) Disease

Certain heart conditions can negatively impact your health and pregnancy. If you have heart a condition or are concerned about your heart health, tell your doctor.


Some infections, including sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and urinary tract infections (UTIs), can negatively impact your health and the health of your baby. It is important to discuss prevention, testing and treatment options with your doctor during your prenatal visits.

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Vaccines are shots that protect you and your baby from dangerous diseases. Vaccines you get during pregnancy also help protect your baby from serious diseases during the first few months of life. Not all vaccines are safe to get during pregnancy. Talk to your doctor about which vaccines are appropriate during pregnancy.


Dental Care

Dental or oral health is about your teeth and gums. It is an important part of your overall health during pregnancy. Poor dental health has been linked to pregnancy issues that could affect your baby like low birthweight and premature birth. Changes in your body during pregnancy make dental health problems more likely. If you experience any changes in your gums or teeth, including soreness, loose teeth, or bad breath, call your doctor. If you need assistance finding a dentist, call 211.


Some parents have genetic health conditions that can be passed on to their children.

If you are pregnant, talk to your doctor about health concerns or health conditions in your family to understand your risks. Your doctor may suggest that you talk with a genetic counselor. Genetic counselors can explain the chances of having a baby with a genetic condition in more detail.



Many pregnant women take some form of prescription medication during pregnancy, often for conditions like high blood pressure or diabetes. Some prescription drugs can have harmful effects on your baby, including low birth weight, birth defects, miscarriage and more.

If you are pregnant, it’s important to speak to your doctor as soon as possible about the medications you take and whether they are safe for your baby.

Calcium intake of 1200-1500 mg is recommended. Talk to your doctor about your daily Calcium needs.

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Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) are infections you can get by having sex even once with someone who is infected. STIs include chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, and HIV. STIs are common, and they can cause complications during your pregnancy.

If untreated, some STIs, like syphilis, can cause permanent harm to your baby. Most STIs can be prevented. Talk to your doctor if you have questions or think you have an STI.

All pregnant women should be screened for Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) infection as early as possible during each pregnancy. Talk with your doctor about your test results. If you have HIV, early medical treatment for HIV can help you stay well. It also may help prevent HIV from being passed to the baby during pregnancy.



People can be infected with Zika virus most commonly by the bite of an infected mosquito. Zika can also be passed through sex from a person who has Zika to his or her partners.

Once infected, Zika can be passed from a pregnant woman to her fetus. Zika infection occurring anytime during pregnancy can cause certain serious birth defects and loss of the pregnancy.

There is no medicine or vaccine to prevent Zika. If you are pregnant, avoid travel to areas where there is a risk of exposure to Zika virus. If you travel to (or live in) an area with risk of Zika, talk to your doctor first, practice safe sex, and follow strict steps to prevent mosquito bites. Talk with your doctor if you are pregnant and think you have been exposed to Zika. Depending on the exposure, your doctor may recommend Zika testing during your pregnancy.

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