Pregnancy is one of the most exhilarating times — and one of the most important medical events — of your life. But whether you’re expecting your first child or your fourth, you want nothing less than excellent care with an experienced OB/GYN. Dr. Zerline Chambers-Kersey is committed to providing personalized, family-centered care, helping her patients in each stage of pregnancy, labor and delivery, and through the postpartum period. She serves moms-to-be in the Prince William County area from her practice in Dumfries, Virginia. Call or book your appointment online today.

Pregnancy Q & A

What are the stages of pregnancy?

A normal pregnancy lasts 40 weeks, beginning at the first day of your last regular menstrual cycle. It’s separated into three trimesters that correspond to the general stages of fetal development.

First trimester

During the first 12 weeks of pregnancy, important hormonal changes influence nearly every system of your body. These changes are responsible for both stopping your menstrual cycle and causing a variety of early symptoms, including:

  • Extreme fatigue and mood swings
  • Tender, swollen breasts
  • Morning sickness and aversion to certain smells
  • Food cravings or repulsions
  • Frequent urination and constipation

Second trimester

From weeks 13-28 of your pregnancy, your initial symptoms may disappear. As your baby grows bigger, you may start to experience lower back pain, swelling, and other symptoms related to weight gain and blood volume increase.

Third trimester

From week 29 until you deliver, your baby continues to grow larger every day, leaving less room for your lungs, bladder, and other internal organs. Many women experience shortness of breath and the urge to urinate throughout the third trimester.

What does routine prenatal care include?

Prenatal care usually begins with a positive pregnancy test. To confirm your pregnancy and establish a due date, Dr. Chambers-Kersey performs an extensive health exam including a pelvic exam and an ultrasound.

As your pregnancy progresses, you’ll have routine ultrasound screenings and other tests to monitor your and your baby’s progression. Routine screenings include:

  • Tests to determine your blood type and Rh factor
  • Hepatitis B and C screenings
  • Sexually transmitted infection screenings
  • Glucose screening test (to check for gestational diabetes)
  • Fetal health screening tests

Regular prenatal checkups occur once a month through the end of the second trimester, twice a month during weeks 28-36, and once weekly thereafter until delivery.

Dr. Chambers-Kersey delivers at Sentara Northern Virginia Medical Center in Woodbridge.

What is a high-risk pregnancy?

A high-risk pregnancy may mean that you or your baby require special monitoring or care throughout your pregnancy, or it may mean that you’re more likely to have medical challenges before, during, or after delivery.

A few of the factors that qualify a pregnancy as high risk include:

  • Pregnancy over the age of 35
  • Having a chronic condition like diabetes or hypertension
  • Having a history of miscarriage or premature delivery

To provide high-risk patients with the best possible care, Dr. Chambers-Kersey works with a maternal fetal medicine (MFM) specialist. MFM experts are trained to help limit complications for the best possible outcome.