Preparing for your first prenatal appointment? Here’s what you should expect on your first visit!
First of all, congratulations on your pregnancy, mama! Finding out you’re pregnant is one of the most exciting moments ever. It’s absolutely incredible to discover there is a little life growing on the inside of you.
Nine months sure can seem like forever when you’re pregnant. But challenges and all, the journey is nothing short of amazing.
If this is your first child, knowing what to expect at your first doctor’s visit can help ease your mind and enable you to prepare better, mama.
Let me share what will go on at your first visit.
How to Prepare
Why Is Prenatal Care Important?
Let me start by saying that prenatal care is the best option for mothers and their babies. Even if you’re not a new first-time mother, receiving early prenatal care will give you and your baby the best health advantages.
Your doctor will be able to assess health risks to you and your baby as well as test for diseases that could harm both of you. You’ll also receive vital information about how to best care for yourself throughout your pregnancy.
I wish I’d known before my first prenatal appointment that it wasn’t going to be a quick in-and-out type of visit. I soon realized it can take longer than a speedy 20 minutes. Your first appointment will be the longest, so keep that in mind when you schedule it.
When Should You Have Your First Visit?
Typically, most women have their first prenatal appointment during the first 6-8 weeks of pregnancy. Not because that’s the earliest (or most ideal) time to go. It just can take a few weeks for a woman to catch on to the fact that she’s got a little one growing inside of her!
It’s best to see a doctor as soon as possible after discovering you’re pregnant. If you even suspect you’re pregnant or you and your partner are trying to conceive, see an OBGYN doctor as soon as possible. .
The early stages of your pregnancy are extremely important. Getting early prenatal care could make a huge difference in preventing spina bifida or other life altering health conditions for your baby.
You also lower your chances of harming your baby by continuing to smoke or consume alcohol.
How Long Does It Take?
Honestly, this may be the longest doctor’s appointment you’ll have throughout your pregnancy. That is, until you actually give birth!
Now that you’re pregnant, there are two lives to consider-yours and baby’s. The intake process, waiting time, tests, questions, and examinations all contribute to the lengthy first visit.
However, each future visit shouldn’t be quite as long.
What Should I Bring?
Here are some things you should bring with you:
- Questions you have for your doctor or midwife
- Your health insurance card
- Your ID or driver’s license
- Know what medications you are taking as well as what health conditions run in your family and your partner’s. This will be helpful to your doctor.
What to Expect
Your nurse will start by gathering your in-depth background information. You’ll be asked a bunch of questions, some of which include the following:
- Questions about your health history and medical conditions in your family
- Do you feel safe in your home? (domestic violence questions)
- Lifestyle choices (do you smoke or consume drugs or alcohol?)
- When was the first day of your last menstrual cycle?
- Have you had any miscarriages? (if so, how many? When?)
- How many living children do you have?
- What medications are you taking (if any)?
- Have you had any sexually transmitted diseases? If so, which ones? How long ago? Were you treated?
- Do you have any allergies to medications?
- Are you on birth control? Would you like more information on birth control options?
- Do you ever feel hopeless or worried? Do you have trouble sleeping? Have you been diagnosed with depression? (mental health questions)
All that for a baby checkup?! I know it sounds like a lot, but it’s necessary for your doctor to have an accurate understanding of your background so they can offer you the best care, mama.
Your mental, physical, spiritual, and emotional health affects your baby. Anything that hinders that should be addressed.
Give a Urine Sample
You’ll be asked to pee in a cup so the lab can test for a few things. So drink lots of water before you go!
Your urine will be tested for a few different things:
- Bladder infection
- Kidney disease
- Sugar and protein levels
- White blood cells
- It will also be used to confirm your pregnancy!
Due Date Confirmation
If you took a home pregnancy test, chances are you’ve already calculated your expected delivery date. I went online to see what month and day I was due. I couldn’t wait for the doctor to tell me, I just had to know! 🙂
Either way, your doctor will confirm the due date for your baby based on the information you give about your last menstrual cycle.
A Basic Health Exam
Your doctor is going to perform a basic exam on you. A lot of which will be assessed each time you come in for a visit.
Some aspects involved in your exam will be:
- Listening to your lungs and heartbeat
- Examining your breasts
- Feeling your abdomen
- Measuring your height and weight
- Taking your vitals
- Addressing any personal concerns you may have
Hear Baby’s Heartbeat
This is perhaps one of the first things that will cause you to feel really connected to your baby (since you won’t be able to feel kicks for several months).
Hearing your baby’s heartbeat makes your heart melt and gives you the reassurance that there surely is a living person in there. It’s amazing!
Speak with your Doctor
This is the time to really get to know your doctor (or midwife). It’s the beginning of a relationship with the person that will be caring for you and baby for the remainder of your pregnancy.
You’ll want to make sure it’s a good fit. Does his or her ethical views and beliefs closely reflect yours? Are they taking the time to get to know you and what’s important to you over time? Are they enthusiastic about labor, deliveries, health, and…BABIES? Or do they seem to just show up for work and do just enough to get the job done?
Is this person attentive to your needs and helpful in offering advice, suggestions or information to help you? Does this person take an interest in who you are as a person (not just a random patient)?
Choose a care provider that makes you feel not only comfortable, but happy! After all, you have to show up and be under their care for the next nine months. If it’s not a good experience, you’ll start to dread your doctor’s appointments.
Your doctor will go over some important Dos and Don’ts to ensure you keep yourself and baby healthy.
Growing a little human requires you change some of your habits, mama. Some mothers have to make more changes than others to keep baby healthy. It all depends on your current living choices. Here are a few topics you’ll discuss:
- Travel limitations
- Dietary restrictions (raw meat, high mercury fish, undercooked meat…)
- Avoid cat litter/cat urine
- Prenatal vitamins
- Suitable dental care
- Preventing miscarriage
- Getting proper nutrition
- Safe medications
- Healthy weight gain
Since this is your first appointment, you may only be able to think of a couple questions. It can be helpful to have a list of additional questions that you know you’ll need answers to.
If you think of more questions, just add them to this list!
- Is there a 24-hour nurse line I can call if I have questions?
- What should I do if I experience bleeding or cramping?
- What medications are safe to take, and which ones should be avoided? (aches and pain, constipation…)
- Who do I call if I have questions or concerns?
- Are there any restrictions when it comes to exercising or having sex?
- What should I look for in a prenatal vitamin? Which brands do you recommend?
- Which hospital(s) do you deliver at?
- What will you be testing for? Why? How and when will I be notified of the results?
- Which doctor or midwife will be delivering my baby?
- If I pass my due date, at what point will there be intervention to deliver my baby?
- What are your thoughts on natural childbirth?
- Are the majority of the babies you deliver born vaginally or by cesarean? Why?
- Why would a cesarean be necessary?
- How much weight should I gain throughout my pregnancy?
Pelvic Exam with Pap Smear
And then there’s the vaginal exam! Okay…maybe it’s not all that exciting. But necessary? Yes.
Your doctor will perform a pelvic exam that’ll include a pap smear. The pelvic exam will be done to test for abnormal cells in your cervix, uterus, or vagina.
It’s mandatory that doctors test for Group B Strep as well during your pregnancy, but that won’t happen usually until week 35-37 of your pregnancy.
You’ll also get a blood draw, mama. Afterwards, your blood sample will be sent to the laboratory for testing.
Depending on where you receive care, your doctor may give you a referral to have your blood drawn at a local hospital or testing center.
Dehydration and blood draws really don’t go well together. Patients with a “good vein” make the nurses job a lot much easier. So make sure you drink lots of water before your appointment (not just 10 minutes before your blood draw).
After they’ve collected your sample, the results will be sent over to your doctor’s office.
It’s fascinating how you can tell so much about a person by their blood. Your blood will be tested for the following:
- Gestational diabetes
- RH factor and blood type
- Hemoglobin levels
- Cystic fibrosis
- Sexually transmitted diseases (such as Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C, Gonorrhea, Syphilis, Chlamydia, and HIV). These infections can be passed on to your baby if not treated.
Schedule Your Next Appointment
After you’re done with all of that..you can head to the front desk to schedule your next prenatal appointment (which shouldn’t take as long!).
Scheduling your next visit before you leave is so much easier than having to remember to check your calendar and call the office back later.
Note: If your doctor has written you a prescription, just remember to get it filled at the location you specified with the nurse. Especially your prenatal vitamins, mama!
Start a Healthy Pregnancy Journey
Congratulations on your pregnancy! Now you have a pretty good idea of what to expect at your first prenatal visit.
You and baby’s health is extremely important. The manner in which you care for yourself throughout your pregnancy will directly impact the health of your baby who is growing and forming with each passing day.
So make sure to get regular prenatal checkups and take good care of yourself, mama. The health of your baby starts with you!
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