During your first prenatal visit, your healthcare team will assess your health and the development of your baby, in order to create a plan for the rest of your prenatal care. Keep reading to learn more about what to expect during this appointment and how to prepare for it.
Scheduling your first prenatal visit
The first prenatal visit is typically scheduled around week 8 of pregnancy, or at the latest, before a week 10. It is important to make this appointment as soon as you receive a positive pregnancy test. Getting timely prenatal care is crucial for a healthy pregnancy. If you have a chronic health condition or a history of high-risk pregnancies, you may be able to schedule an earlier appointment. If you are unable to make your first prenatal appointment before week 10, it is still important to schedule one with your healthcare provider as soon as possible, so they can help you plan the rest of your prenatal care.
What to expect during your first prenatal visit
Your first prenatal visit will likely involve a lot of information being shared with you, which can be overwhelming. To help feel more at ease, it can be helpful to do some preparation before the visit. During the appointment, your doctor will perform a physical and pelvic exam, and may also conduct additional tests such as an ultrasound to assess the development of your pregnancy, a Pap smear to check for HPV or abnormal cells, a urine test to check for various substances that could indicate an underlying condition, blood tests to check your hemoglobin levels and blood type, and STD testing to screen for certain infections such as HIV, hepatitis B, chlamydia, and syphilis.
During your first prenatal visit, your healthcare provider will measure your blood pressure, height, and weight, listen to your heart and lungs, check for any medical conditions, and evaluate the size of your uterus and pelvis. These exams will help your healthcare team assess your overall health and the progress of your pregnancy, as well as identify any potential risks. Additional testing may be recommended by your provider if necessary, such as genetic carrier screening to determine if you are a carrier for certain genetic conditions, a blood sugar test if you have a personal or family history of diabetes, or non-invasive prenatal genetic testing to check for certain genetic conditions in the fetus. Your healthcare provider will also ask you about your personal and family medical history, and may ask about your partner's medical history as well.
Preparing for your first prenatal visit
It is important to gather as much information as possible about your own medical history, as well as that of your partner and family, to help your healthcare provider assess any potential risks for your pregnancy, determine your gestational age, and plan your prenatal care. Some of the questions that your doctor may ask include the start date of your last menstrual period, any symptoms you have experienced during early pregnancy, your current medication use, past birth control methods, history of miscarriages or preterm births, allergies, current medical conditions, physical and mental health history, family medical history, use of prenatal supplements, exposure to environmental or work-related hazards, and dietary and nutritional habits. It can be helpful to bring historical documents such as medical records, previous test results, and delivery records to the appointment, but it is okay if you are unable to provide all of this information. Your healthcare team will still be able to provide good prenatal care and screen for potential complications.
What questions should I ask my doctor?
Before your prenatal appointment, it's a good idea for you and your partner to list down any questions that come to your mind. Some common questions that you may want to ask your doctor during your first prenatal appointment:
- Who can I call if I have any questions about my pregnancy?
- When will my next appointment be?
- When is my due date?
- Which prenatal supplements should I be taking?
- Do I need to make changes to my everyday habits and the way I eat?
- What is considered a medical emergency during pregnancy? What should I do in the event of one?
- If further testing was ordered, when will it be carried out, and when and how will I receive the results?
- What are my doctors thoughts on vaginal delivery, cesarean sections, labor induction, and episiotomies?
List down any additional questions you come up with after leaving your prenatal visit so you can bring them to your next visit.