Prenatal care and pregnancy go hand-in-hand. For a healthy pregnancy, prenatal care is important. According to the American Pregnancy Association, your first prenatal visit will occur sometime around your 8th week of pregnancy following your last menstrual period. But, the minute you find out you’re pregnant, you should schedule this very important first visit to your doctor or obstetrician-gynecologist (OB-GYN).
What to Expect During Your First Prenatal Visit
What happens during your prenatal visit depends on how far along you are. Doctors typically don’t schedule prenatal visits any earlier than the 8th week. An exception to this is if you’ve had complications in previous pregnancies, you have a current health condition or you’re experiencing symptoms like stomach pain, spotting, bleeding or severe nausea and vomiting.
Some OB-GYNs schedule a “pre-OB” visit. This appointment isn’t a comprehensive and lengthy as your first prenatal checkup. Rather, its goal is primarily to confirm that you are in fact pregnant.
Your first prenatal appointment will be a long and comprehensive one. Your OB-GYN confirms you are pregnant, determines the date you’re due and evaluates your overall health. They’ll also determine if you have any risk factors that could impact your pregnancy.
During your visit, the OB will go over your medical history with you and find out things like:
- Psychosocial or/and medical problems
- Birth control methods
- History of miscarriages or abortions
- LMP (last menstrual period)
- Family medical history
- Medication allergies
- Medications you’re taking
Be sure to ask all of your questions. This is the time to ask them. Have them written down beforehand since the first prenatal visit can be exciting and you may forget the questions that have kept you up all night. They’ll address any concerns you may have (remember that list of questions?) and give you plenty of information that you may want to take notes for.
Your OB-GYN will get more information about you to ensure they provide you with the best possible care. They’ll give you advice and instructions on how to not only care for your growing baby, but also yourself. They will likely give you a prescription for prenatal vitamins and advise you on the types of foods to eat and not eat.
You’ll likely have a blood & urine test to test for:
- Rh factor
- Blood type
- Hepatitis B
- Protein and Sugar levels
- Potential infections
Your OB will give you a pelvic exam and pap smear to check your:
- Fallopian tubes
This thorough exam helps your OB evaluate your uterus size to compare it with the date of your last menstrual period and see if your pregnancy is properly progressing.
They’ll take your blood pressure, height and weight and give you a breast exam.
They may use a special tool referred to as a Doppler to listen to the fetus’s heartbeat. If it’s before your 10th week of pregnancy, however, they may not be able to detect the heartbeat yet. The OB may give you an ultrasound during your visit to check for the baby’s heartbeat and verify your due date.
Using the due date, your OB can measure the fetus’s growth and your pregnancy progress. The due date will also help the OB set certain times for essential testing that are required during certain intervals of your pregnancy.
While it’s still early, your OB-GYN might discuss your thoughts on delivery. For instance, how do you feel about natural childbirth or Cesarean?
Your first prenatal visit may be both stressful and exciting. With all the prodding, poking and testing, you may be nervous. But, keeping regular prenatal visits with your OB-GYN throughout your pregnancy ensure your health as well as your baby’s. You’ll also be able to follow your baby’s development.