Pregnant? 12 Things to Know for Your First Prenatal Visit

A Doctor Tells You What to Expect - and ask - at Your First Appointment

Pregnant? 12 Things to Know for Your First Prenatal Visit

Emotional reactions to a positive pregnancy test tend to be dramatic: whether you’re feeling excited, terrified, shocked (or a combination of all of the above), lukewarm reactions are generally not a thing in this situation.
So take a deep breath. Then pick up the phone to schedule an appointment with your doctor. But before you head to that appointment, read this post. 
At a first prenatal visit, information comes at you at a furious rate. Absorbing that information is made all the more difficult because not only are you dealing with your own emotions, you may be having symptoms (like bone-deep fatigue that makes it hard for you to stay upright in the exam room chair, as an example). Below are six things to expect from your first prenatal visit, and six things to ask.

6 things to expect during your first prenatal visit

The purpose of your first visit is to confirm your pregnancy, estimate your delivery date, determine your general health, and assess if you have any risk factors that may make this a complicated pregnancy. Here are the things that are likely to happen during this visit:
  1. A medical history will be taken, including past health problems, past surgeries, a family history, and a list of your medications (prescription and over-the-counter).
  2. You’ll be asked for the first day of your last menstrual period. This is very important for determining your due date.
  3. A urine test. This will be done at every visit, to check for elevated sugar levels (a sign of gestational diabetes) and high amounts of protein (which can signal a risk for preeclampsia, a specific type of high blood pressure that sometimes occurs in pregnancy).
  4. You will be weighed. Again, your weight will be checked at every prenatal visit, to monitor your baby’s growth. 
  5. Blood pressure. Another thing to be checked every visit, this is critical for screening for pre-eclampsia, as mentioned above.
  6. A physical exam, which may include a pelvic exam. Sometimes the pelvic exam will be done at a subsequent visit instead of this first visit.

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6 Things To Ask During Your First Prenatal Visit

Undoubtedly, you’ll have questions. But you may be so overwhelmed at this first visit, those questions will seem to evaporate from your memory. To help you stay focused, write these questions down or print this off:
  1. Should I be taking prenatal vitamins (and how much/which kind do you recommend?)
  2. Is it normal to be experiencing these symptoms? Is it normal to NOT be experiencing certain symptoms?
  3. What are your recommendations for nutrition, weight gain, and exercise?
  4. Which activities, foods, and substances should I avoid (for example: caffeine, medication, alcohol, sex)?
  5. What can I take for morning sickness and nausea?
  6. Under what circumstances, or for what symptoms, should I call you?


What comes next?

Your doctor should review the plan for your prenatal care—how frequently you need to book your appointments, the schedule for screening. She will probably also send you for routine prenatal bloodwork, and perhaps make arrangements for your first ultrasound. 
Congratulations! And…deep breath again.
Image Source: Wikimedia Commons