Prenatal Care: Your First Visit
When you know you are pregnant or think you might be, it’s time to call your healthcare provider and begin regular prenatal care. These appointments are important! Your doctor or midwife can answer your questions, calm your fears, and spot any potential problems at these visits. If anything unusual arises, early detection and treatment means better outcomes for you and your baby.
What to Expect at Your First Visit
At your first visit, bring all your questions and be prepared to cover a lot of ground with your provider. Expect to . . .
#1 Talk about your medical history. Your health care provider will most likely ask about your menstrual cycle, gynecological history, and any past pregnancies. You might also discuss your family medical history. Bring a list of prescriptions, over-the-counter medicines, and supplements you are taking. Some of these might not be safe during pregnancy, so be sure to review at your first visit.
#2 Establish an estimated date of delivery. (The key word there is “estimated” as very few women have their baby exactly on their due date.) Ready for some math? Your provider will use the date of your last period, add seven days, and count back three months, giving a date about 40 weeks from the first day of your last period. This estimated date helps to track pregnancy milestones, monitor baby’s growth, and schedule tests.
#3 Have a physical exam and blood work. At every visit, including the first one, you can expect a check of your blood pressure and weight. Your health care provider may also calculate your body mass index on this first visit to help gauge your recommended weight gain. Expect a physical exam, including breast exam, pelvic exam, and a check of your heart and lungs. Initial blood work at this visit will confirm your blood type, measure your hemoglobin, detect any infections that might impact your or your baby, and determine your Rh status (Rhesus factor relates to a protein found on red blood cells).
#4 Discuss lifestyle issues. This is also a time to talk about nutrition, prenatal, vitamins, exercise, sex, vaccinations, travel, and the safety of your work and work environment during pregnancy. If you have any significant changes you need to make, like stopping smoking or using alcohol, you can ask your healthcare provider for suggestions on how to do this.
#5 Receive information about future screening tests. Your provider can tell you about genetic and other tests available to you.
The key to these visits is to be open with your concerns and ask all your questions!
Going forward, you will have one prenatal visit every four weeks until you hit about week 28-30, then every two weeks. In the final weeks of pregnancy, expect a visit a week until delivery! That might sound like a lot of visits, but each one lets you know that you are one step closer to holding that baby!
As you make these very important visits, you might enjoy Tennessee Family Doulas Pregnancy Week-by-Week email series, full of great information and encouragement. Subscribe today!