What to Expect at (and How to Prepare For) Your Very First Prenatal Care Checkup
August 7, 2015
Your first pre-natal check-up is so exciting – and so important! Monthly visits to your maternity care provider – be she an OB/GYN or Midwife, is the best way to ensure you and your baby remain healthy and happy throughout the duration of your pregnancy. Women who observe recommended prenatal visits have fewer pregnancy and labor complications. Plus, you’ll gain valuable insight into what is going on in your body – and for your baby – month by month, and you’ll receive important nutrition and lifestyle tips that will enhance your physical comfort as well as your health.
It also doesn’t hurt that these routine prenatal visits will help you become more familiar and at ease with the medical professional who is most likely to be there when you are ready to give birth!
The Typical First Pre-Natal Appointment Goes Something Like This…
First, your doctor will want to verify you are pregnant. Home pregnancy tests are pretty accurate but we need to have our own proof. Believe it or not, there are certain physiologic and hormonal conditions that can cause “fake” positives and our urine and blood tests will help to rule those out.
In most cases, we schedule a primary prenatal visit at about the 8 week point, although pre-existing medical conditions may cause us to schedule you a little earlier. In most cases, by the time you actually figure out you are pregnant, you are right around the 8-week point anyway!
If you are already 100% comfortable with your OB/GYN or Midwife, your visits will continue. If you aren’t, or you are on the lookout for the right person to assist you during your pregnancy, labor and delivery – these first prenatal visits should be considered “interviews” for your healthcare provider – so keep that in mind. For example, if a natural labor and delivery is important to you, you will want to look further into your healthcare provider’s rates of interventions and C-sections and see if their philosophies regarding pregnancy and birth align with yours.
Here are some of the things you can expect when you go in for your first visit:
Tests: You will be asked to supply a urine sample as well as a blood sample. In addition to confirming your pregnancy, we want to verify all sorts of things regarding your health. These include:
- Blood counts
- Rh factor and blood type
- Screens for various disease antigens and genetically linked medical conditions
- Specific tests that may be advised depending on your medical history
Your doctor will also be very interested in your vaccination records, medical history and family medical history. If this is your first baby, she may also want to know a little about the pregnancy/delivery histories of your mother and sisters as these can be indicators of what your own story may look like.
Physical exam. This part becomes more and more fun as your uterus grows and you get to see concrete numbers and figures attached to that (not yet) protruding belly. This physical exam will be a little more gentle. Your doctor or midwife will carefully palpate the abdomen and will take a couple of measurements, which helps to track fetal growth. She may also perform a pap smear if you haven’t had one recently. Depending on your lifestyle and medical history, she may also want to take chlamydia and gonorrhea cultures to rule those out.
Pay attention to how you, your belly and your body are spoken to, treated and handled by your doctor or midwife as this is excellent insight into the level of care you’ll receive with you when you deliver. If you don’t feel you’re getting the bedside care and attention you want now, it’s time to begin looking for the right healthcare provider for the rest of your pregnancy and the resulting birth!
Information. Now that all the business is taken care of, you will be provided with a wealth of information regarding first-trimester pregnancy health. This is an opportunity to share how you are feeling and for your doctor to give you pointers.
You will learn about pregnancy nutrition, what foods to eat and what foods to avoid. She may prescribe or recommend particular prenatal supplements. You may receive a little warning about miscarriages, what causes them and what to look for so you can call in ASAP if something seems amiss. She’ll talk about your current exercise habits and make recommendations if there are any changes or modifications you may want to consider – especially as your pregnancy progresses.
Questions/Answers. Hopefully, you will also have plenty of time to ask any questions you may have about pregnancy, labor, relief for pregnancy discomforts and so on. Some important questions to ask include things like:
- Is there a 24-hour nursing line I can call if I have questions or concerns?
- What is considered an emergency and what’s not?
- Which prenatal screening tests do you provide and/or recommend – and when are they performed (this gives you plenty of time to research so you can decide which, if any tests, you want to have done)?
Are you looking for a prenatal care provider who you can trust? One that places women and babies first? Schedule an appointment or consultation with Women’s Health Associates. We would love to meet you and facilitate a healthy, happy pregnancy and labor for you and your baby.