What To Expect At Your First Prenatal Appointment
Your first prenatal appointment can be overwhelming and stressful. Being prepared and knowing what to expect before your appointment can take a lot of the stress away. In this article, we will discuss when to schedule your appointment, how to prepare, and what to expect at your first prenatal appointment.
When To Schedule Your First Prenatal Appointment
As soon as you get that positive pregnancy test you should be scheduling your first prenatal appointment. Prenatal care is a vital step to experience a healthy pregnancy and delivering a healthy baby.
Your first prenatal visit is typically scheduled for the second month of your pregnancy when you are between 6 and 8 weeks of pregnancy. This is usually shortly after you first discover you are pregnant. Try to schedule an appointment soon after your at-home pregnancy test. Many practitioners will be able to fit you in relatively quickly while others may have a waiting period.
Between the time you get an at-home positive result and when you are scheduled to go to the doctor, be sure you are taking as many necessary precautions as you can. If you believe you are likely to experience a high-risk pregnancy make sure you try to schedule an appointment as soon as possible.
Who To Book For An Appointment
You and your partner will need to determine what type of healthcare professional you would like to use. If you choose to use a midwife you can typically book an appointment directly with them. You should consult with your general practitioner to make sure you are eligible to use a midwife. If you are going to use an OB/GYN you may need to get a referral from your general practitioner first. Sometimes you can book an appointment directly with the OB/GYN.
How to Prepare For Your First Prenatal Appointment
Once you have scheduled an appointment you will want to prepare for your first prenatal visit. There are many questions you may have and there are many questions you will need to answer at your first appointment. In order to have a smooth and quick appointment, you will want to have prepared beforehand. For your first prenatal appointment bring
- A list of medicines/supplements. Some medications and supplements are not safe to take during your pregnancy. You will want a full list of all medicines that you take on a daily basis including their dosages. These medicines may need to be changed in order for you to have a safe pregnancy.
- Comprehensive medical history. Make sure you have your full medical history - including your gynecological history, immunization history, allergies, previous illnesses, surgeries mental health history, obstetrical history, and even potential disease exposure. This information can affect the risk of your pregnancy and it is important for your practitioner to know.
- Comprehensive family medical history. Make sure you have a list of illnesses that run in your family as this can also affect the health of your baby. This can include genetic disorders, a history of gestational diabetes, or hypertension. This goes for both sides of the family.
- Come with questions. As you go through your day be sure to keep a list of questions that run through your head. This can include questions such as
- How much weight should I gain?
- Is it safe to exercise?
- What symptoms should I expect?
- Are there symptoms I should tell you about?
- What foods should I avoid?
Having all of this information prior to your visit will ease your mind and will make your visit run smoothly.
What Will Happen At The First Prenatal Appointment
So, you have scheduled the appointment and you have prepared for the appointment now the day is finally here. What can you expect? Well, there is going to be a lot going on. Your first prenatal visit is typically the one that takes the longest.
Your practitioner will perform a normal check up on you. This includes taking your vitals, examining your heart, lungs, breasts, and abdomen, and taking your height and weight. Your doctor will also look at your uterus and check the size and shape of your pelvis.
Confirmation Of Pregnancy Test Results
Even though you have gotten a positive pregnancy test at home your practitioner will perform another pregnancy test at your appointment. They will typically do this through a urine test or a blood test.
Series Of Tests
Besides the pregnancy test, your practitioner will perform a series of other tests as well. This will require your blood to be taken so they can check for STDs, check your blood sugar, check for anemia, and screen for antibodies. These tests can help the doctor determine how to proceed with your pregnancy and the medications you may need.
Besides the blood test, your practitioner will also take blood for a genetic carrier screening. This examines your DNA for any common genetic conditions such as cystic fibrosis, sickle cell anemia, Tay-Sachs disease, etc. They may also offer a test for fetal abnormalities to screen the baby for genetic abnormalities such as Down syndrome.
Your practitioner will also likely perform a pap smear - unless you have already had one recently. This can also help them examine your cervix and your uterus for the age of the pregnancy.
Finally, your practitioner will likely perform an ultrasound to check on the baby.
Official Due Date
Your practitioner will calculate the day that you conceived and they will give you your official due date.
End of Visit
At the end of the visit, your practitioner will sit you down and discuss what to expect for the rest of your pregnancy. They will talk about any testing that may need to be done. Your practitioner will talk about the importance of eating well, exercising, and avoiding substances. They will recommend prenatal vitamins, give you the necessary medications, and advise you on how to stay healthy and safe during your pregnancy. Finally, they will talk to you about what you can expect and they will warn you about the symptoms you may experience. This is a great time to pull out your list of questions and discuss any concerns you may have.
Your Next Prenatal Appointment
After your first prenatal appointment, you will be asked to schedule a follow-up appointment with your physician. This will typically take place 4 weeks after your first appointment. As you get closer to your due date your physician will recommend classes or groups you can join to prepare for the arrival of your baby. They may also begin to discuss postpartum care and what you can expect.
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