Your first prenatal exam is a joyous occasion. Your first visit to your obstetrician is the most special and important, even though you’ll have many more until your baby is born. Expect this meeting to be the longest one, because you have a lot of bases to cover. If you’re feeling a bit nervous, here are a few things to let you prepare for your prenatal exam:
When to expect your first exam?
As soon as you confirm your pregnancy with a test, you can call your chosen doctor. However, don’t be surprised if they don’t call you in right away. Most doctors choose to schedule their first prenatal visit between six and eight weeks of pregnancy, or during the second month of pregnancy. But, if you had problematic pregnancies before or if you experience any worrying symptoms (pain, bleeding, etc.), insist on seeing your doctor immediately.
No matter when you schedule your first visit, the best thing you can do for your baby is to start acting pregnant as soon as you get a positive test at home. You can start taking vitamins, fixing your diet, avoiding alcohol and smoking and skipping certain foods and exercises at the gym. Many ladies are not comfortable with waiting for their first appointment because they feel their pregnancy might be risky (previous miscarriages, chronic conditions, etc.). If that’s the case with you, see whether you can come in earlier.
After you’ve taken your pregnancy test and started suspecting pregnancy, feel free to start looking for a good obstetrical care specialist to guide your pregnancy. It’s best to choose a healthcare provider with a large selection of prenatal services so you can get all your help in one place. Keep in mind that some doctors can fit you right in and some might require several weeks of waiting, so be prepared.
What kind of questions to expect?
Don’t be surprised if your first prenatal checkup feels a lot like questioning, so come prepared to answer many questions from your doctor, mostly concerning your health, habits, health history, stress levels, etc. To avoid forgetting anything (our brains can stop working in the most crucial of moments), make a list of health factors your doctor needs to know about. Since your practitioner will ask about your medical history, check your records in advance.
To sum it up, you will need to provide answers about your personal medical history—immunization you’ve had, major illnesses in the past, any surgeries, allergies, etc. Your mental history also matters, so mention any brushes with depression, anxiety or other mental disorders. Next, prepare to provide your full gynecological history, such as the age of your first period, your cycle details, PMS and PMDD conditions, surgeries, Pap smear and STD history, etc.
If you have had any previous pregnancies (this includes pregnancy complications, losses, abortions and deliveries), make sure to tell that to your doctor as well. And finally, if you’ve been exposed to any contagious diseases, let’s say during your recent trips or work obligations), mention that for sure. The baby’s father might also want to participate in these questions just to clear any issues on his side.
What kind of tests to expect?
Typically, your doctor will perform a series of tests during your first visit. These differ from visit to visit, but most doctors start with general health exams, which include checking your heart, lungs, breasts and abdomen. You can expect to have your blood pressure measured, noted your height and weight, get examined for varicose veins and swellings, a pelvic exam and an assessment of your uterus and pelvis size and shape.
You can also expect to be ordered to take a urine test to confirm your pregnancy, a blood test to screen for Rh factor, a blood test to confirm your blood type and get your total blood count, and regular Pap smears and tests for STDs. These tests are necessary to mark possible issues and nip them in the bud or keep them in mind for later.
As your baby grows, you might want to perform certain tests for genetic abnormalities—this is optional but recommended. The future visits might be more frequent, but they will be shorter as well. Expect to have one visit per month until you reach your final two months, when your doctor will recommend more frequent visits. After the 36th week, weekly appointments might be the best choice for you and your baby.
Prenatal exams are crucial for your health and the health of your baby. So make sure to prepare well for your first visit and keep up with the schedule and tips your doctor recommends.