How to Prepare for Your First Prenatal Visit

A pregnant woman at her first prenatal visit

After taking so many home pregnancy tests that you lost count, you’re now sure that you’re pregnant!

Before you pick up your phone to start Googling baby names and baby clothing, use that phone to call your obstetrician or midwife.

Even though your first prenatal visit will probably be around week 8 of your pregnancy, you should notify your health care provider as soon as you find out you’re expecting. This is especially important if your practitioner has long wait times.

If you need help finding a midwife in your area, be sure to check out our virtual services directory.

Here’s what you can expect at your first prenatal visit and three things you should do to prepare.

Know your personal medical history.

Your doctor will want to know about any immunizations, major illnesses, or surgeries you may have had. Your health care provider also will need to know about any allergies. Check your records at home or contact your primary care physician for the necessary information.

If there are any health conditions that run in your or your partner’s family, be sure to share that information with your practitioner as well.

Your mental health history also will be discussed, so if you have a history of depression, anxiety, or other mental health conditions, be prepared to disclose that information.

Your gynecological and obstetrical histories will obviously be discussed, too. The doctor will want to know the age of your first period, details about your cycle, and if you’ve had any STDs or abnormal Pap smears. Details about any previous pregnancies, losses, or deliveries will also need to be discussed.

Your OB or midwife will want to know the names and dosages of any medications, supplements, and vitamins you take, so make a list before you go.

Be prepared for a long visit.

Your first prenatal visit will most likely be the longest one, unless you have complications later in your pregnancy. In addition to a test to confirm pregnancy, you can expect a complete check-up. During this initial visit, you’ll have a general examination to check your heart, lungs, breasts, and abdomen. Your doctor will check your blood pressure and note your height and weight. Your practitioner may check for any varicose veins or swelling, too. You’ll also have a pelvic exam including assessment of the size of your uterus and the size and shape of your pelvis.

You’ll undergo a battery of other tests, too. These tests may include the following:

  • A urine test to check for protein, sugar, white blood cells, blood, and bacteria
  • Bloodwork to check for anemia, immunity to certain diseases like rubella and chickenpox, and vitamin D deficiency
  • Genetic testing to determine if you’re a carrier for genetic conditions like cystic fibrosis, sickle cell anemia, thalassemia, Tay-Sachs disease, and others
  • The CDC recommends that all pregnant women get tested for HIV, hepatitis B virus (HBV), hepatitis C virus (HCV), and syphilis during each pregnancy.
  • A pap smear to screen for abnormal cervical cells
  • A blood sugar test if you or a member of your family have a history of gestational diabetes

Make a list of questions to ask your practitioner.

During your first prenatal visit don’t hesitate to ask your doctor or midwife any questions you may have about your pregnancy. Be sure to ask about what foods to avoid, weight gain, and prenatal vitamins. Talk to your practitioner about common discomforts of early pregnancy and find out what symptoms need immediate medical attention. Ask about restrictions on exercise, travel, and sex during pregnancy, too.

Before you leave, be sure to schedule your next appointment, which will probably be about four weeks after.

Let the journey begin!

Responses

  1. Even before the visit described here… consider having an INTERVIEW visit. Interview a few Medical Professionals so that you can choose the one that’s best for YOU! They are NOT all the same!

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