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What to Expect at Your First Prenatal Visit

Your doctor provides important peace of mind during your pregnancy. This relationship helps you navigate the physical and emotional changes you experience. Good prenatal care helps promote your health and that of your baby, from the first trimester until the day you deliver.

What to Expect During Your First Prenatal Visit

Many women aren’t sure what to expect from their first OBGYN appointment.

This summary is an overview of what happens at an OBGYN appointment. Reading it through can help put your mind at ease as your pregnancy journey begins.

When is the First Prenatal Visit?

Typically, your first prenatal visit is in your eighth week of pregnancy. You may want to schedule an appointment as soon as you know you are expecting. Your healthcare provider may want to see you before eight weeks gestation if you have an existing medical condition, or symptoms such as vaginal bleeding, nausea or abdominal pain.

When you call to book the visit, tell the clinic about any unusual symptoms, especially if you are meeting the doctor for the first time. That information can help them to decide whether you should come in for an early consultation.

How Should You Prepare?

Arrive with information about your medical history. It’s good to write this down, to make it easier for you to remember. Your healthcare provider wants to know about:

  • Your previous pregnancies;
  • Your previous hospitalizations;
  • Any current or previous sexually transmitted diseases or infections;
  • Any current or previous medical conditions, like high blood pressure, psychiatric diagnoses, or diabetes;
  • Your current medications, vitamins, or other supplements;
  • Your allergies;
  • Your family’s medical history;
  • Your current physical and mental health;
  • The date of your last menstrual period.

But the conversation should go both ways. As part of your preparation, write down your questions for the OB/GYN:

  • How does pregnancy affect exercise and sexual activity?
  • What changes can I expect in my physical and mental health?
  • What is an emergency?
  • Who can I call for general questions between visits?
  • Can I travel during my pregnancy?
  • What happens during labor? When might you perform a Cesarean?
  • How do you feel about natural childbirth?
  • When do you want to schedule my next visit?

There are a number of issues that are important to you. Many may not be on this list. You should feel free to ask them all during this visit.

What Questions Will the Doctor Ask?

Your provider should want to discuss a few different issues about your background and your current pregnancy. She may ask if you have any mental health concerns or stress in your home life. It is common for an OB/GYN to talk about activities that pose particular hazards for pregnant women, like eating certain foods or exposure to toxic environments. She may ask about your leisure activities or hobbies, and recommend changes to those activities if appropriate.

What Tests Will the Doctor Perform?

You can expect your first prenatal visit will involve a pelvic exam, including a pap smear and cervical exam. Your provider will also assess your uterus and pelvis, in order to anticipate any problems during delivery. The doctor should look at the rest of your body as well, from head to toe.

The provider or nurse will also take your blood pressure, listen to your heart and lungs, and note your current weight and height. They will take blood. These blood tests let your healthcare provider know if you have any diseases like HIV or Hepatitis C, and screen for anemia. Depending on your family history, there may also be blood tests for some genetic conditions.

You may or may not have an ultrasound. Not every woman needs one at this stage, although an ultrasound is usually done in the first trimester. An ultrasound is part of first prenatal visit testing if you have cramping or bleeding, or if you are not sure how far along you are in your pregnancy. If an ultrasound is important to you, ask your provider when she recommends performing one.

Get Your Questions Answered at Intermountain Healthcare

Knowing what to expect at your first prenatal visit may not resolve all of your questions. Pregnancy comes with many unknowns. By choosing to participate in quality care, you are making sure you and your baby have the supportive medical team you both need.

In our efforts to raise the bar in women’s health, we established OB/GYN hospitalist programs throughout the Las Vegas Valley to ensure that one of our caring providers is available to our patients 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Call 702-852-9000 or use our online request form to schedule your appointment today.

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