When that pregnancy test came back positive, your mind probably started racing with plans for what’s next.
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But before we pick a crib or discuss daycare, remember that pregnancy is a marathon, not a sprint. So take a seat, grab a sip of water, and take a deep breath.
Now, one of your next tasks is to connect with health care providers such as obstetricians and midwives to initiate prenatal care. Frequent prenatal visits can help you and your provider ensure healthy fetal development and a healthy pregnancy.
And your first prenatal appointment is your chance to get answers to questions that have been running through your head ever since the second line appeared on the stick. It’s your first chance to see how your pregnancy is progressing and plan for the months ahead.
We spoke with CNM’s Kellann Gaines-El Hunter, a certified nurse midwife, about her first pregnancy visit, so she knows what to expect and how to prepare.
When should I book my first prenatal checkup?
No reason to wait. Call your healthcare provider as soon as you have a positive at-home pregnancy test to get the ball rolling to begin pregnancy care.
You can expect them to want to see you for their first prenatal appointment between 8 and 10 weeks after the first day of their last menstrual period. (This will probably be one of the first questions they ask, so knowing when your last period started is helpful. I hope to see you soon.)
“If you call your gynecologist or midwife and tell them you had a positive pregnancy test, they may ask you about your health and medical history,” says Gaines El-Hunter. If you haven’t taken yet, you can use that first call to get the kinds of recommendations they offer. You can also ask other pressing questions.”
But don’t feel like you have to cram all the questions the first time. You will have enough time for that during the interview. Use your initial contact with the provider’s office to get the information you need to take care of yourself until your appointment.
What Happens at Your First Prenatal Checkup
Your health care provider may respond differently depending on your health and progress, but a typical first pregnancy appointment includes asking you questions, taking some tests, and asking you questions. includes time to
“Each provider may have a slightly different approach, but in general, you should visit your provider regularly during your pregnancy to make sure you are doing well and that your baby is developing properly. A prenatal visit is your chance to catch problems as early as possible,” said Gaines-El Hunter.
Here are some ideas for what else might happen during your first appointment.
During your first prenatal visit, it is expected that your provider will ask you to step on the scale to track your weight. They will also get your height on file. They will also take your temperature and blood pressure. .
You can expect your provider to request a urine sample at your first prenatal visit (and at each subsequent appointment).
They will test your urine to confirm pregnancy, test your kidney function, look for protein in your urine, and more.
Your provider will likely need to take blood as part of your first prenatal visit. better understand the
During your first trimester, your provider will check your blood to determine your blood type and look for signs of:
Your healthcare provider can expect to ask you a few questions about your health and biological family history in order to tailor prenatal care to your needs.
“The more we know about your health and family medical history on both sides, the better we can care for you and ensure healthy fetal development during pregnancy. It doesn’t matter if you don’t know all the details about the disease or condition, any information you can provide will be helpful.
Your provider may ask questions such as:
- When was the first day of your last period?
- Is this your first pregnancy?
- Have you ever had a miscarriage or gynecological disease?
- Do you have a history of serious medical conditions such as lung disease or heart disease?
- Do you know any genetic conditions that may affect you or your unborn child?
- Do you smoke, use e-cigarettes, overdose alcohol, or use recreational drugs?
- What medicine are you currently taking?
- Did you have any concerns?
Pelvic and breast examination
Your healthcare provider will ask you to personally undress and put on a hospital gown for the chest and pelvic exam. (This is also a smart idea for future prenatal appointments. Changing into a gown is fairly standard for prenatal visits.)
Your donor will check your breasts for signs of lumps or swelling.
A pelvic exam is also performed to check the health of the vagina, uterus, ovaries, fallopian tubes, and cervix. They may also do a Pap smear or swab of the cervix to look for abnormalities and test for sexually transmitted diseases and infections such as:
Depending on the course of your pregnancy, your provider may perform a transvaginal ultrasound during your first prenatal visit. This is a test that uses a kind of “stick” that is inserted into the vagina. It uses sound waves to project real-time images onto the screen.
A transvaginal ultrasound allows the doctor to make sure the pregnancy is progressing well and to determine how advanced the pregnancy is.
If your first prenatal appointment is later in your pregnancy, about 10 or 12 weeks or later, your doctor may use conventional ultrasound or Doppler to check the fetal heartbeat. Earlier than that, the fetal heartbeat may be too faint to be detected by these devices.
Due date calculation
Your healthcare provider will calculate your due date based on the first day of your last period, your ultrasound, and other factors.
A normal period is estimated to be 280 days after the first day of your last period. That’s 40 weeks or about 10 months. However, if your periods are irregular or your cycle is not 28 days, your due date may differ from the standard 280 day rule.
Due dates help indicate a timeframe in which you can expect delivery, but Gaines El-Hunter explains that due dates are not meant to be taken literally.
“Since full-term pregnancies last between 37 and 42 weeks, the actual delivery date can differ significantly from the expected delivery date.”
Very few babies are actually born on their due date. Consider this as a guideline for: Might be so Go into labor instead of endless deadlines.
prenatal care plan
If possible, it’s a good idea to schedule future prenatal visits before you leave your first appointment. That way, your calendar will be marked so you can make the necessary arrangements in advance.
The schedule for antenatal care depends on your special circumstances and risk factors. In general, we recommend conducting follow-up visits as follows:
- Every 4 weeks until 28 weeks of gestation.
- Every 2 to 3 weeks from 28 to 36 weeks of gestation.
- Every week from 36 weeks until birth.
Questions to ask at your first prenatal checkup
You may have a lot of things on your mind when you meet with your provider. Gaines El-Hunter recommends writing down any questions and bringing them with you at his first prenatal visit.
General questions to get started:
- Is it okay to continue taking the medicine I am taking now?
- What prenatal vitamins do you recommend?
- What changes should I make in my diet?
- Can I keep working out (or start a new fitness routine)?
- What are the signs and symptoms that should be reported immediately?
What to expect from future prenatal appointments
As your pregnancy continues, visit your health care provider regularly to make sure you’re doing well. During each prenatal care visit, your weight and blood pressure will be measured and a urine sample will be tested. . Your provider will measure your uterus to check for fetal growth. Check the fetal heartbeat.
Providers may recommend additional testing based on individual conditions and special needs.
As the pregnancy progresses further, office visits include discussions about labor and delivery. It may also include an internal examination to check for thinning (called effacement) and opening (called dilation) of the cervix (lower end of the uterus).