1. Pregnancy
  2. Pregnancy health
  3. Prenatal testing

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FAQ About Your First Prenatal Visit

Your first prenatal visit allows your health care team to check on your health and your baby’s development and to plan the rest of your natal care as effectively as possible. Read on to learn more about what to expect during your first pregnancy appointment and how to prepare for it.

The first prenatal check-up is usually scheduled around week eight of pregnancy, or, at least, ideally before week 10. It’s a good idea to schedule your first prenatal appointment once you get a positive pregnancy test.

The first prenatal visit is significant because getting prenatal care on time is a vital step in a healthy pregnancy. You may be able to get an earlier appointment if you have a chronic health condition or a history of high-risk pregnancies.

If you couldn’t make your first prenatal appointment before week 10 of your pregnancy, you should still schedule an appointment with your health care provider so they can help you plan your prenatal care for the rest of your pregnancy.

You’ll probably receive a lot of information during your first prenatal visit. This can be overwhelming, so a little preparation before your visit can help you feel more relaxed.

Your doctor will perform a physical and pelvic exam during this appointment, and they may carry out other tests, including:

  • Ultrasound to assess the development of your pregnancy
  • Pap smear to rule out the presence of human papillomavirus (HPV) or precancerous or cancerous cells
  • Urine test to check protein, glucose, blood, bacteria, white blood cells, and other substances that could point to an underlying condition
  • Blood tests to check your hemoglobin levels and rule out anemia, verify antibodies to certain diseases, and determine your blood type and Rh factor
  • STD testing to screen for HIV, hepatitis B, chlamydia, or syphilis

Your doctor or nurse will also measure your blood pressure, height, and weight, listen to your heart and lungs, look for signs of any medical conditions, and assess the size of your uterus and pelvis. These examinations will allow your medical team to assess your overall health and the progress of your pregnancy, as well as identify any factors that could lead to a high-risk pregnancy.

Your provider may order additional testing if they consider it necessary, but this isn’t always the case. Additional prenatal testing ordered during your first prenatal visit may include:

  • Genetic carrier screening: These tests allow your doctor to determine whether you’re a carrier for any genetic conditions, such as sickle cell anemia, cystic fibrosis, and Tay-Sachs disease. These tests can also be done before conception, and your partner can also be tested. You may be offered more specific screening depending on your ethnicity and family history.
  • Blood sugar test: This test is usually carried out during the second trimester, but you may get it done earlier if you have a personal or family history of diabetes or gestational diabetes.
  • Non-invasive prenatal genetic testing: This is a screening test that uses a maternal blood sample to find fractions of the DNA from the placenta. After analyzing the DNA of the cells, the doctors can tell if a fetus has an increased or a decreased risk of developing some genetic conditions. 

Your doctor will also ask you questions about your personal and family history, and they may ask some questions about your partner’s medical history as well.

It’s important to gather as much information as possible about your own medical history and that of your partner and your family. This information will be useful for your doctor to determine what risks may be associated with your pregnancy, how far along you are, and how to plan the rest of your prenatal care.

Some of the questions that your doctor may ask include:

  • The start date of your last menstrual period to determine your gestational age
  • Whether you’ve experienced any symptoms during early pregnancy
  • If you’re currently taking any medications
  • Birth control methods that you’ve used in the past
  • History of miscarriages or preterm births
  • Whether you’re allergic to any medications or substances
  • Any diseases or conditions that you currently have
  • Your physical and mental medical history
  • Whether your family or your partner’s family have a history of genetic disorders or pregnancy complications
  • Whether you took prenatal supplements while trying to conceive or if you’re taking them now
  • Exposure to environmental or work-related hazards
  • Your usual diet and nutritional habits

Being able to provide this information accurately will be helpful for your healthcare team. Historical documents can also be useful, such as:

  • Medical records
  • Previous Pap smear results
  • Previous blood test results
  • Ultrasounds
  • Previous delivery records

It’s okay if you or your partner can’t collect all of this information. Your medical team will still be able to provide good prenatal care and screen for possible complications during your pregnancy.

Your doctor will ask many questions during your first prenatal visit, but this is also a good time for you and your partner to ask questions of your own. It’s a good idea to write down any questions that come to your mind before the appointment and bring them with you, so you don’t forget anything.

Common questions that you may want to ask during your first pregnancy appointment include:

  • Who can you call if you have any questions about your pregnancy?
  • When will your next appointment be?
  • What is your due date?
  • Which prenatal supplements should you be taking?
  • Do you need to modify any of your everyday habits?
  • Do you need to change anything about the way you eat?
  • What’s considered a medical emergency during pregnancy? What should you do in the event of one?
  • If further testing was ordered, when will it be carried out, and when and how will you receive the results?
  • What are your doctor’s thoughts regarding vaginal delivery, cesarean sections, natural childbirth, labor induction, and episiotomies?

If you come up with additional questions after leaving your first prenatal appointment, write them down so you can bring them to your next visit.

During your first prenatal visit, a doctor will confirm pregnancy, and you’ll learn your due date. It’s important to schedule this visit as soon as you find out about your pregnancy to ensure good prenatal care.

Your first medical appointment during pregnancy will allow your health care team to assess your overall health, gather information about your personal and family history, determine risks during early pregnancy, and carry out certain tests. This information will help your team decide how to care for you and your baby to ensure a healthy pregnancy and delivery.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5895499/

https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/pregnancy-and-baby/nhs-pregnancy-journey/

https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/pregnancy-and-baby/first-midwife-appointment/

https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/pregnancy-week-by-week/in-depth/prenatal-care/art-20044882

https://ghr.nlm.nih.gov/primer/testing/nipt

https://www.pennmedicine.org/updates/blogs/womens-health/2018/march/what-happens-at-your-first-prenatal-
appointment

https://www.acog.org/Patients/FAQs/Carrier-Screening?IsMobileSet=false

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