Your pregnancy test was positive and now it’s time for your first prenatal check-up. Although by week eight your little one will be the size of a ring, there is a myriad of things to talk about with your practitioner. Your first prenatal check-up will be one of the longest you’ll experience during your pregnancy, but also the most educational. From tests and prenatal care to discussing your birth options, you’ll spend lots of time asking questions and getting answers.
Here are the specifics on when to schedule your first appointment, how to get ready for it and what actually happens while you're there.
When should I schedule my first prenatal check-up?
You should schedule a prenatal visit as soon as you know you are pregnant. Once you’re sure the test is positive, call your practitioner to set up an appointment. In order to have a healthy pregnancy and baby, good prenatal care is crucial.
When will my first prenatal check-up take place?
Your first prenatal visit will generally be around 8 weeks after your last menstrual period. Make sure you get in touch with your practitioner as soon as you know you’re pregnant as you might have to wait several weeks for an appointment. If you’re worried that your pregnancy might be high-risk, then check in with your practitioner’s office to see if you can get an earlier check-up. If you’re not certain whether you’re pregnant, certain OB/GYN offices also offer an earlier "pre-OB" visit to confirm a pregnancy.
Regardless of the date of your first check-up, start acting pregnant and take precautions. Read about the basics of a pregnancy and don’t be afraid to call your practitioner if you have any concerns.
What can I expect for my first prenatal check-up?
- You will have a full physical exam. Your doctor will check your vitals, blood pressure, heart rate, and heart functioning. The doctor might also ask you questions about your lifestyle choices, such as smoking, alcohol use, sexual health, diet, and exercise.
- You will have a breast and pelvic exam. The doctor will check for cervical cancer and any sexually transmitted infections via Pap test.
- Your doctor/practitioner will draw blood to check for:
- Blood problems
- Your blood type and Rh status
- Syphilis, HIV, and hepatitis B
- Immunity to rubella
- Diseases such as diabetes and thyroid dysfunction
- You will have a urine test so that your doctor can check for kidney disease, bladder infection, and sugar and protein levels.
- Your doctor will perform genetic carrier screening. This test will determine whether you’re a carrier for the more common genetic conditions such as cystic fibrosis, sickle cell anemia, thalassemia, and Tay-Sachs disease.
In addition, most practitioners do an ultrasound during the first visit so you can see your baby. However, others might wait until a bit later when there’s more to see.
What will I discuss with my practitioner?
In order to have a healthy pregnancy and baby, it’s important to be as open as possible with your practitioner. Be ready to discuss:
- Your lifestyle choices that could affect the baby, including smoking, alcohol use, or drug use
- Your personal and family medical history. Be open about your history of abortions and/or miscarriages. Discuss any medications you’re taking and previous hospitalizations.
- Your emotional state and discuss any history of depression or other mental illness.
- Mention your ethnic background as some ethnicities are more likely to pass certain genetic disorders.
What are some possible questions to ask my practitioner?
- What is a suitable prenatal vitamin?
- What food should I be eating more of during my pregnancy and what food should I avoid?
- What are the pros and cons of a vaginal birth?
- What are the pros and cons of a C-section?
- What is my due date?
- Is it safe to exercise? Are there any exercises I should avoid?
- What symptoms should I expect?
- How long will my morning sickness symptoms last?
- Should I take any precautions for sex during pregnancy?
- When will you schedule my next prenatal check-up?