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What Happens at the First Prenatal Visit

By Kerry Weiss
Reviewed by Alyssa Quimby, M.D.
December 07, 2023
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Once you get a positive home pregnancy test, you should set up your first prenatal visit with a doctor or midwife.

Establishing care early on and attending regular prenatal visits helps keep you and your baby healthy.

Here’s what to plan for and what to expect at your first prenatal visit.

When to Schedule Your First Prenatal Visit

The first prenatal visit is typically scheduled for when you’re 7–10 weeks pregnant. This is counted from the first day of your last period.

This timing is important, as “it confirms a viable pregnancy and ideally gives the most accurate due date,” says Katy Orr, a certified registered nurse practitioner at the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology.

If you’re further along in your pregnancy by the time you make that first appointment, don’t worry. Your doctor or midwife will get you in for a visit as soon as possible, says Jessica Salak, M.D., board-certified ob-gyn at Tufts Medical Center in Boston.

It’s best to call as soon as you know you’re pregnant, since appointments can book up quickly. At your visit, the provider will check to make sure you’re healthy and your baby is developing as expected.

What Will Happen at Your First Prenatal Appointment

“The first visit is the longest visit of the entire pregnancy,” says Salak.

That’s because your doctor or midwife will complete the following assessments and tests:

  • Measure your vital signs (height, weight, body temperature, and blood pressure)
  • Collect a urine sample (the urine will be tested for kidney function/protein and look for any signs of infection)
  • Do an ultrasound to confirm the pregnancy and provide an accurate due date
  • Do a pap smear and breast exam (if you’re due for them)
  • Draw blood to check your blood type and screen for potential concerns
  • Offer genetic screening tests to screen for conditions such as Down syndrome

They’ll gather a lot of information from you too, says Salak. They will:

  • Review your medical history, including any medications you take
  • Discuss family health history (for both you and the baby’s other parent)
  • Ask about tobacco, alcohol, and drug use, and recommend resources for quitting (if needed)
  • Talk about your job to see if there are work-related risks to the pregnancy
  • Ask about your relationships to be sure they’re healthy and safe

They may also offer some education around what to expect at each prenatal visit and throughout the pregnancy, says Salak. To do this, they will likely:

What to Bring to Your First Prenatal Doctor’s Visit

Gather the right information and details before your first prenatal visit. Having these items can help make it go as smoothly as possible:

  • Important health documents. Bring a valid ID and your health insurance card to your appointment. “And be prepared to discuss billing options,” says Orr.
  • Date your last period began. This helps your provider assess how far along your pregnancy is, says Orr.
  • Previous pregnancy history. Bring along any records you may have from past pregnancies, including delivery information. Also be sure to discuss any history of abortion, miscarriage, or fertility problems, says Orr.
  • Personal medical history. Be sure to discuss any health conditions or issues you’re managing, such as high blood pressure. Tell the provider about any medications you’re currently taking and their exact dosages, Orr says. This is also a good time to mention any allergies you may have, adds Salak.
  • Extended family medical history. “Talk to your family about any genetic disorders that may run in the family,” adds Salak. “Be prepared with your partner’s [or other parent’s] family history as well, because not everyone knows the details of that side’s family history.”
  • Overall honesty. It's important to be honest when your provider asks you questions about habits like smoking, alcohol, or drug use, or if you’ve experienced any domestic violence, notes Salak. They can help you get the support you need to keep you and your growing baby safe.

Questions to Ask at Your First Prenatal Appointment

Take time before the appointment to gather your thoughts and concerns.

“Be ready with a list of questions written or typed in your phone so you don’t forget what you want to ask during the visit,” advises Orr.

Common questions to ask at the first prenatal visit include:

  • How often do I need to come in for pregnancy-related visits?
  • How many ultrasounds will I get during pregnancy?
  • What types of prenatal screenings or tests do I need?
  • Should I be making any changes to my diet?
  • What prenatal vitamin do you recommend?
  • Which exercises are safe for me during pregnancy?
  • How much weight should I gain throughout the pregnancy?
  • Where will I deliver the baby?
  • What’s the best way to reach you with any questions or concerns?

And remember: No question you have is too silly, simple, or off the table. “We get all types of questions,” says Orr.

FAQ: If You Have a Partner, Should They Come to the First Prenatal Visit?

If you have a partner, they should be as involved in your prenatal care as possible. Attending the first prenatal visit is an important place to start. Consider involving the other parent even if you aren’t in a relationship.

“The first visit is usually more complex than most, with discussion about details of the pregnancy, the hospital or healthcare team, scheduling, billing, and expectations. This is also when the first ultrasound is usually done,” says Orr. “It helps to have both parents here for this, not just for support but also to help remember details, ask questions, take notes, and bring up concerns.”

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