What Happens at the First Prenatal Visit
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 expect.
When to Schedule Your First Prenatal Appointment
The first prenatal visit is typically scheduled for when you’re 7–10 weeks pregnant. Remember: 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 take time to:
- Measure your vital signs (height, weight, body temperature, and blood pressure)
- Collect a urine sample (to test for kidney function/protein and look for any infection in the urine)
- 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
- Do an ultrasound to confirm the pregnancy and provide an accurate due date
- Review healthy habits to follow during pregnancy
- Offer strategies to help pregnancy symptoms such as morning sickness
- 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
- Go over the schedule of prenatal visits
- Give you an opportunity to ask questions
How to Prepare for Your Visit
It’s helpful to bring medical records from previous pregnancies or from managing any health conditions you have, says Orr.
“Talk to your family about any genetic disorders that may run in the family,” adds Salak. “Be prepared with your partner’s family history as well, because not everyone knows the details of that side’s family history.”
And remember: No question you have is off the table. “We get all types of questions,” says Orr. “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.”
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