What to Expect at Your First Prenatal Visit
You should book your first prenatal visit with an obstetrician or midwife at around eight weeks pregnant. At this checkup, you’ll start to develop your relationship with your pregnancy professionals, several tests will be run, and you’ll have the chance to ask questions about your pregnancy. Read on to find out more about this important pregnancy milestone.
When to schedule First Prenatal Visit:
It’s recommended that you have your first prenatal visit at 8 weeks pregnant. Remember, that’s 8 weeks after the first day of your last menstrual period. It pays to make this booking early – clinics and midwives do get busy – rather than leaving it until a few days before you reach 8 weeks. In fact, it’s best to call and make your first prenatal appointment as soon as you’ve had that positive pregnancy test result. If you’re unsure which path you’ll go down for pregnancy care (obstetrician? Midwife?), call your regular doctor or local pregnancy center to ask for advice or check out our guide to prenatal care here.
What Happens at First Prenatal Visit:
The first prenatal visit involves a lot of talking, general health checks, and some specific blood tests. Your provider will want to know about:
- Any early pregnancy symptoms you are experiencing.
- Your history of miscarriage
- Hereditary conditions which may affect your pregnancy.
- Any medications you are taking.
- Lifestyle factors that may affect your pregnancy (e.g smoking, alcohol).
- Your general health and wellbeing.
Your provider will also carry out a number of routine checks to make sure you’re in good health. These include:
- Blood pressure
- Smear test (especially if it’s been a while!)
- Any tests that relate to your state of health or hereditary conditions.
Finally, blood tests will be taken to screen for blood type, Haemoglobin levels, HIV, Hepatitis and other blood or auto-immune conditions.
Questions to Ask at First Prenatal Visit:
It’s easy to think of something you really want to ask your provider and then to forget it in the hustle and bustle of your appointment. It pays to have a notebook with you with some of the questions you want to ask. This means you can note down the answers and keep the notebook as a record of your appointments. It will also be especially useful later on in your pregnancy when you need to keep track of specific symptoms and developments. Here are some examples of questions you might ask your provider at your first prenatal visit:
- How do I contact you if I have any questions or concerns?
- What should I do if there is an emergency? And what symptoms or situations do you consider to be an emergency?
- What lifestyle changes do I need to make for the healthiest pregnancy possible (e.g. diet, exercise, sexual intercourse)?
- When do you recommend I start making a birthplan? What are the things I should be considering?
- Who do you recommend I have on my prenatal and postpartum support teams?
- What will my prenatal care program look like? How often will I have appointments? And what tests will I need?
Remember, choosing your prenatal care providers is a deeply personal decision. There’s nothing wrong with looking for a new provider if you don’t click with the first practitioner you go to. It’s important that you develop a professional and trusting relationship with this person. After all, they’ll be guiding you through some of the most significant moments of your life.
Frequently Asked First Prenatal Visit Questions from Our Readers:
Question: Will I have an ultrasound at my first prenatal appointment?
Answer: Probably not. The first ultrasound is not necessary until you are between 16 and 20 weeks pregnant. However, if the doctor has concerns about your pregnancy (due to your state of health, hereditary conditions, or results from the tests) he or she may ask for an ultrasound to be completed. Some women also opt for an ultrasound before twelve weeks to confirm their due date. Talk to your provider if you would like to have this done.
Question: Should your husband come first prenatal visit?
Answer: This is totally up to you and your husband or partner. It can be a really useful to have a second pair of ears at your appointment because there’s a lot to take in. You can easily forget the details. It’s also a great way to help your husband feel more involved in the pregnancy process.
Question: What types of prenatal care are available? Should I choose a midwife or an obstetrician?
Answer: There are lots of different types of prenatal care to choose from. Unless you have serious complications and need specialist care, the choice is entirely personal. Check out our guide to prenatal care options here.
More Information and Articles about Prenatal Topics:
Prenatal classes aren’t only great for learning about your pregnancy and what to expect when you give birth. They’re also an excellent place to meet mothers-to-be at the same stage as you and to discuss your experiences, hopes, and fears. Many women make lifelong friends at their prenatal classes. But what style of classes should you choose? Lamaze? Or The Bradley Method? Or Hypnobirthing? Find out more in our guide to prenatal classes.
You’re now “eating for two”. No, that doesn’t mean stuffing yourself with junk food! It means giving your body all the nutrients it needs to grow a tiny human! Find out more about how you can construct a pregnancy diet plan which gives your baby the very best start in life.
The first trimester is a rapid stage of development for your baby. It’s also packed full of symptoms and changes for your body. Find out more about the earliest symptoms of pregnancy, fetal developments and important advice for the first trimester here.