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First Prenatal Appointment: Everything You Need to Know

Table of Contents

First prenatal appointment Everything you need to know

Table of Contents

Have you recently taken a pregnancy test and it came out positive? Congratulations, but what now? 

The moment we took the test on that stick and got a positive result, we’re sure that your whole world changed for good. You’re probably excited, anxious, and maybe a little bewildered thinking of the next steps and your prenatal care. What test do you need to for now? What vitamins will you need? When will you hear the baby’s heartbeat or what about the first ultrasound? 

We would at first recommend slowing down, and while you are at it, Parenthood bliss is going to be your favorite pal. From throughout your trimesters, the pelvic exam, what could affect, and through your in-person treatment. We’ll go through all but at first, the first step is to take your first prenatal appointment to meet the practitioner!

What to expect at your first prenatal appointment according to the healthcare provider

1) Find the best healthcare professional

This depends on what type of care you would need, where you’d like to birth the baby, and if there are any health or pregnancy complications to consider even in your family history. You could choose to call your family doctor first, or plan to see an OB/GYN. Most healthcare practitioners would recommend booking your first prenatal appointment at around eight to 10 weeks.

2) Prepare for the first prenatal appointment

Once you are done with assigning yourself a healthcare provider and securing an appointment, you must prepare yourself for the first prenatal by making a list of drug use and medications you’re taking, including dosages, find out about your family history of the health information concerning gestational diabetes and hypertension. Also, look into your partner’s family and have a history of any genetic disorders. If at all the pregnancy is from donated sperm or egg, contact the donor for their medical history.

3) Head start by getting your partner to your prenatal visit

Ask your partner to join you for that first prenatal appointment as it could get a lot to take in in the first visit. Also, make sure to take notes of your concerns and any relevant information at your first appointment in the list of questions.

4) Determine the due date

With your first prenatal appointment, you’d be booking follow-up tests in order to confirm your pregnancy and the due date. Here the doctor will ask about your last menstrual cycle to weeks your in. If your periods are regular and you’re planning for the first-trimester screening, you must get an ultrasound, not until around 11 to 12 weeks. But, if you’re unsure, you must get the screening done sooner.

When can you expect to hear the baby’s heartbeat?

Depending on when you are getting your first ultrasound, you can hear the baby’s heartbeat in the first scan itself, at least six to seven weeks.

On the other hand, the healthcare provider will be able to detect the baby’s heartbeat when they test using a Doppler fetal monitor in your 12 weeks along. Must sure to not panic if you fail to hear the heartbeat, as at times when the dates are off by a few days or earlier than 12 weeks, or in case your bladder is full, the baby’s heartbeat may not be detectable even with a Doppler until 14 weeks or later.

Here is what you can expect in your first prenatal:

1) Physical exam at your prenatal visits

The doctor will measure the progress in the first visit of your pregnancy by gathering health information with results to your pregnancy weight, current weight, height, and blood pressure. And, anytime in the first week, you will be asked to take a full physical checkup, head-to-toe, to check the head, neck, thyroid, heart, lungs, skin, breasts, and do a Pap test (an internal swab of your cervical cells to know of the presence of cancerous cells).

2) Complete workup in your pregnancy appointment

Your doctor will provide a requisition for blood work to assess the blood count for the red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets, to indicate anemia or infections, as well as the blood type for Rh-negative that can affect the pregnancy. You can also expect a routine public health screening for blood work for rubella, syphilis, hepatitis B, and HIV.

The doctor may also order additional blood work based on the lifestyle and health history like chickenpox and thyroid levels. In case you’re a vegetarian, you might be asked to check for vitamin B12 levels, kidney function with a creatinine test, and screen for diseases like sickle cell disease and thalassemia. If even that doesn’t come through, they will ask you to pee in a cup to test for any sexually transmitted infections (STIs) like gonorrhea and chlamydia, white blood cells, glucose, and proteins to indicate a risk of infection, diabetes, or pre-eclampsia.

3) A first-trimester screening

This is done to determine the risk of having a baby with Down syndrome or trisomy 18. It involves a blood test and an ultrasound in the 11 to 14 weeks of pregnancy. If the initial screening is positive, if the prior pregnancy had a positive first-trimester screening, or if you are over 40 years of age you might want a newer blood test called non-invasive prenatal testing (NIPT) in the early as nine weeks (that may be covered by your provincial healthcare) and give you a piece of more genetic information on the risk factors of the baby. 

Most women opt for NIPT screening that costs $700 regardless of whether they are high risk, according to Thorne. Thinking of the next ultrasound? Post the first-trimester screening ultrasound, the next will not be until the 18 to 20 weeks for the anatomy scan.

4) Be prepared to answer and ask questions concerning the mental health and lifestyle

Prenatal healthcare providers would ask questions regarding mental health in the past and present. This is done to know about the risk factors such as the history of anxiety, depression, eating disorders, schizophrenia, and bipolar disorder. 

According to Murray-Davis, they would want to identify the experience in the past to care for that will affect their care going forward, and if any additional supports are needed. 

Murray-Davis also says that your healthcare provider will ask and answer questions on diet, exercise routine, sexual activity, and travel and they’ll talk to you about the important prenatal vitamins like folic acid and its regular intake to prevent neural tube defects and counsel you on avoiding certain foods like unpasteurized cheeses, deli meats, raw fish, eggs, and drinks (limiting caffeine and to avoid +alcohol).

How long does the first prenatal visit take and how often will they be follow-up prenatal appointments?

The visit will take time so you could opt to pack a snack instead. The first appointment would take up to half an hour with the family doctor or an OB-GYN.

The standard of care during pregnancy is from the beginning of pregnancy up until 28 weeks, with an appointment every four weeks, and with the 28 weeks, the visits will become every two weeks, and lastly at 36 weeks until the baby is born.

That’s all about your first prenatal visit folks! Also, if you are looking for good prenatal vitamins or over the counter medications, Parenthood bliss has accumulated a list for it too! Click HERE to view the article.

To Conclude

That first appointment can be a little bit intimidating and overwhelming, however, once it’s done, you’ll be able to make the best decisions for yourself and your baby. So, stress less for a healthier baby and mom.

FAQs: First prenatal appointment: Everything you need to know

1) Do you have an ultrasound at your first prenatal visit?

During the first visit, most practitioners do a prenatal ultrasound, which gives the most accurate date of pregnancy.

2) How long does the first prenatal appointment take?

Your first appointment includes an ultrasound, lab work, and a meeting with a certified nurse-midwife. It'll take about 90 minutes or so.

3) What can I expect at my prenatal appointment?

Your first visit is usually the longest one. You'll talk to your doctor about medical histories, you and your partners also your family's medical history. They'll give you a complete check-up, usually with a physical exam and blood and urine tests to make sure you're healthy.

Reviewed By:

Esha Chainani - Obstetrician and Gynaecologist

Esha Chainani - Obstetrician and Gynaecologist

Dr Esha Chainani is an Obstetrician, Gynaecologist and laparoscopic surgeon practicing in Mumbai. She aims to break the stigma around women’s health by advocating an inclusive and open practice of obstetrics and gynaecology. Esha is the author of several internationally published research papers and health articles in the media like the Swaddle. She founded Premaa, a non profit to reduce maternal morbidity and eventual maternal mortality by providing lower income pregnant women living in urban areas cell phone access through an app, to medically correct information proven to influence the outcomes of both mother and child. Her app Premaa pregnancy also has an entire section about contraception as well for a whole gamut of reproductive health. She has been on the panel for multiple health sessions including with the UN, USAID, BMC, gender at work and multiple non profit organisations. She’s also on the advisory panel of the South Indian medical students association. She is also an editor at the MAR Journal of Gynaecology. She advocates for accessible healthcare through her instagram account as well posting about reproductive health, mental health and sexual health.

On behalf of the editorial team at Parenthoodbliss, we follow strict reporting guidelines and only use credible sources, along with peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and highly respected health organizations. To learn about how we maintain content accurate and up-to-date by reading our medical review and editorial policy.

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