Congratulations on starting your journey to motherhood! While this time may be filled with excitement, it’s also normal to feel overwhelmed or lost, especially if this is your first child. Whether this is your first, second or fifth child we’re here to tell you that help is always available. Building up your pregnancy support team starts with your first prenatal appointment. Here’s what to expect as you begin this journey:
When do I schedule my first prenatal appointment?
After you finish celebrating your pregnancy, it’s time to schedule your first prenatal appointment. According to Health Partners, women will typically have their first prenatal visit between 6 and 12 weeks. It’s important to note that, although your appointment may take place in the second month of pregnancy, providers sometimes have a wait time for appointment availability. We recommend that you call as soon as you discover your pregnancy to get that appointment on our calendar and yours.
How can I prepare for my appointment?
If you feel lost while you wait for your first prenatal appointment, you’re not alone. Luckily, there are a few things you can add to your to-do list to prepare for your appointment. The first step is to make some lifestyle changes to reflect your newly found pregnant state. Start taking a prenatal vitamin, swap cocktails for mocktails, focus on your food sources and cut out cigarettes if you smoke.
One way to quiet the endless stream of questions in your head is to grab the nearest notepad and pen. Write down all the questions you have, and be ready to cross them off your list as your provider answers them during your appointment.
Your healthcare provider might ask about a variety of topics at your first appointment. Gather information for your first visit, including:
- Your menstrual cycle, gynecological history and any past pregnancies
- Your personal and family medical history
- Exposure to potentially toxic substances
- Medication use
- Travel history to areas where malaria, tuberculosis, the Zika virus or other infectious diseases are common
What’s going to happen during the appointment?
Your first appointment will include a physical exam to check your blood pressure and calculate your body mass index, or BMI, based on your weight and height. As your prenatal exams continue in the coming months, provider will check your overall health and monitor the healthy bodily fluctuations throughout your pregnancy. Your provider may also perform a breast and pelvic exam.
After the physical exams, your provider will likely run blood tests. Mayo Clinic lists the following as potential reasons for blood tests:
- Check your blood type
- Measure your hemoglobin levels
- Check your immunity to certain infections
- Detect exposure to other infections
After your provider is done assessing your health, it’s time to move on to the baby. Prenatal tests, such as ultrasounds or blood tests, will screen for certain fetal genetic characteristics. Rest assured, sensitive genetic testing decisions involve our patients and their providers.
What should I do after that initial prenatal appointment?
Now that you have entered pregnancy, your provider may give you ideas of lifestyle changes that can have a positive impact on your baby. Following your first prenatal appointment, it’s important to take the materials from your provider and consider how they fit into your life. Whether this is prioritizing a nutritious food intake, moderate exercise or reading certain educational material, your provider will give you the materials to dive in.
Scheduling regular prenatal follow-ups is important for your pregnancy. Some women may have health conditions that change the typical prenatal visit schedules, but What to Expect lays out the typical schedule for prenatal visits:
- Week 4 to 28: Once a month
- Weeks 28 to 36: Every other week
- Week 36 until birth: Every week
Although no two pregnancies are alike, regular prenatal visits are crucial for each one. As you navigate this journey, use your healthcare provider and other resources to become more comfortable with your pregnancy. Embrace this change and know that we are always here to help!