What to Expect
If you did not meet with your health care provider before you were pregnant, your first prenatal visit will generally be around 8 weeks after your LMP (last menstrual period). If this applies to you, you should schedule a prenatal visit as soon as you know you are pregnant!
Even if you are not a first-time mother, prenatal visits are still important since every pregnancy is different. This initial visit will probably be one of the longest. It will be helpful if you arrive prepared with vital dates and information. This is also a good opportunity to bring a list of questions that you and your partner have about your pregnancy, prenatal care, and birth options.
Your doctor will ask for your medical history, including:
- Medical and/or psychosocial problems
- Blood pressure, height, and weight
- Breast and cervical exam
- Date of your last menstrual period (an accurate LMP is helpful when determining gestational age and due date)
- Birth control methods
- History of abortions and/or miscarriages
- Medications you are taking
- Medication allergies
- Your family’s medical history
Your healthcare provider will also perform a physical exam which will include a pap smear, cervical cultures, and possibly an ultrasound if there is a question about how far along you are or if you are experiencing any bleeding or cramping.
Blood will be drawn and several laboratory tests will also be done, including:
- Hemoglobin/ hematocrit
- Rh Factor and blood type (if Rh negative, rescreen at 26-28 weeks)
- Rubella screen
- Varicella or history of chickenpox, rubella, and hepatitis vaccine
- Cystic Fibrosis screen
- Hepatitis B surface antigen
- Tay Sach’s screen
- Sickle Cell prep screen
- HIV test
- Hemoglobin levels
- Hematocrit levels
- Specific tests depending on the patient, such as testing for tuberculosis and Hepatitis C
Your healthcare provider will probably want to discuss the following:
- Recommendations concerning dental care, cats, raw meat, fish, and gardening
- Fevers and medications
- Environmental hazards
- Travel limitations
- Miscarriage precautions
- Prenatal vitamins, supplements, herbs
- Diet, exercise, nutrition, weight gain
- Physician/midwife rotation in the office
Possible questions to ask your provider include:
- Is there a nurse line that I can call if I have questions?
- If I experience bleeding or cramping, do I call you or your nurse?
- What do you consider an emergency?
- Will I need to change my habits regarding sex, exercise, nutrition?
- When will my next prenatal visit be scheduled?
- What type of testing do you recommend and when are they to be done? (In case you want to do research the tests to decide if you want them or not.)
If you have not yet discussed labor and delivery issues with your doctor, this is a good time. This helps reduce the chance of surprises when labor arrives.
Some questions to ask include:
- What are your thoughts about natural childbirth?
- What situations would warrant a Cesarean?
- What situations would warrant an episiotomy?
- How long past my expected due date will I be allowed to go before intervening?
- What is your policy on labor induction?
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