This month we are going to break down that all-important first prenatal visit and specifically what you can expect. Don’t forget to check out our book Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Pregnancy But Were Too Afraid or Embarrassed To Ask available on Amazon and be sure to download the app (Everything Pregnancy) from the Apple App and Google Play stores.
Like many things during pregnancy, the first prenatal appointment is no doubt the subject of lots of excitement and probably a little bit of apprehension. Fear not! The Twin Docs are going to tell you everything you need to know about the first prenatal visit so that you sail through it like a pro! So, here is a run-down of what to expect:
1). A detailed medical history
When we say detailed, we really mean detailed. There are lots of things in your medical history (medical conditions, current medications, possible genetic conditions, environmental exposures) that could affect you, your pregnancy, and your baby, and the best way to predict these and prevent any potential problems is to simply ask a ton of questions.
Answering these questions can take a lot of time, so plan at least an hour for this first visit. So, what are some things your doctor will want to know?
- Prior pregnancies and outcomes: This includes miscarriages, abortions, term, and preterm deliveries.
- Any medical conditions that you have or have had in the past.
- Any current or past medications.
- Any prior surgeries.
- All vaccines received as well as those not received.
- What type of work you do and where you live: This is important to screen for potential environmental exposures.
- Safety concerns (domestic violence, seatbelts, guns in the home, etc.).
- The presence of pets or exposure to other animals.
- Your partner’s personal and family medical history including potential genetic disorders, heart defects, or brain/spinal cord conditions.
2). Lots of tests
Just when you think you are home free and finally finished answering all of those medical questions, it’s time for a bunch of lab test. So, what tests can you expect?
- A PAP smear: If you are not current on your PAP, your doctor or midwife will probably want to do one. Cervical pre-cancer and cancer are thankfully rare, but they should definitely still be screened for and what better time than during your first visit when an exam with the speculum is going to be performed anyway?
- Cervical cultures: All people are screened at the first visit for STIs (sexually transmitted infections) because undiagnosed STIs can cause a multitude of problems including miscarriage, preterm labor, and even neonatal blindness.
- Lots and lots of blood work: Make sure you drink plenty of water before your first visit because you will have up to 7 tubes of blood drawn. I know it sucks, but all of these tests serve a particular and important purpose. Some of the labs that will be checked include Your blood type, an anemia screen, tests to see if you are immune to infections like the chickenpox and German measles, screens for infections like HIV, hepatitis and syphilis, and a screen to see if you are a carrier for sickle cell disease.
3). Determine your due date
I’m sure your doctor isn’t the only person who wants to know when to expect your bundle of joy. There are a few ways that they can