What to Expect During Your First Prenatal Appointment

Your body experiences many changes in the early months of pregnancy. Your first prenatal appointment helps ensure that both you and your unborn baby experience the best possible pregnancy and birth. 

This office visit includes a thorough medical examination to assess your health and the possibility of complications. It also gives you the chance to receive medical advice and lifestyle recommendations for the months ahead.

Whether you have a normal or high-risk pregnancy, you can feel confident that you’re doing your best for your baby by seeking early and ongoing prenatal care. When compared to babies of mothers who received prenatal care, babies whose mothers neglect prenatal care have a higher risk of experiencing low birth weights and fetal death.

Starting prenatal care early and following through with your physician’s recommendations can help keep you and your baby healthy. Our OB/GYNs at The Association for Women’s Health Care, Ltd., in Chicago and Northbrook, Illinois, specialize in helping expectant mothers navigate the course of pregnancy. Our staff offers comprehensive maternal care, starting with your first prenatal appointment through delivery and the postpartum phase. 

Find out what to expect when you visit our office for your first prenatal appointment. Knowing what’s involved can help you feel prepared and more comfortable for this first step in caring for your baby. 

History of health and pregnancies

During your first prenatal appointment, you provide detailed information about your health and pregnancy history. Be prepared to provide information about existing and past medical conditions and hospitalizations, the names and dosages of current prescriptions and over-the-counter medications, your family’s medical history, and any chronic health conditions. 

A comprehensive medical history helps us determine whether your pregnancy has a risk of complications and what’s required to address it. You can help by bringing copies of your general and obstetric medical records to your first prenatal appointment or having them sent to the office by a medical records provider. You should also provide information related to your immunization dates, results of recent lab work and Pap smears, and the date of your last menstrual period. 

If you’ve had previous pregnancies, we want to know how those pregnancies progressed and whether any complications arose. Bring records from previous births and/or miscarriages, including ultrasound and genetic testing results.

Complete physical exam

You can expect to have a complete physical exam during your first prenatal appointment. This includes measurements of your weight, pulse, blood pressure, pulse, and breathing. We also assess the health of your lungs, heart, and breasts. 

During your exam, you may have to provide a urine sample so we can check your bladder and kidney function and screen for diabetes, dehydration, and high levels of sugars or proteins. Your physician also performs a pelvic exam to assess the size of your uterus and determine whether it matches your expected due date based on your last menstrual period. 

If you have bleeding or cramping, or if there’s a question regarding the accuracy of your due date, you may undergo an abdominal ultrasound. If your first prenatal appointment occurs close to your 10th week of pregnancy or beyond, we may use a Doppler ultrasound to listen to your baby’s heartbeat. 

Prenatal testing

Your first prenatal appointment includes recommendations for prenatal tests, depending on your age, condition, and medical history. We may perform some tests in our office, but you may have to go to a lab to have others completed. 

Most patients have blood drawn to check for anemia, vitamin D deficiency, Rh factor, blood sugar, and evidence of immunity to chickenpox, rubella, and other contagious diseases. Bloodwork can also screen for sexually transmitted diseases like chlamydia, syphilis, and HIV.

Depending on your family history, pregnancy history, and other considerations, we may also discuss the possibility of genetic testing for conditions like cystic fibrosis, sickle cell anemia, Tay-Sachs disease, and Down syndrome.

Education and counseling

You can expect to receive valuable education and counseling during your first prenatal appointment. This can help prepare you for what to expect as your baby grows and your body changes. Depending on your condition, we may recommend modifying your lifestyle and nutrition, including taking prenatal vitamin supplements, to benefit the health of your baby.

Don’t hesitate to take an active role in the conversation during this consultation. You’ll have the best pregnancy experience if you’re mentally and physically prepared for the months ahead. Talk to your physician about your concerns so you can get the support you need and feel confident about the decisions you make for yourself and your unborn baby.

Attending your first prenatal appointment as early as possible can position you and your baby for a healthy pregnancy and birth. Schedule online or call one of our convenient offices to arrange an appointment today.

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