Your First Prenatal Doctor Visit
The first doctor's appointment in your pregnancy will be one of the longest. The goal of the first prenatal appointment is to screen for common problems, both through medical tests and by getting a thorough medical history. The first appointment will also be a time for your questions to be answered and for the due date to be determined.
Getting a thorough medical history
Your doctor will have many questions to ask you at this first appointment. The questions are designed to look for risk factors for pregnancy complications. You will be asked about your personal and family health history. Be sure to tell your doctor if you are on any medications, including over-the-counter medications or supplements. Your doctor will also ask about any symptoms you have noticed during the first few weeks of pregnancy as well as any past pregnancies. He or she will want to know the date of your last period that will help in calculating your due date.
You may be asked some questions about your life. Your doctor will want to know about any habits that could affect your pregnancy, such as if you smoke, and may ask you if you are currently experiencing domestic abuse. These questions are asked to determine risks and so that the doctor may provide education or support.
If you are currently feeling depressed or anxious, you should talk to your doctor about it. Your doctor may screen you for depression or refer you to someone who can help. You should also share information about any past psychological concerns, such as depression. According to The March of Dimes, as many as 1 in 5 pregnant women experience depression, and those of which have been previously depressed may be at a higher risk.
Testing and Exam
Your first appointment will include a physical exam. This will include a pelvic exam and Pap smear. Your doctor will also perform or order additional medical tests, which will probably include blood tests and urinalysis. These tests will be to look for any physical illness or infections that could pose a risk to the baby. You will also have a test done to determine your blood type and Rh status. Depending on your risk factors, you may also be screened for genetic conditions.
Planning for the months ahead
Your doctor will provide you with information about future testing and appointments. Your doctor may schedule an appointment for an ultrasound after week 16. At this first appointment, your doctor will also provide you with an estimated due date. Although only about 5% of babies are born on their due dates according to Kidshealth.com, this will provide a guideline for tracking growth over the coming months.
You will also have an opportunity to ask any questions you have about your pregnancy. It is a good idea to bring along a list of questions. You and your doctor may discuss healthy habits for pregnancy, such as diet changes, medication issues, exercise, and any activities to avoid.
By the time you leave your first pregnancy medical appointment, you and your doctor should have a better idea of what to expect for the rest of the pregnancy. Continued medical care is important throughout your pregnancy and the testing done and questions asked during this first appointment will help determine the course of upcoming medical appointments and treatment.