Are you uncertain about when you should see your doctor and what will happen at your prenatal appointment? At the offices of Sanford White, MD, we’re prepared to help you through your pregnancy every step of the way. We want you to know a few things you can expect during your first prenatal appointment.
When should you see the doctor?
The sooner you begin prenatal care, the better your chance of having a healthy pregnancy. So call us as soon as you get a positive home pregnancy test.
Most first visits happen sometime after your eighth week of pregnancy. We usually only see expectant moms before eight weeks if they have a medical condition that puts them at high risk, like problems in the past with a pregnancy or concerning symptoms, like spotting, bleeding, stomach pain, or severe nausea and vomiting.
The first visit
What happens during your first prenatal visit depends on how far along you are in your pregnancy. But no matter when you come to see us, the first visit is all about you. We want to help prepare you for what to expect throughout your pregnancy.
Here are five things you can expect us to do:
1. Ask you some questions
We ask you to complete paperwork when you first arrive at your appointment. One of our staff members reviews all of your answers with you. During this time, we ask lots of questions that help us know if you have any special needs during your pregnancy. We ask questions about:
- Your health, including past pregnancies, surgeries, and any health conditions
- Your family and genetic health history
- Your habits, like smoking, drinking, drug use, and exercise
- Your stress levels, which can affect your pregnancy
- Your home life, including dental care, diet, and if you have any cats
- Your travel plans during your pregnancy
2. Get a urine sample
You should expect to provide a urine sample. We check for any signs of infection and confirm your pregnancy with a test that is more sensitive than the one you took at home.
3. Perform prenatal blood tests
Taking a blood sample helps us find any possible problems with your pregnancy so that we can help you make the best decisions for you and your baby. Some of the blood tests we do include:
This test determines the presence of Rh factor in your blood, which is a protein found on red blood cells. It also tells us your blood type. If you don’t have the Rh factor (Rh negative) in your blood, but the father does (Rh positive), you need special care throughout your pregnancy to keep you and your baby safe.
This is a standard blood test to check different levels in your blood. It helps us know you are healthy and can identify any special needs you may have during your pregnancy.
Every pregnancy is unique, so some tests, like genetic screenings, are not routine but we do them based on your preferences and other factors like family history and your age.
If you have any active infections during your pregnancy, you can pass them on to your baby. We check for diseases like hepatitis B, rubella, HIV, and syphilis.
4. Do a complete physical exam
Our staff, led by Dr. White, checks your height, weight, blood pressure, lungs, and heart. We want to know what medications, including vitamins and herbs, you are taking. We also ask about medication allergies you may have.
No matter how long it has been since your last routine pelvic exam, Dr. White is going to want to do a pelvic exam and cultures to make sure your pregnancy is healthy. We check for diseases like gonorrhea and chlamydia, which can be dangerous to your baby. We also do a Pap test and possibly a test for human papillomavirus (HPV), depending on your risk factors.
You may have an ultrasound, too, depending on how far along in the pregnancy you may be and how accurate you are about when you became pregnant. During an ultrasound, we can make sure the baby is growing as we would expect, and you may be able to hear a heartbeat.
5. Answer your questions
Our staff spends enough time with you to answer all of your questions. We encourage you to keep a running list so that each time you come to your appointments all of your questions are answered.
Now that you know what to expect, call our office to schedule an appointment. Dr. White and the rest of the staff are ready to help you throughout your prenatal care and delivery.