If you just found out that you are pregnant the initial shock can be overwhelming. After the initial shock wears off it’s time to get down to business and schedule your first prenatal appointment. Regular prenatal care reduces the risk of pregnancy complications and reduces the risk for your infant’s complications as well. Your health care provider will inform you of the important precautions to take to protect your baby and to have a healthy pregnancy. If you have any questions or concerns about your pregnancy this will be the time to ask.

What to Expect During Your 1st Prenatal Visit?

            If you didn’t meet your health care provider before you were pregnant, your first prenatal visit is generally 8 weeks after your last menstrual period. If you have any medical conditions or had difficulties with your last pregnancy, you may need to schedule the initial prenatal visit sooner. Especially if you are experiencing vaginal bleeding, abdominal pain, or severe vomiting/nausea. Let your doctor know if you are on any medications or if you were exposed to any hazardous substances. This will be the longest prenatal visit, unless you have any problems throughout the pregnancy.

            Be prepared to answer a series of questions, so your doctor can best inform you about your pregnancy. Here are some questions to be ready for. Are your menstrual cycles regular and how long do they tend to last? What was the first day of your last period? Did you notice any problems or symptoms in your last period, whether pregnancy related or not? Have you had any gynecological problems now or in the past? Make sure to include if you ever had any STDs in your answer. If you were pregnant before make sure to include any details of your last pregnancy.

            You will be given a thorough physical and pelvic exam. If your PAP smear isn’t current your health care provider will give you one. Blood tests will be done to determine your blood type and Rh status. You will also be checked for anemia. Unless you have for certain had chicken pox when you were younger or a vaccine, you will be tested to see if you have an immunity for chicken pox. You will also be offered genetic diagnostic testing. This will be able to determine if your baby has Down syndrome or any other certain problems.

Before The Visit Is Over

            Before you leave the doctor’s office, your health care provider will recommend prenatal vitamins that contain folic acid. Folic acid helps to prevent serious birth defects of the spinal cord and brain. You can also find folic acid in the form of folate which is in certain foods. Folate can be found in certain cereals, pastas, bread, and other grain-based foods. Your doctor will discuss certain medications that are not safe to take during pregnancy. Some acne medications/treatments and some dietary/herbal supplements are not safe during pregnancy as well. Make sure to consult your doctor if you are taking any of these. Your doctor may also recommend that you follow a healthy diet during your pregnancy. You will be advised to avoid exposure to potentially harmful substances, such as lead & radiation. Lastly, but not least make sure to schedule your follow-up prenatal appointment. This appointment is generally 4-6 weeks after the initial visit.