If you are feeling nervous about your first pregnancy appointment then you’re certainly not alone.
Feeling nervous or anxious during pregnancy, especially if this is the first time you’re expecting, is both completely natural and totally normal.
To help calm your nerves, it can be helpful to have an understanding of exactly what you can expect during your first prenatal or OB appointment.
So let’s take a look at first trimester appointments in more detail.
What To Expect At First Prenatal Appointment
Here are 10 key things you can expect during your first prenatal, antenatal or OB appointment:
1. Medical History
One of the first things to expect at a prenatal appointment is your practitioner or midwife wanting to get to know you and your medical history, so they can give you the best prenatal care plan for you and your baby.
It’s therefore a good idea to come prepared by making sure your know your medical history well, as well as the medical history of your partner and immediate family.
Topics like allergies, high blood pressure, medications, mental and physical health, lifestyle, birth control and your most recent menstrual cycle are all likely to come up.
2. Physical Exam
Your healthcare worker will measure your weight, height and body mass index (BMI), so they can work out how much weight you need to gain for a healthy pregnancy.
In addition, there is often a physical exam which includes examining your breasts and pelvic area.
A Pap test is also usually done during the first prenatal visit to look for changes in the cells of the cervix.
Some women are naturally concerned about the effects of this test, so it’s worth stressing that a Pap test (or smear) is a routine part of prenatal care and poses no risk to your fetus.
3. Confirm Pregnancy
You may be surprised to know that a positive at home pregnancy test is something that’s known as a presumptive sign of pregnancy, which means your pregnancy is not 100% confirmed.
You should therefore expect a urine test or blood test at you prenatal or antenatal appointment (more on these later), so your pregnancy can be fully confirmed.
4. Blood Test
At your first prenatal visit there is a good chance that blood tests may be take in order to:
- Check your blood type: Your pregnancy may need special care if you are Rh negative and your husband or partner is Rh positive.
- Measure your hemoglobin: Low hemoglobin (an iron-rich protein found in red blood cells) or a low level of red blood cells is a sign of anemia, which can make pregnant women feel very tired.
- Check immunity to certain infections: Such as rubella and chickenpox.
- Detect exposure to other infections: You may be asked to provide blood so they can test for infections like hepatitis B, syphilis, gonorrhea, chlamydia and HIV.
5. Urine Sample
You will probably need to give a urine sample to check your HCG levels, as well as to test for signs of a bladder or urinary tract infection.
6. Bring Your Husband Or Partner
For most expecting women, your husband or partner will be a big part of your pregnancy, so you will no doubt want them with you.
By attending your first prenatal visit, your husband can learn about the pregnancy, ask questions, offer emotional support and share the excitement of hearing your baby’s heartbeat.
Most clinics are fine with allowing partners, but for piece of mind it’s worth double checking you can bring your partner or a close family member.
7. See & Hear Your Baby
The most memorable part of your prenatal appointment (and pregnancy in general) will be hearing your baby’s heartbeat and seeing the fetus on screen via a sonogram.
This is when you’ll get that amazing sonogram picture that you probably won’t be able to take your eyes off for the next few weeks and will proudly show off to friends and family!
8. You May Or May Not Need To Remove Clothes
The amount of clothing you will need to remove for your ultrasound will generally depend on the type of ultrasound and what you are wearing.
For an external or abdominal ultrasound (where the probe is moved over your skin), the technologist will need access to your belly area, so it’s advisable to wear a 2-piece outfit that is comfortable and loose-fitting.
If you wear loose clothing that can easily be lifted up, and pants that either naturally sit low or can be adjusted downwards like jeans or sweatpants, then you may not need to remove any clothes during an external ultrasound.
If you are having a pelvic or transvaginal ultrasound (usually for scans before 10 weeks) then the midwife will need to insert a small ultrasound probe into your vagina, so you should be prepared to remove all clothing on the lower half of your body.
This might sound scary, but while internal examinations may cause you a little discomfort, they don’t usually cause any pain, and are also fairly short in duration.
When dressing for an internal or pelvic ultrasound, you should wear clothing that is comfortable, loose-fitting and easily to take off and put back on.
Because you may be asked to remove all clothing on your lower half for a pelvic ultrasound, you will find that something like a two-piece outfit (for example pants with a shirt), along with shoes that are easy to take off, works well.
9. Receive Due Date
You might be surprised to learn that your due date is not when you will have your baby, but instead it’s the date when you’ll be 40 weeks pregnant.
The reason the clinic will want to establish your due date is so they can monitor your baby’s progress and growth.
The date also helps correctly schedule tests and procedures so they’re done at the right time.
Your healthcare provider will estimate your due date by asking you when your last period started – for reference, your due date is around 40 weeks from when your last period started.
10. Answer Your Questions
Your first prenatal appointment is the perfect time to ask any questions you may have.
Everyone’s questions will differ slight depending on your personal circumstances and medical history, although you may find this list of sample questions useful:
- What symptoms can I expect as my baby grows? (In addition to common pregnancy cravings)
- Are there specific symptoms I should tell you about if they occur?
- What types of foods should I eat? (For example protein is very important during pregnancy)
- What types of foods should I avoid? (Such as undercooked meat or dried foods like beef jerky)
- What type of exercise if safe?
- Should I avoid any types of activities? (Such as getting a piercing, which isn’t safe for pregnancy women, swimming in cold water or getting a foot massage)
- Do I need to take any supplements?
- What medications should I avoid taking?
- Is it normal to have early pregnancy anxiety about miscarriage?
- How can I stop worrying about miscarriage in early pregnancy?
- How long can I expect morning sickness to last?
It might be easier said then done, but your first prenatal or antenatal appointment is an exciting time, so even though you may be nervous or anxious, you should try and enjoy what should be a special and memorable day.
To help prepare, write down a list of questions you’d like answered, and don’t be afraid to ask anything – there’s definitely no silly questions and you certainly won’t be judged or made to feel embarrassed at any time.
Your appointment will probably last between 30-60 minutes, and having your partner with you may help calm your nerves.
By the end of the appointment you should hopefully feel relieved and encouraged, particularly because a medical expert has spent the time doing everything necessary to set you up for the best possible care during your pregnancy.
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