What To Expect From Your First Prenatal Checkup

Maybe you’ve noticed that you haven’t gotten your period in the past six weeks, or something just feels different. Or perhaps you’ve taken a pregnancy test and it came up positive. Either way, you just feel, well, pregnant.

As soon as you have a remote suspicion about being pregnant, it’s time to schedule a prenatal appointment. It can be with a general practitioner, obstetrician/gynecologist (ob gyn), or a midwife. Whether this is your first time getting pregnant or your fourth, you and your health care provider will have a lot of things to discuss. This is your first prenatal checkup, and you may want your partner to be with you at this meeting.

A Thorough History

One of the first things your health care provider will go over with you is your medical history. Expect to field several questions about your menstrual cycle, including the duration, regularity, and heaviness of the cycle. Also, whether you have symptoms like pain or other things that just don’t seem normal. You’ll also be asked about whether you use birth control, past pregnancies, and sexual history, including infections, partners, and whether you’re being monogamous.

Be prepared for some unexpected questions as well. You’ll also be asked about family medical history, past personal medical history and diet, supplements, and Taboo topics such as domestic abuse, and abortion may even come up. Remember that even though some of these questions may seem invasive, honesty is the best policy, and your OB GYN is there to help you, not to judge you.

You’ll also determine your expected due date. This is vital information to monitor how your pregnancy is progressing, as well as to plan for the next few checkups in the following months. While this is usually estimated using your the first day of your last normal menstrual period, sometimes a low abdominal ultrasound exam may be needed if your periods aren’t regular.

Physical Examination

A complete physical examination is important to assess your overall health. Your weight, height, and blood pressure are part of this exam, which can sometimes be lengthy. Also, be prepared to have your vagina and cervix examined for any abnormalities. You may also need a Pap smear to determine if you are at risk for cervical cancer.

Laboratory Tests

During the first prenatal visit, there are several blood tests that may need to be done. Your blood type as well as Rh status will be determined. Rh factor, or Rhesus factor refers to a surface protein on red blood cells. If you have Rh-negative blood, and the fetus is Rh-positive, then your immune system may treat your developing baby as a foreign substance and make antibodies to mount an attack. Therefore, blood typing is essential.

Other blood tests that would be done are hemoglobin levels, checking your immunity to rubella and varicella (i.e. chickenpox) as well as exposure to hepatitis B, HIV, chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis. You should also undergo a urine sample to determine whether you have a urinary tract infection.