Wow, those words can sound scary and exhilarating at the same time.
So many things could go wrong and so many have gone right!
According to the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, your actual antepartum care begins around eight or nine weeks when an OB gets your comprehensive medical history and you receive a full physical examination and various screenings.
If you did not meet with your health care provider before you were pregnant, your first prenatal visit will generally be around 8 weeks after your LMP (last menstrual period). Even if you are not a first-time mother, prenatal visits are still important since every pregnancy is different. This initial visit will probably be one of the longest. It will be helpful if you arrive prepared with vital dates and information. This is also a good opportunity to bring a list of questions that you and your partner have about your pregnancy, prenatal care, and birth options.
Regardless of when that first appointment takes place, start acting pregnant once you get that positive result at home. You may be familiar with the basics, but don’t hesitate to call your practitioner’s office if you need to brush up. And if the wait is of concern because you feel your pregnancy may be high-risk (because of a chronic condition or a history of miscarriages, for example), check in with the office to see if you can come in earlier. If you haven’t yet chosen a doctor or midwife to care for you during your pregnancy, it’s still important to see a pregnancy caregiver now and get started on your prenatal care.
You can always switch to another caregiver when you find the one you want to stick with.
Your doctor will ask for your medical history, including:
- Medical and/or psychosocial problems
- Blood pressure, height, and weight
- Breast and cervical exam
- Date of your last menstrual period (an accurate LMP is helpful when determining gestational age and due date)
- Birth control methods
- History of abortions and/or miscarriages
- Medications you are taking
- Medication allergies
- Your family’s medical history
Be prepared to get a lot of information during that first visit. It is meant to orient you and your family with your pregnancy and your care team.
Your healthcare provider will also perform a physical exam which will include:
- A pap smear
- Cervical cultures
- An ultrasound, if there is a question about how far along you are or if you are experiencing any bleeding or cramping.
You will be drawing blood for a variety of purposes.
Blood will be drawn and several laboratory tests will also be done, including:
- Hemoglobin/ hematocrit
- Rh Factor and blood type (if Rh negative, rescreen at 26-28 weeks)
- Rubella screen
- Varicella or history of chicken pox, rubella, and hepatitis vaccine
- Cystic Fibrosis screen
- Hepatitis B surface antigen
- Tay-Sachs screen
- Sickle Cell prep screen
- HIV test
- Hemoglobin levels
- Hematocrit levels
- Specific tests depending on the patient, such as testing for tuberculosis and Hepatitis C
Your healthcare provider will probably want to discuss the following:
- Recommendations concerning dental care, cats, raw meat, fish, and gardening
- Fevers and medications
- Environmental hazards
- Travel limitations
- Miscarriage precautions
- Prenatal vitamins, supplements, herbs
- Diet, exercise, nutrition, weight gain
- Physician/midwife rotation in the office
Thankfully, due to medical advancements, doctors acknowledge a woman’s mental wellness nearly as much as her physical well-being. Given its importance, your doctor will probably follow questions regarding your physical history with questions about your psychological history. Remember that it’s vital to your health and the health of your baby that you are completely honest with your doctor. Now is the time to debrief your doctor on anything related to your mental health.
Once your doctor knows your physical and mental history, he or she will ask about your family’s history, as well. Your doctor will want to know whether any of your relatives have faced any serious or chronic diseases. Many of these health issues can be hereditary, so it’s important to your doctor to uncover those genetic abnormalities that could be problematic. This includes any mental struggles or diseases.