This is Part 2 in this series, if you missed Part 1 be sure to check it out! This post covers what to expect at your first prenatal appointment.
Your first prenatal visit will probably be the longest unless you encounter problems along the way. At this and all future prenatal checkups, don't be afraid to raise any issues you've been wondering about. If questions come up between appointments, it may help to keep a running list.
You will be asked about your health and habits. Be completely honest, especially about previous pregnancies, miscarriages, or abortions you have had, as well as any surgery on your cervix or uterus.
Write any questions you think of beforehand in a notebook and take to your appointment so you don’t forget to ask.
Your height, weight, and blood pressure will be measured. If possible, the baby’s size and heartbeat can be measured with an ultrasound/sonogram. Usually this is done in the first trimester and repeated at 18-20 weeks. Follow-up scans may be ordered as your pregnancy progresses.
You may have a pelvic exam, a PAP test, and a screening for STDs.
If you aren’t already taking prenatal vitamins, you will be asked to start right away.
Typical appointments are scheduled once a month until you are about 28 weeks, twice a month until 36 weeks, and thereafter weekly until the baby is born.
Call your prenatal caregiver right away for any of the following:
If your baby is moving and kicking less than usual
Pelvic cramping or pressure as if your baby is pushing down
Painful or burning urination, or blood in your urine
Spotting, bleeding, or vaginal discharge
Fever, chills, stomach pain, vomiting along with fever or pain
Shortness of breath, dizziness, weakness, or more tired than usual
Extreme sadness, hopelessness, or thoughts of harming yourself or your baby
Blurred vision, excessive thirst or urination
Sudden or persistent excessive swelling in your hands, face, or feet.
Rapid weight gain
Abdominal injury, such as from a fall or a car accident
Persistent intense itching of your torso, arms, legs, palms, or soles, or a feeling of itchiness all over your body
Persistent pain in your upper belly or shoulder, especially under the ribs on your right side
Flu exposure or symptoms. Let your provider know right away if you've been in close contact with someone who has the flu, or if you have any flu symptoms. These may include fever, sore throat, cough, runny or stuffy nose, exhaustion, and body aches and chills. You may also have vomiting or diarrhea. To minimize your risk of the flu, get the flu shot as soon as it's available in the fall. The flu is very risky for pregnant women.
Possible exposure to Zika virus. If you or your partner live in or have traveled to an area where Zika virus has been reported, tell your healthcare provider right away. It's important to be tested, even if you don't notice any signs of the disease. Most people don't have any symptoms of Zika, but when they do develop can include fever, rash, painful joints, pink eye (conjunctivitis), muscle pain, and headache.
Exposure to a communicable disease, like chicken pox or rubella, if you're not immune or show signs of infection. Call your provider to discuss your symptoms before going to the office.
Any other health problem that you'd ordinarily call your provider about, even if it isn't related to your pregnancy (like worsening asthma or a cold that gets worse rather than better). If you're near your due date, check out the signs of labor so you'll know what to look for and when to call.
Check out our blog next week for Part 3 which will include information on healthy foods and exercise options.
Enjoy the journey!
-LaWanda Williams, Client Services Director