There’s so much joy, and plenty of anxious feelings, when you see the positive results from your pregnancy test. One of the first things you’ll need to do is make an appointment at your OBGYN. It always surprises first-time moms, but most physicians don’t even see you until you’re 8 weeks along (sometimes even further). Here’s what to expect at your first pre-natal appointment, PLUS questions that you should think about asking your physician about.
Breaking Down Your First Pre-Natal Appointment
I always encourage moms to speak up if you feel the need to be seen sooner than 8 weeks along. Ask for a sooner appointment if you’ve had prior problems with pregnancies, miscarriages or have existing medical conditions. Additionally, you’ll want to talk to call your doctor immediately with any bleeding or cramping issues.
If none of those issues apply to you, you’ll be seeing your physician at the usual 8-week time period. Before you go into your appointment, here are some things to take note of:
- Are you able to control your morning sickness or need medication?
- Do you need a prescription for pre-natal vitamins?
- Try to know the first day of your last period
- Make a list of any over-the-counter medications or prescription medications you currently take
Your First Ultrasound
Most likely, before you even see the physician, they’ll have you visit a technician for your first ultrasound. The imaging lets them see your baby to measure for growth, see the heartbeat (you usually don’t get a chance to hear it yet), see the baby’s heart rate, check your ovaries and see if your cervix is completely closed. They want to see a long, thick and closed cervix.
Secondly, most women don’t expect that their first ultrasound is trans-vaginal. This means that they’ll insert a probe into you for the ultrasound imaging. It doesn’t hurt at all. You don’t start abdominal ultrasound imaging until 10 – 11 weeks along.
The ultrasound is also used to evaluate the size and shape of your uterus. They will compare these findings with the estimated gestational age, or age of the baby. Don’t forget to ask for a few photos of your little one to take home!
First Pre-Natal Appointment Examination
When it comes to your actual exam, every doctor is different. You may need a Pap Smear if you haven’t had one recently and a physical pelvic exam. Some physicians are able to see everything they need to look at from the ultrasound and don’t require the pelvic exam. Definitely speak up if you feel like you need something looked at!
There are two things that all pregnant women need to get used to: having blood drawn and peeing in a cup. The urine analysis is something that you’ll have to do at every appointment.
The urine test is used to look for bladder or kidney infections, diabetes, dehydration, and Preeclampsia. It screens for high levels of sugars, proteins, ketones, and bacteria. High levels of sugars may suggest Gestational Diabetes, which usually develops around the 20th week of pregnancy.
Your bloodwork is used as a baseline in the beginning of your pregnancy and it’s also a great way for them to check your hCG levels.
Women who have previously miscarried or have concerns about their current pregnancy, are usually highly interested in their hCG Levels.
Check out the standard hCG levels per week for pregnant women by Healthline:
Questions To Ask Your Doctor At The First Appointment
The first time I was pregnant, I had so many questions to ask my doctor – I could’ve kept him for hours. Now that I’m on my third pregnancy, I knew what to expect that didn’t have any questions to ask. There are always some standard topics you should inquire about though.
Here are a few questions you might consider asking at your first pre-natal appointment:
- What pre-natal vitamin do you recommend for me?
- Are my ____ pregnancy symptoms normal?
- Can I continue my workouts?
- What should I avoid eating and drinking while pregnant?
- Is it OK to still be sexually active or do I need pelvic rest for any reason?
- Are these ____ over-the-counter medications OK?
- Is there any current advisories against traveling for pregnant women?
- Can you recommend anything for ______ pregnancy symptom?
- What red flags should I be on the lookout for?
- How does your after-hours phone system work?
There’s no such thing as a dumb question – especially when you’re a new mom. You really want to get to know your OB’s staff and make friends with them. Never be embarrassed to call and ask questions too. Sometimes you’ll go a month in-between appointments and need to ask a question.
After your first pre-natal appointment, you might want to speak the office financial director too. It’s best to make a plan and know what you’ll be expected to pay out of pocket. The last thing you’ll want is a surprise bill.
Good luck, Mama – you’ve got this!