Your first prenatal visit is often a whirlwind of questions, tests, and measurements, so it pays to be prepared. Here we share when to schedule that first prenatal appointment, and what you can expect when you get there.
You’ve peed on a stick, it was positive (yay!), and now you’re making an appointment to get this show on the road. Well, get ready, mama — the cast & crew of your pregnancy is set to grow from here on in. And it all starts with an early appointment with your healthcare provider. They’ll check you over and make sure you’re mentally and physically ready for what comes next. But what will that involve?
Let’s find out. Here we share what you need to know about your first prenatal visit.
Table of Contents 📝
- When to schedule your first prenatal visit
- The day arrives: So what happens at your first prenatal visit?
- What else do you need to know about your first pregnancy appointment?
- Your first prenatal visit — let’s get this show on the road
When to schedule your first prenatal visit
First thing’s first, when should you book that initial check-up?
Simple — as soon as you know you’re pregnant. Once you’ve taken a positive at-home pregnancy test or had it confirmed by your doctor, contact your local healthcare provider and make your first OB-GYN appointment. Receiving good quality prenatal care is a vital first step towards a healthy pregnancy.
How to prep for your first pregnancy appointment:
It could be a few days or weeks before you attend your first prenatal appointment, so in the meantime, act pregnant. This means cutting out alcohol, taking prenatal vitamins, and watching your diet. So-long, sushi!
Note: If you’re worried about the delay in seeing an OB-GYN, your family practitioner, or a midwife because you’ve experienced loss previously, stay in regular contact with your provider to see if you can get an earlier appointment slot.
Appointment booked — now what? It’s homework time, mama…
As soon as you have the date in your diary, we recommend grabbing a pen and paper and making some notes ahead of your appointment. That way you won’t forget anything or get caught off-guard.
Here’s what your doctor will ask about, so have your answers ready:
- Your full medical history, including major illnesses, surgeries, or hospitalizations
- History of pregnancies, abortions, or miscarriages
- The date of your last menstrual period (LMP)
- Your birth control methods
- A list of any medications, vitamins, and supplements you’re taking
- A list of your allergies (including medications)
- Your immediate family’s medical history
- Your partner’s medical history
It’s also worth noting that this appointment will probably be the longest and most overwhelming of your pregnancy (more on that in a moment), so it’s common for mamas-to-be to forget to ask questions.
Add yours to your notes so you remember. Here are a few worth asking:
- Who do I call if I have questions or concerns? (i.e., who is your point of contact?)
- What do you consider an emergency, and what should I do?
- How will my diet and exercise habits change?
- Which tests do you recommend?
- When is my next prenatal appointment?
You may also wish to discuss labor and delivery options at this stage. If so, you could ask about birthing plans, pain management, at what point labor will need to be induced, or why a Cesarean might be needed.
The day arrives: So what happens at your first prenatal visit?
Your first prenatal visit can feel like a never-ending barrage of questions, pokes, and prods, making it one of the most comprehensive appointments of your pregnancy.
But why is the first prenatal visit usually the longest prenatal visit?
Think of your pregnancy like running a marathon. This first appointment is day one of your pregnancy boot camp, where you’ll receive the guidance and care you need to make sure you’re physically and mentally ready for the journey ahead.
And while each practitioner has their own way of doing things, most will include the following in their prenatal assessments:
- A physical, checking your height, weight, heart, lungs, breasts, and abdomen. They will also take a baseline measurement of your blood pressure, check for any swelling, and assess your pelvis and the size of your uterus. You may undergo a pap smear and cervical cultures during this appointment, too.
- You’ll give a urine sample and enough blood to make a vampire blush. This will be used to check your blood type, white blood cell count, and blood sugar levels, among a variety of other tests.
- You may be screened to check if you’re a carrier for certain, common genetic conditions (such as sickle cell anemia, cystic fibrosis, or Tay-Sachs disease).
- And you may receive an STD test to screen for infections such as syphilis, chlamydia, gonorrhea, or HIV.
Excitingly, you’ll also get official confirmation that you’re pregnant during this visit. Bloods and urine will be tested to check your hCG (Human Chorionic Gonadotropin or “the pregnancy hormone”) levels.
And, even more excitingly, you’ll have your due date calculated based on the information you provide and the information your practitioner gathers during your visit.
Finally, once the medical history has been recorded and the tests are done and dusted, you’ll have a chance to chat about yourself, your baby, and what lies in store for you both in the coming weeks and months. Remember your list of questions (or better yet, get yourself a pregnancy diary or notebook to take to each appointment) and fill it with notes if there’s anything you want to remember going forward.
What else do you need to know about your first pregnancy appointment?
There’s a lot to cram in, so here are a few more prenatal appointment FAQs for mamas-to-be:
Do you have an ultrasound at your first prenatal visit?
It depends. Some practitioners offer it as standard, while others will wait until there’s more to see.
If there’s a question mark over how far along you are based on the info you’ve provided and the results of your tests — or if you’re experiencing any bleeding or cramping — you’ll probably receive an ultrasound to make sure everything is safe and well.
Is 12 weeks pregnant too late for the first prenatal visit?
Some mamas will have their first prenatal visit at 8 weeks, some at 10 weeks, some at 12. Don’t worry if things aren’t lining up perfectly with what you’re reading online. Just make sure you’re taking care of yourself and your baby until you get to your appointment.
Do they check for a heartbeat during the first pregnancy appointment?
Again, it depends on when you have your appointment and how far along you are. Don’t panic if your doctor or midwife can’t find the heartbeat right away — it might be too soon to be detected, or you could have a high BMI or a full bladder, making it difficult to find at this stage. It’s typical for the heartbeat to be found consistently from week 14 onwards.
Your first prenatal visit — let’s get this show on the road
That’s it, mama! Everything you need to know about your first prenatal visit. If you have any questions or concerns, make sure you reach out to your healthcare provider — that’s what they’re there for. And if you want to chat to mamas who’ve been there and got the t-shirt, join Peanut for alllll of the advice and reassurance.