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Your First Prenatal Visit

It's only natural that you're anxious about your first prenatal visit. But don't let that stop you from scheduling an appointment as soon as possible. This meeting helps your doctor learn as much as possible about you and your baby. All these things can help to determine whether you have any particular problems or risks that need to be considered.

Your first prenatal visit will be longer and more involved than other visits. It will include:

  • Discussing your medical history
  • Administering tests and a physical exam
  • Estimating your due date

Your doctor will ask lots of questions during your first visit. It is essential that you answer these questions to the best of your ability; your answers may provide clues to possible complications. Expect to be asked about your health history, and the history of your family, the baby's father, and his family. Your doctor will also ask about your lifestyle and any past pregnancies. Be prepared to answer these questions:

1. Do you take any medicines?

2. Do you have any allergies or health problems?

3. Have you been exposed to any infections?

4. What are your periods like?

5. When was your last menstrual period?

6. What type of birth control have you used?

7. Do you drink or smoke?

8. Do you work at a dangerous job?

9. Have you been pregnant before?

10. Have you ever had a miscarriage?

11. Have you ever had an induced abortion?

12. If you have had a baby before:

  • What did the baby weigh at birth?
  • How long did labor last?
  • Was it a cesarean delivery?
  • Were there any problems?

13. Is there a history of birth defects in your family?

14. Have you had a previous child with a birth defect?

15. What is your ethnic background? What is the ethnic background of the father?

While discussing your medical history can provide clues about future complications, this testing is used to detect current problems in you or your baby.

During your first visit, you will probably have:

  • Blood tests to check for blood type, Rh factor, anemia, syphilis, rubella, Hepatitis B.
  • Urine tests to give information about levels of sugar and protein or possible infections.
  • A Pap test to check for changes of the cervix that could lead to cancer.

Your doctor may want to perform other tests too, based on your history, family background, and race. Your doctor might also ask you if you want to be tested for HIV, AIDS, or other sexually transmitted diseases.

During the physical exam, your doctor will measure your height, weight, and blood pressure. She will also check your:

  • Ears, eyes, nose, throat, and teeth
  • Thyroid and lymph nodes
  • Heart, lungs, breasts, back, and abdomen
  • Arms, legs, and skin

Your doctor will then do a pelvic exam to check your cervix, vagina, ovaries, fallopian tubes, and uterus. This examination will enable your obstetrical care provider to evaluate the size of your uterus in relation to the date of your last period to be sure the pregnancy is progressing as it should.

Also during this first visit, the doctor will try and predict your due date. This is also referred to as the estimated date of delivery, or EDD, or the estimated date of confinement, or EDC.

An average pregnancy is 280 days, or 40 weeks, from the first day of the last menstrual period. However, a normal pregnancy can last between 37 weeks and 42 weeks. Only about 5 percent of babies are born on their exact due date. Most women give birth within two weeks of the predicted date.

The due date helps your doctor measure the growth of the fetus and the progress of your pregnancy. It also helps set the timing for some tests that are most accurate when they are done at certain times in pregnancy.

Source: American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists

All content here, including advice from doctors and other health professionals, should be considered as opinion only. Always seek the direct advice of your own doctor in connection with any questions or issues you may have regarding your own health or the health of others.