Preparing for Your First Prenatal Visit
Congratulations on your pregnancy!
Your life is about to change forever. There’s excitement, anticipation, and yes, a little nervousness, too. We encourage you to contact us after you get a positive result on a home pregnancy test. The sooner you schedule a confirmation appointment, the sooner we can get you and your baby started on a healthy journey together.
We’re thrilled to be taking this journey with you, and we know a million questions may be running through your head, especially if this is your first baby. Therefore, we’ve provided some useful information on preparing for your first prenatal doctor visit with our obstetrics doctors in Raleigh.
Times have changed. We want you to contact us as soon as you have a positive pregnancy test so you will have time to make decisions about optional testing that is available in the first trimester.
The initial prenatal consultation and lab work usually take about 45 minutes.
Tips for Preparing for Your First Prenatal Visit
Be Ready for a Lot of Questions
We know you have a lot of questions—we do too! We will ask many questions about your medical history, the father of the baby’s medical history. This information will help ensure that you will have a healthy pregnancy. We’ll also ask about each of your family’s medical histories to see if your baby may be at risk for any inherited medical conditions.
It is important for us to have the complete picture so we can provide the highest possible level of care.
Below are some examples of questions we will ask at your first prenatal visit:
What medications you are taking?
Depending upon what they are, you may need to stop taking them and switch to a medication that is safer to take in pregnancy or adjust the dosage for the health of your baby.
Are you taking any herbal supplements?
Just because it’s “natural” doesn’t always mean that it’s safe. We want to have all the information needed so we can be sure that the supplement isn’t going to hurt your baby’s development or interact with any of the medications you’re taking. It is vital that we have an accurate list of supplements that you are taking to ensure safety for you and your baby.
Are you allergic to any medications? Do you have any other allergies?
We want to check with you to be sure we have the most recent information about any medication allergies you may have.
What is the date of your last period?
We use this to help us determine the due date.
Do you have a history of miscarriages or difficult pregnancies?
Do you or the father of the baby have any family history of heart defects or genetic abnormalities?
How are you feeling?
Do you have a history of depression or anxiety? If so, please let us know. We want to care for your mental as well as physical health during your pregnancy journey.
Do you consume alcohol, tobacco, caffeine or any other drugs?
We encourage you to be absolutely honest with us so we can provide the best level of care possible and ensure that your baby’s health is also optimized.
Make a List of Questions to Ask
At your first prenatal visit, we don’t want to be the only ones asking questions. This is an opportunity for you too.
When is the due date? What type of vitamins do I need to be taking? Am I having a normal pregnancy? These are all important questions, and with the anticipation of having a baby, it’s easy to forget some. We suggest that you make a list of items you want to discuss and even take notes during your appointment.
If you find that there’s something you forgot to ask at your first prenatal visit. Just contact us, and we can either answer your questions through our portal’s secure message system or over the phone.
Write Down a List of Medications and Supplements You Take, as Well As the Dosage
This will provide important information we need to help you.
You are Welcome to Bring Your Partner or Support Person
We understand that having a baby—whether it’s your first or your third—it is a lot to process and no two pregnancies are alike. Sometimes, it can help to have someone with you not just for support, but to help you remember any important information.
Other FAQs About Your First Prenatal Doctor Visit
We know that you still have a lot of questions, and we’ll take them one by one. Here are a few that we frequently hear:
When can I hear my baby’s heartbeat?
Often, we can find the baby’s heartbeat using a Doppler fetal monitor, which is a type of handheld ultrasonic device. Typically, you’ll be able to hear the heartbeat when you’re 12 weeks pregnant.
Don’t panic if it takes a while for us to find the baby’s heartbeat at first. Sometimes it can be more difficult to detect if you have a higher body mass index, or your bladder is too full.
Will I have an ultrasound?
You will have an ultrasound in the first trimester to confirm you due date, as well as a comprehensive anatomy scan around 18 weeks. Your first ultrasound typically follows the prenatal consult visit and will be scheduled as early as 6-8 weeks.
How often are prenatal visits?
Everyone is different, and your individual schedule will depend upon if you’re a high-risk pregnancy or if you have other medical issues. However, in general, you’ll have an appointment with us:
- Confirmation of Pregnancy – schedule this as soon as you have a positive home pregnancy test
- First Prenatal Visit Part 1: Prenatal Consult and Education
- First Prenatal Visit Part 2: Ultrasound and visit with MD
- Weeks 4 through 28: Visit with MD once per month
- Anatomy Scan: Between 18 and 20 weeks
- Elective 3D ultrasound: Optional, Between weeks 20 and 32
- Weeks 28 through 36: Visit with MD twice a month
- Weeks 36 to birth: Visit with MD once per week
What prenatal tests do I need?
Again, the tests you need depend upon your individual medical conditions. These tests are incredibly important because they allow us to identify health problems before they affect you or your baby. Because many of these conditions are easily treatable, we want to discover them as soon as possible.
Prenatal testing is done in the first, second and third trimesters. We typically test for:
- Gestational diabetes
- Immunity to certain diseases
- Sexually transmitted infections
- Cervical cancer
- Thyroid screening
Where will I deliver my baby?
We provide hospital services at Rex Healthcare
Associates in Women’s Healthcare: Healthcare for Women by Women
We know that there’s a lot of ground to cover during a prenatal visit, and we hope this information has helped prepare you. Know that we are always available for any questions you have, particularly if they are not addressed here.
We will work with you to develop a care plan that is right for you and your baby. Contact us today to schedule an appointment.
This article was reviewed by Dr. Jessica Son.