What To Expect During Your First Prenatal Appointment

So you may have just learned you have a big life change ahead! Learning you're pregnant is a special moment in time that can be both exciting and nerve-racking as you embark on your journey as a new mom in the making. Undoubtedly, one of the most important stops along the way is your first prenatal appointment.

Generally speaking, prenatal visits are an important part of your care throughout pregnancy and ensuring a healthy delivery, monitoring both mom's health and baby's growth, according to Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. Interestingly enough, while obstetrician-gynecologists are typically at the forefront of your prenatal care, other healthcare professionals may also include your family physician, a certified nurse-midwife, and a family nurse practitioner (via March of Dimes).

If you haven't already lined up your pregnancy healthcare team, you'll want to do this as soon as you learn you're pregnant. Most women have their first prenatal appointments between six and eight weeks, according to What to Expect.

What happens during the appointment?

Heading into your first visit and wondering what to expect is common for new moms. While some practitioners establish their own checklists, most providers follow a general framework for the first prenatal checkup.

First, your practitioner may perform a general health check-up that includes an exam of your major organs, including your heart, lungs, and breasts. Next, your doctor may run an extensive series of testing, starting with a pregnancy test. This test is usually performed via a urine or blood sample to both confirm pregnancy and check your hCG levels. Other common tests you can expect are blood sugar evaluation, STD testing, and a pap smear, according to What to Expect.

After your testing is complete, your doctor may give you a calculated due date and you may be asked about your health history. This is typically a good time to address any concerns you might have over the course of your pregnancy. One of the final steps of the first prenatal visit is the ultrasound, which for new moms can be one of the most exciting. This ultrasound will not only look for your baby's heartbeat, but it will also look for the possibility of another fetus as well, according to WebMD.

How to prepare for your visit

So now you know what to expect and you've got your appointment on the books. You may now be wondering what you can do to prepare for such an important appointment. Today's Parent first recommends putting things on paper. Do you currently take supplements or medication? Make a list of everything you're taking and including dosages and frequencies. 

Next, take note of your personal medical history. Factors that make up your history can include major illnesses or surgeries, mental health status and history, gynecological health history, and disease exposure, according to What to Expect. In addition to personal medical history, family history can also provide pertinent and helpful information. While you don't have to plot an entire family tree, it can be helpful if your doctor's aware of major health complications, diseases, or disorders that run on your side of the family. Don't forget to include information about your partner's side of the family as well.

Lastly, write down any questions you have and leave space on the page for answers. Often when we see a doctor and emotions are high and even if they're excited and happy emotions we're feeling, we can have a tendency to forget what was said. Writing answers down ensures you can always come back to important information later.