Your First Obstetric Visit
Your first prenatal visit is likely to be the longest, because your health care provider will want to take a full medical history. Your clinician will ask you questions about the your health and lifestyle, your menstrual history, past pregnancies or miscarriages (if any), medication use, recent birth control methods, allergies and your partner's health and medical history.
You'll likely have a physical exam, which will include a pelvic exam to check pelvic size, changes in the cervix and the size and position of the uterus to confirm pregnancy and estimate fetal age. In some practices the first visit is split. A nurse may first obtain your detailed history and you may return later for a physical exam with your doctor, midwife or nurse practitioner.
During your first (or possibly second) prenatal visit, your clinician will want to do a variety of lab tests, which may include:
- A complete blood count to check for anemia and other problems
- Blood typing (A, B, AB or O)
- Rh-factor (positive or negative)
- Urinalysis and urine culture to test for sugar (indicating diabetes), protein (a sign of kidney problems) and infection
- Pap smear to screen for cervical cancer
- Tests for sexually transmitted diseases
- Test for rubella (German measles) immunity
- Test for hepatitis B antibodies to determine whether you are a carrier (The American Academy of Pediatrics now recommends immunization of all newborns against hepatitis B.)
- Test for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)
Before visiting the clinician for the first time, you and your partner may want to prepare a list of questions and concerns. The following are some sample questions:
- How does the practice support breastfeeding?
- Do you have any recommendations about my diet?
- Who will deliver my baby if you're not available?
- Which hospital will I deliver in?
- How can I reach you in an emergency?
- Any other concern you may have? Nothing is "too silly" to bring up with your health care provider.
Meanwhile, you may want to keep track of all of the exciting developments in your pregnancy or maintain your own personal medical record. Among the things you might want to record are:
- A graph of your weight from the start of your pregnancy to the end
- The date of your last period
- Your blood type and Rh factor
- The dates when you first feel your baby move and the doctor first hears your baby's heartbeat
- Descriptions of what your baby looks like during an ultrasound exam (or you can even get a copy)
- A record of the tests you have taken
- Your thoughts and feelings about pregnancy
- A description of the birthing experience