Congratulations, you’re expecting! You are about to experience one of the most amazing journeys of your life and as a mom. Your first prenatal visit is now approaching and you may be nervous not knowing what to expect.
Your first pregnancy can be just as overwhelming, as it is exciting. It is full of unknowns and if you are a planner like me you NEED to know what you are getting yourself into and what awaits.
Below we will talk about how to prepare for your first prenatal visit, what to expect at your first visit, and prenatal visits throughout your pregnancy.
Your First Prenatal Visit
You should contact your doctor for an appointment as soon as you suspect you are pregnant or have a positive at-home pregnancy test.
Your first prenatal visit will be scheduled based on:
- how far along you were when you found out you were pregnant
- your OB office
- your health insurance company
Generally, you will be scheduled for your first appointment for around 8 weeks. I didn’t see my OB until I was around 12-13 weeks, so don’t stress – I know this can seem later than expected.
Your first prenatal visit can be slightly overwhelming. There is A LOT that your doctor may go over with you and a pretty insane amount of paperwork you will have to fill out. Here’s what you can expect:
Paperwork At Your First Prenatal Visit
Your OB needs to know your medical history, your lifestyle, and your family history to be able to give you and your baby the best care. Unfortunately, that means filling out tons of paperwork.
Some common things they will want to know are:
- health, diet, and allergies
- any medications you take
- family medical history – this is important and I encourage you to ask your parents and your partner’s parents if their family has any history of major medical conditions before your appointment (this helps the OB determine if you need certain genetic testing or if you need to be monitored more closely during your pregnancy)
- pregnancy history
- how you are feeling -some OBs include a depression screening or may ask if you feel safe at home, etc.
Your First Prenatal Physical Exam
Once you head back to see your OB, the first thing either the nurse or doctor will do is get a set of vitals and do an overall exam. The exam is likely to include:
- blood pressure – small changes in your blood pressure are normal during pregnancy
- height and weight measurements
- a pelvic exam and/or pap smear
- swelling around your ankles, feet, and hands
Now the exciting part…they’ll want to take a peek and listen in on baby. They’ll check:
Fundal height – this is how they measure the size of your uterus as you and your baby grow. They will measure the outside of your belly from the bottom of your ribcage to the top of your pubic bone with a measuring tape.
Baby’s heartbeat – depending on how far along you are (and your doctor) they will check the little’s one heart rate using a vaginal or abdominal ultrasound.
Having a vaginal ultrasound isn’t as frightening as it sounds (or looks – my husband was totally freaked out by the doppler they use lol). It’s not painful, just uncomfortable!
Tests You’ll Have Done At Your First Prenatal Visit
You will have both a blood and urine test done at your first prenatal visit – and at other visits.
The urine test is usually given at your OB office before you head back to see him or her. The urine test checks for:
Screening your urine at the first prenatal visit – and other visits – helps the OB indicate if there are any problems going on.
The blood test is usually done at a lab. You will have blood tests done multiple times throughout your pregnancy – each for different reasons your OB will explain to you, but at the first prenatal visit they are checking for:
- blood type
- rH factor
You will be given a lot of information on how to stay healthy during your pregnancy and what to expect as the baby grows and your body changes.
The OB will prescribe you a prenatal vitamin. If you are having serious issues with nausea/ vomiting, then ask your OB about being prescribed a vitamin B6 supplement to help.
How to Prepare for Your First Prenatal Visit
Write down any questions you have for your OB. I did this on the notes app on my phone. You will soon learn “pregnancy brain” is a real thing and the second your OB asks if you have any questions you will forget everything you were sure you’d remember.
Start an OTC prenatal vitamin. Your OB will prescribe you one at your first prenatal visit, but folic acid – in most prenatal vitamins – is extremely important for the early development of your baby’s brain and spine. So I encourage you to start one right away. Here are a few of my favorite prenatal vitamins:
- Nature Made Prenatal Vitamin
- SmartyPants Organic Prenatal Vitamins
- Mary Ruth’s Liquid Prenatal Vitamin
Eat healthy and stay hydrated.
When Will You Go To Prenatal Visits?
The frequency that your OB will see you throughout your pregnancy is again dependent on them and your insurance.
Here is kind of the typical schedule they follow:
- 1 checkup each month for the first 6 months
- 2 checkups each month during month 7 and 8
- 1 checkup each week in the 9th month
- 1 checkup 6 weeks after the baby is born (your postpartum visit)
What to Expect at All Your Prenatal Visits
The rest of your prenatal visits will be fairly similar to how the first prenatal visit went. Your OB doesn’t go over as much, so your visits can be a bit shorter. Some things to expect include:
Height and weight – Your weight will be measured at every appointment so the doctor can get a glimpse at how the baby is growing and prevent your risk of developing pregnancy complications.
Excessive weight gain during pregnancy is linked to gestational hypertension, gestational diabetes, and complications at labor/delivery.
Calculate your BMI here and then use the chart below to get an estimate of how much weight you should expect to gain – the same thing your doctor will be looking at.
If you have any concerns about your weight gain, then talk to your OB at your next visit or you can reach out to me privately here.
Blood pressure – this is to monitor for gestational hypertension (or high blood pressure during pregnancy).
Ultrasound – they will check on your fluid level, baby’s heartbeat, and later on the position of the baby.
Tests To Expect During Your Pregnancy
You will be given a variety of different tests throughout your pregnancy journey. Here are some of the most common test that you can look forward to:
20-Week Anatomy Scan
The anatomy scan is basically just a long ultrasound appointment where they will take multiple different pictures of your little one to ensure they are growing well and there are no physical deformities.
The ultrasound technician will also confirm your due date based on the baby’s size.
You will find out the sex of your baby during the anatomy scan – if you decide to do so.
If you are impatient, like me, you can visit an elective ultrasound studio to find out the sex earlier.
With my second they offered to test for the sex of the baby during my initial blood screening – since it was now covered by my insurance.
Glucose Tolerance Test
A glucose tolerance test checks for gestational diabetes – a temporary (usually) case of diabetes that is brought on by pregnancy.
You will have to fast, drink a sugary glucose drink, and then have your blood drawn. This test is usually given around 24-28 weeks.
Group B Strep Test
Group B Strep (GBS) is a natural bacteria that can be found in many places around your body. It can grow on the outside of your vagina, anus, and perineum.
GBS is NOT an STD, so don’t freak out if you test positive.
When you get near your due date your OB will swab for GBS – or have you swab yourself.
If you happen to test positive your OB will give you an antibiotic – usually penicillin – when you go into labor to ensure that the baby doesn’t get an infection during delivery.
Let’s Wrap It Up
Hopefully the information I have given you will help you feel more comfortable and prepared for your first prenatal visit. Remember that prenatal care is very important for you and your baby throughout your pregnancy journey and you should make it a point to keep on top of going to all your appointments.
To help prepare for your first visit:
- Talk to your family and your partner’s family about important family history
- Write down any questions you have for your OB in the notes app of your phone
- come hydrated since you will likely be asked for a urine sample