First Prenatal Visit

What to expect at your first prenatal appointment

Aside from discovering you're pregnant, the first prenatal appointment is probably the most exciting, frightening and worrisome moment in early pregnancy. If you haven't been through it before, you're likely feeling some anxiety about the tests, your health and what comes next. And if you have experienced this event but do not look back on it with fond memories, you may be worried about going through it all again.

Luckily, the first prenatal visit can be a great opportunity to get the answers you're after and build up your confidence and excitement for the coming months. If you have been trying to conceive, book an appointment for about 4 weeks after you test positive (around 8 weeks after your last menstrual period); if your pregnancy has come as a surprise, try to see your doctor right away, as you'll need to have some tests done to ensure your body is prepared and on track for the pregnancy.

What Happens at the First Prenatal Visit?

Since every pregnancy is different, the first prenatal visit should cover a standard range of tests and information, whether or not this is your first baby. This will be a relatively long visit with your doctor or midwife, since you'll have to go over everything from your medical history and previous medications to your current habits and lifestyle. Be prepared to provide information on things like:

  • When the first day of your last period was (to determine an accurate due date)
  • Previous pregnancies and any pregnancy complications you may have had
  • Any symptoms you've been having
  • Environmental and drug allergies you may have
  • Past surgeries, psychiatric problems and chronic conditions
  • Bad habits, like smoking, alcohol abuse and drug use
  • Your family's medical history

Aside from this comprehensive interview, you'll have a physical exam and some blood work done to determine your reproductive health, screen for various genetic diseases and uncover the levels of certain blood proteins and your Rh factor. After the tests are conducted, you'll have a chance to discuss important parts of your pregnancy lifestyle and clear up any concerns you may have about what lies ahead.

Questions for your First Pregnancy Visit to the Doctor

Feel free to draft a long list of questions, and be as detailed as you like. It's better to have all your concerns resolved now rather than butt heads with your doctor down the road. Here are a few questions to start you off:

  • How will I need to change my nutritional habits and lifestyle?
  • What type of prenatal testing do you offer and do you suggest all tests for all patients?
  • How often will I need to visit you?
  • What do you consider to be an emergency?
  • What are your thoughts on natural childbirth?
  • Which situations would require a c section?
  • What is your policy on labor induction?

Some people dread a visit to the doctor, and if you're one of them, try to change your perception with this pregnancy. Be open and honest with your doctor, don't be afraid to bring up concerns and be as pleasant and optimistic as possible. You should expect your doctor to show you concern and respect, too. Since you'll be seeing a lot of each other for the next several months, treat this as you would any close relationship: if you find that you don't "click" with your care provider, find another one who you can trust and who makes you feel comfortable.