The time spent waiting for your first prenatal visit can seem like an eternity, with every passing second stretching longer than the previous one. But hey, as you count down the days to your first appointment, allow us to take your mind off the clock and let you in on the basics.
Your first prenatal appointment, usually scheduled around the 8-week mark, will help your doctor assess your health and the development of your baby. This visit can also shed light on potential risks or complications that may arise during the course of your pregnancy. Your doctor will likely learn more about your medical history during your consultation and also advise tests to gauge various health parameters. Your due date may also be determined, depending on how far along you are. Prenatal supplements are usually prescribed during this consultation.
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our medical history is likely to influence the outcome of your pregnancy, and also provide an insight into potential complications. You may be asked about your personal and familial medical profiles, any previous pregnancies or miscarriages, and general lifestyle habits.
Also, expect to be asked the following questions:
Do you suffer from any existing medical conditions?
Have you been prescribed any regular medication?
Do you have any allergies?
When was your last menstrual period?
How regular was your menstrual cycle?
Do you smoke or consume alcohol frequently?
Does your family have a predisposition to certain genetic conditions?
If you have children already, details about your previous pregnancy can help to determine the course of this one. Your baby’s birth weight, the length of labour and the nature of delivery can serve as important yardsticks.
Present Pregnancy Parameters
A range of laboratory tests will present vital clues about the progress of your pregnancy. Two primary sets of tests will be performed: blood tests to identify blood type, haemoglobin, thyroid and vitamin levels, and urine tests to gauge sugar and protein levels. If your doctor deems it necessary, you may also be advised additional prenatal testing to check for sexually transmitted diseases or other risky conditions.
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Your height, weight and blood pressure will form the framework of your physical assessment. Your ears, eyes, nose, throat, teeth, arms, legs and skin may also be checked as part of your prenatal screening. A pelvic exam may follow, to assess the health of your cervix, vagina, uterus, ovaries and fallopian tubes.
If indicated, this exercise is useful in understanding whether your pregnancy is on track and whether it corresponds to the date of your last menstrual period.
Possibly the most exciting part of your prenatal visit, your due date serves as the cherry on the cake. Pregnancy typically lasts 40 weeks from the first day of your last period, but every baby is different, and you can expect to deliver any time between your 37th and 42nd week.
A very small percentage of women actually give birth on their due date, so it’s worth treating the two-week window before and after your expected due date as priority periods. An ultrasound will confirm your due date by checking the size of your baby.
Once your due date is established, subsequent prenatal visits will reference the size and progress of the fetus against this date. As you prepare for your first prenatal visit, it’s natural to be anxious; worried even. Consider this a vital checkpoint in ensuring the progress of your baby. Once this is crossed off your calendar, your heart and head will feel a whole lot lighter. And your road to delivery will feel a whole lot shorter. For now, take a deep breath and keep the calendar aside. Your time is almost here.