What to Expect at Your First Prenantal Appointment
Are you getting ready for your first pregnancy appointment? Congratulations! I hope you’re surviving the first trimester.
Your first prenatal appointment is to confirm pregnancy, establish a due date, and make sure you’re doing everything you need to continue a safe, healthy pregnancy.
The appointment typically lasts 30-75 minutes depending on how busy your doctors office is and how many questions you have (first time mom with lots of questions, plan for a longer appointment).
What to wear to your first Prenatal Appointment
You will likely change into a hospital gown for a pelvic exam or ultrasound so it doesn’t matter very much what you wear. Choose something that is easy to take on and off but don’t stress about it.
When to make your first Prenatal Appointment
Go ahead and call your medical provider as soon as you find out you’re pregnant. They will let you know the best time to have your prenatal appointment scheduled for. Some offices won’t see patients until they’re at least 9 weeks along while others shoot for a first ultrasound and appointment at 12 weeks.
Questions to ask at your First Prenatal Appointment
Wondering what questions to ask at your first prenatal appointment? Read through this list (and go ahead and save this link on your phone) so you make sure to get all your questions answered!
What is my due date?
You might have calculated this yourself based on your last missed period or more detailed ovulation + conception tracking. Your first appointment is a great time to confirm your due date based on a dating ultrasound. Babies grow at very standard rates in the early weeks so the earlier this ultrasound is, the more accurate of a due date it will give you.
When do I need to contact the office? / What are the warning signs that I should be aware of that would require me to contact you or the hospital?
Your first appointment is a great time to go over what you can expect during the current phase of your pregnancy. It is helpful to know what things are normal and what things warrant an urgent call to your doctor.
For example, most doctors will explain that light spotting, cramping, and nausea during your first trimester is totally normal and not cause for concern. But, if you are bleeding heavier than a period, having severe cramps worse than your period, or not keeping liquids down for 12 hours, you should probably go to the hospital.
How do I get my non-urgent questions answered about pregnancy?
Does the office have a nurses line you can call? Is there a portal for you to send messages to your OB?
How frequent will my appointments be?
Appointment frequency generally change throughout your pregnancy and it is helpful to get an idea of the schedule. It is also good to know if things like ultrasounds and bloodwork are done in your office if you need to go to a different location.
What medications to I need to start/ stop?
Talk to your doctor about the prenantals you’re taking and if they have any recommendations. If you can, just bring the bottle along to your first appointment so they can go over them with you.
What over-the-counter medications are safe during pregnancy?
Always check with your doctor but, generally, these ones are considered safe for pregnancy:
- Acetaminophen (Tylenol) for headache, pain or fever
- Chlorpheniramine and tripelennamine for cold and allergies
- Vitamin B6 and doxylamine (Unisom) or Diclegis for nausea and vomiting
- Fiber supplement for constipation. (I like these gummies)
What vaccines do you recommend while I’m pregnant and why?
Whether or not you plan on getting vaccines while pregnant, it is good to ask your doctor what recommendations you can expect from their practice. Typically doctors will recommend a flu shot, TDAP, and as of 2022, a covid vaccine or booster.
How long can I work while I’m pregnant?
Depending on your line of work, you may need to have a discussion about what is safe and recommended for pregnancy.
What prenatal testing is available? What are the risks and benefits? What do you recommend and why?
Depending on where you live there are different prenatal testing options. It is very helpful to understand what these tests are, when in pregnancy they are available, and what the risks are associated with each test. Based on your health and family history, your OB might have different recommendations.
What diet changes do I need to make?
Talk to your doctor about recommended diet changes. Here are a few pretty standard recommendations for US doctors:
- No alcohol
- Limit caffeine intake (less than 200mg per day)
- No unpasteurized cheeses
- No cold deli meat
- No uncooked meat
I highly recommend the book “Expecting Better” by Emily Oster as you navigate this stage of pregnancy. She’s an economist and does an excellent job helping you understand the studies and risks behind each of these recommendations (so you are better equipped to make your own informed decisions).
Do I need to change my exercise routine?
Depending on your risk level, your health, and your current exercise routine, your OB may have some recommendations (but also, if you have an exercise routine at your first appointment, I’m impressed!).
Can I continue with my current beauty routine?
Talk through your current beauty routine (or just go ahead and bring any products you aren’t sure are safe for pregnancy). Typically doctors will counsel against using acne medication and anything with retinol.
Are there any other lifestyle changes you recommend?
This is a great time to ask about anything in your lifestyle you’re unsure of.
Hanging out with a lot of second hand smoke? Love remodeling and re-painting your house? Ask your doctor about it!
Some questions to have on hand for down the road:
- Can we talk about my birth plan? You certainly DON’T need to have details of your birth plan at your first visit but, if you have them, this is a good time to find out if your current doctor will be able to support/ accommodate that birth plan or if you should consider looking for another doctor.
- Who will deliver my baby? Is it important to you that you see the same doctor at each appointment and they are the one who delivers your baby? If so, this is the appointment to talk through who you will see for your care throughout your pregnancy and who will deliver.
- What support, if any, is available for breastfeeding moms?
- What are the chances of having a c-section?
- Will I be able to have an epidural? / Is there any reason I wouldn’t be able to get an epidural? This one was important for me because I had a few extenuating circumstances one pregnancy that made it unlikely I’d be able to get an epidural. This was really helpful to know so I could prepare for an unmedicated childbirth (can you imagine going in planning on an epidural and then hearing “oh, nope, not today!”).
- Are there birthing or newborn classes your doctor recommends or your hospital provides?
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