Prenatal care simply means healthcare for a mother and baby before the baby is born. Since every pregnancy is different, prenatal care is important for every expecting mother, regardless of her age or medical history. Here’s what to expect at your first prenatal doctor appointment, and a few tips on how to make the most of your time with your doctor.
- Call ahead.
Your doctor will most likely want to schedule your first prenatal visit for about eight weeks after your LMP (Last Menstrual Period), so call your medical provider as soon as you discover you are pregnant. If you aren’t sure of the date of your last period, let them know. And don’t worry—your doctor is sure to have seen other patients in the same boat!
- Be prepared.
Be prepared for your first appointment to be one of the longest. If morning sickness makes errands miserable, consider bringing a snack with you to settle your stomach. If you have to use the bathroom while you are at the doctor’s office (or even in the waiting room!), ask if you’ll need to give a urine sample before you empty your bladder.
Once in the office, you’ll be asked to provide information about your pregnancy and medical history, so it’s a good idea to write down details such as:
- The date of your last period
- Medications you have taken during your pregnancy
- History of abortions and/or miscarriages
Also write down any questions you want to ask the doctor. If you’re worried about forgetting something, you can ask a trusted friend or family member to attend the appointment with you.
- Be honest.
Your healthcare team is there to help you have your healthiest pregnancy possible. They may order blood and urine tests to obtain information about your pregnancy and overall health. Some of the things they might test for include:
- How far along your pregnancy is (estimated due date)
- Your HIV status
- Whether you are a carrier for genetic diseases
- The presence of illicit drugs in your urine
While it may feel awkward or uncomfortable to discuss intimate details with doctors and nurses, being open and honest can help them help you.
Having a healthy pregnancy requires lifestyle changes for most women. Your doctor will make recommendations such as:
- Healthy diet, dental hygiene, and exercise
- Prenatal vitamins
- Precautions for gardening and cleaning cat litter boxes
- Foods, beverages, and environmental hazards to avoid