What to Expect at your First Prenatal Appointment

By Sarah Carvajal

June 2, 2020

My name is Sarah Carvajal. I am The Mama Coach in for Vaughan, Markham and Richmond Hill in Ontario. I'm a Registered Nurse, Sleep Coach, Lactation Counsellor, Prenatal Educator, Mama to one and passionate about making motherhood easier. ,I can't wait to support you and in your parenting goals!

Congratulations mama! You’ve taken an at home pregnancy test and turns out, you have a bun in the oven! After you jump up and down with excitement, now what?

Well it’s time to call your primary care physician and book your first prenatal appointment! Timely and good prenatal care will help set you up for a healthy pregnancy and baby.

So here’s what you can expect once you get there:

Medical history review

    • Likely you and your doctor will go over your medical history. You will be asked questions about:
    • Your menstrual cycle, gynecological history and any past pregnancies
    • Your personal (physical and mental) and family medical history
    • Medication use, including prescription and over-the-counter medications or supplements
    • Your lifestyle, including any use of tobacco, alcohol, caffeine or any recreational drugs
    • Any recent travel (to determine exposure to infectious diseases such as Zika or Malaria)
    • Exposure to potentially toxic substances

Due date
Yay! You can officially start counting down the days! You and your doctor will figure out when your due date is. This is calculated by using the date your last period started. The due date is not the exact date you will give birth, but an estimate of when you are 40 weeks, or full term.

Knowing when you due date is, allows your doctor to closely monitor your baby’s growth and the progress of your pregnancy, as well as schedule tests or procedures at the most appropriate times.

It also helps you plan for things such as: appointments, work, maternity leave, when to take your prenatal class, etc. (If you’d like more information on when to take a prenatal class CLICK HERE– A Mama Coach in your area would be so happy to provide you with one!)

Physical exam
You will also have a physical exam. This will vary depending on when your last physical exam was, but generally your doctor will check your:

        • Height and weight
        • Blood pressure
        • Heart rate
        • BMI (body mass index) – this helps determine the recommended weight gain you need for a healthy pregnancy

      Your doctor may also perform a breast exam, pelvic exam, and screening exams of your heart, lungs and thyroid. You might need a Pap test to screen for cervical cancer as well, depending on how long it’s been since your last screening.

      Lab testing
      At your first prenatal visit, you will have some bloodwork drawn and you will need to provide a urine sample. Depending on the resources at your physician’s office, sometimes these are done at the same time as your visit, or you will be given a requisition to take to a lab to complete the tests.

      Types of bloodwork usually drawn include:

        • Blood type (including Rh status- which is an inherited trait referring to a specific protein on your blood cells.)
        • Hemoglobin (can determine if you have anemia)
        • Immunity and exposure to certain infections
        • You will also likely be given a referral for your first ultrasound. This is called your “dating ultrasound” and is typically booked between 7-12 weeks.


      Lifestyle issues
      You will also have the opportunity to discuss things like the importance of nutrition and taking prenatal vitamins if you haven’t started already. Other issues like workplace safety and the use of medications may also be covered. If you had questions about exercise, sex, dental care, vaccinations and travel during pregnancy, feel free to discuss these with your doctor as well.

      Normal discomforts of pregnancy
      This may be your first visit, but you may have already started experiencing some discomforts of pregnancy. Things like nausea and vomiting as well as breast tenderness are common. You can talk to your doctor about how to manage these normal discomforts.

      Your first appointment covers a lot of information, so make sure you set aside time for the visit. Your health care provider wants to make sure you and your baby are well taken care of, so don’t hesitate to ask any questions that you have!

      And if you would like your partner or another support person to join you, always be sure to check in with the clinic! Your first prenatal visit will be a memorable one! A stepping stone on your journey into motherhood! And if you have any questions about your pregnancy, how to prepare for your sweet babe’s arrival, contact your local Mama Coach! We are all Registered Nurses and we would be happy to support you during this exciting time!

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