The First Prenatal Appointment: What to Expect
Curious what to expect - and what conversations to have - at your first prenatal appointment? Learn more here and be fully prepared!
Things to Consider at Your First Prenatal Appointment
Congratulations, Mama! You recently found out that you're expecting a new addition to your family and have probably taken anywhere from one to many at-home pregnancy tests. The very first prenatal appointment with your doctor or healthcare provider is a special, exciting time and experiencing a range of emotions is totally normal, especially if you're a first-time mom-to-be. You may be wondering what you should expect at this first appointment, including what conversations you'll be having with your healthcare provider. In the midst of all the excitement, it can be difficult to remember what questions to ask while on the spot and what important information should be relayed to your provider at this time. Rest assured that your doctor, OB-GYN practice, and all healthcare providers along for your journey are here for you. Their jobs are to ensure that you and your new baby are cared for and supported during your pregnancy, so your experience can be as stress-free as possible.
Though every doctor, healthcare provider, and practice is different, here's a list of what could happen at your first prenatal appointment:
- Your doctor or practitioner will interview you about your medical, sexual, and family history and may also ask for the same information about your partner or the baby's other parent. This is to obtain a comprehensive history and determine if there are any factors that could put you or the baby at risk for any prenatal or postnatal challenges.
- You may be asked to complete a urine screening to confirm your pregnancy and screen for components such as protein, sugars, certain hormones, and abnormalities like drug use or signs that could be indicative of pregnancy complications. Tip - be sure to arrive to your first prenatal appointment well-hydrated because you may be asked to complete the urine test first!
- Your doctor or practitioner may perform an ultrasound to identify, view, and measure the pregnancy for a more accurate estimated due date and to ensure it's progressing. Seeing your pregnancy for the first time is an incredible experience!
- In addition to the ultrasound, your doctor or practitioner may also perform a breast and pelvic exam, which might include a Pap smear, to screen for any abnormalities that could affect you or your pregnancy.
- Finally, you'll likely receive a general wellness exam or check-up, which often includes height and weight checks, a blood pressure screening, and blood work, all of which will serve as baselines for future prenatal appointments while providing additional insight into your overall health and physical state.
Though these guidelines shouldn't be considered a comprehensive list and your provider may opt to perform a few, some, or all the above, this list provides a general idea of what you could expect during your first prenatal appointment. It may be beneficial to start thinking of questions a few days ahead of time and write them down as they come to mind, so you don't forget to ask any important ones during your visit. Questions such as the following are all great conversations to start right away with your healthcare provider:
- What you should and shouldn't be eating
- What vitamins, supplements, and medicines are acceptable to continue taking and which ones aren't
- What types of exercises are encouraged during pregnancy and which exercises you should steer clear from
- How any conditions, such as Celiac Disease, diabetes, or anxiety, may affect your prenatal journey
Considering Breastfeeding? Bring it Up Now!
Amongst other important conversations to begin with your doctor, intending to breastfeed after the baby is born is another essential discussion to approach early on - even at your first prenatal appointment. Your healthcare provider may be able to refer you to breastfeeding classes, put you in touch with local lactation consultants, and provide any educational recommendations to further prepare you for breastfeeding while helping you learn about its proven benefits to you and your baby.
Some moms experience common challenges when learning to breastfeed, so setting your expectations and understanding these challenges ahead of time - so you can be best prepared for them after your baby is born - may help you breastfeed more efficiently. There are some risk factors involved that may affect your ability to build and maintain ample breast milk supply, so speaking to your healthcare provider well in advance can help you both identify if any of these factors could influence your breastfeeding experience. These conversations are important to address, so you can have the best breastfeeding start possible once your little one arrives!
Another great place to start educating yourself on breastfeeding is by exploring Breastfeeding University, at your convenience and from the comfort of your own home. This collection of online courses and videos is self-paced, so it's easy to fit into your schedule between work, family, and other responsibilities. You can also learn just how quickly your body begins preparing to produce breast milk once you are pregnant through this brief, minute-long video. Finally, you can also download helpful apps like Medela Family and Expectful now, both of which can support you through your pregnancy, breastfeeding journey, and postpartum experience.
Additionally, you may be able to order your insurance-covered breast pump very soon (depending on your insurance plan). Ordering your breast pump early can help you prepare for your little one and become familiarized with the pump, its parts, and how it works - best of all, Medela can help with the process! Many moms-to-be are also able to tap into their FSA or HSA accounts to purchase breast milk feeding supplies, accessories, or even a back-up breast pump, which allows you to get a head start on stocking important supplies at home before your baby arrives. This way, you can focus solely on what really matters once he or she is born - bonding and learning to breastfeed together.