Why is it important to get prenatal care?
Prenatal care and frequent visits to your practitioner are important to help ensure the welfare of you and your baby. Each visit, you will be able to follow the progress of your baby’s development, make sure everything is going smoothly, and ask any questions you may have. Prenatal check-ups are not only about your medical care, although important, they are there for education, and even just for additional support.
When should I schedule my first prenatal check-up?
Your first prenatal check-up should be scheduled as soon as you suspect you are pregnant. Even if you have already taken a home pregnancy test, it is still advised to schedule an appointment as soon as possible. You want to make sure you and your baby have the best care available to you from the very beginning.
If you have not chosen an obstetrician yet, do not worry. You are not stuck with the first doctor you see. You may switch doctors at anytime. Right now, the only thing to worry about is making sure you and your baby are healthy.
Unless you have a medical condition, your first prenatal check-up will probably be scheduled around 8 weeks. If you are having any symptoms such as vaginal bleeding, nausea, abdominal pain, or any other concerns, please make sure to let your practitioner know. They may schedule you for a sooner appointment.
What should I expect during my first prenatal check-up?
The general purpose of your first prenatal check-up is to confirm your pregnancy and check your health. During this visit you may be able to determine your expected due date and look for any potential risk factors. Potential risk factors may include age, personal and family health history, previous pregnancies, or medication you have taken or are currently on. This is also a great time for you to ask any questions you may have about your pregnancy. Some suggestions would be anything including prenatal vitamins, symptoms you may experience, things you should avoid during pregnancy, and when you should call a doctor. Be warned, your first prenatal check-up will probably be the longest one!
Will my practitioner want to know about my full health history?
Your practitioner will likely ask you questions about your gynecological health, your emotional and mental health, your physical health, and any habits that may adversely affect your pregnancy. Be prepared to talk about your menstrual cycle, previous pregnancies, psychological problems, drug allergies, whether you smoke or drink, and any diseases that run in your family.
What prenatal tests should I be expecting to take?
You should expect to have a full physical and a pelvic exam, which will most likely include a pap smear, a bimanual internal exam, and possibly an ultrasound. Also be prepared for lots of lab work! Your practitioner is going to want to check for HIV, any other possible STDs, your immunity to Rubella and Chickenpox, and anything else that may pose a threat to your pregnancy.
Will my practitioner want a genetic and birth defect history?
Let your practitioner know if you, your husband, or anyone in either of your families were born with any chromosomal or genetic disorders, had any developmental delays, or any other defects. If you were drinking, smoking, had any toxic exposures, taking any medications, or even just sick or had a rash before finding out you were pregnant, or since your last period, make sure to tell them as well.
Will my practitioner explain my options for prenatal genetic testing?
There are quite a few methods for genetic screening and testing, some more invasive than others. You will most likely only have bloodwork and an ultrasound. The more invasive tests pose a risk for miscarriage, and are not recommended unless you are high risk, or your others tests have come back abnormal.
Who is available to council me or answer my questions?
Make sure to ask as many questions as you can. Ask about symptoms to look out for, what is normal or abnormal, which prenatal vitamins are best for you, foods you should avoid, weight gain, depression, and who to call if you have anymore questions concerns. There is no such thing as a stupid question, especially when yours and your baby’s life is at stake. So ask away!
And that is what you should expect during your first prenatal check-up.
For more detailed information please visit the following websites.
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Find more Articles, Resources, and Benefits for Parents at EPAOA.org.
By Lauren DiCamillo of Expecting Parents Alliance of America
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