10 Must-Know Tips For Your First Prenatal Visit

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Updated February 5, 2022

Your first prenatal visit is so exciting! But you are not alone if you feel a little anxious too!

As an obstetrician, I want to share what I believe are the 10 must-know tips for your first prenatal appointment.

These tips will help you feel more prepared and less stressed about your visit with your OB/GYN or Midwife.

 

first prenatal visit

 

Your first prenatal visit will likely be your longest visit.

So when making the appointment keep that in mind.

 

 

 

10 Must-Know Tips For Your First Prenatal Visit

1. Bring in a chart of your menstrual history during the three months prior to your first positive pregnancy test.

  • Your due date will set the stage for the remainder of your pregnancy.
  • You will want to make sure to have as much information available at your first visit to help your provider establish an accurate due date.
  • If you have very regular 28-day menstrual cycles and your clinical exam is consistent with your due date based on your last menstrual period, your due date will likely be set for the remainder of your pregnancy.
  • The only way this date would be changed is if there was a significant difference between your menstrual due date and your due date by ultrasound (allowing for the margin of error, with earliest scans being the most accurate).

There are often many factors that can make the calculation of one’s EDC (due date) more difficult:

  • If you do not have a regular 28-day menstrual cycle.
  • If your menstrual cycle is was not regular during the preceding months due to stress, diet, or exercise. All of which can affect ovulation.
  • You have other complicating factors such as being on birth control pills at the time of conception or having a medical condition or medication that has interfered with your regular menstrual cycle.

* For these reasons, more testing. (blood tests, ultrasound)  may be necessary to accurately determine your due date.

Try to have as much of the following information available for your provider to help determine your due date at your first prenatal visit:

  • Keep a detailed calendar of your menstrual pattern. (If you have no record, offer the best information you can.)
  • Chart menstrual intervals. Mark the interval (days) from Day 1 to Day 1.
  • If you skip menstrual cycles, note how often this occurs.
  • If you took home pregnancy tests, mark the date you first got a positive pregnancy test.
  • Most importantly, write down the first day of your last menstrual period.
  • If you were taking hormonal birth control, note when you stopped.
  • Keep a record of infertility problems or treatments. (Presumably, if you were managed for infertility, your due date should be very accurate.)

 

2. Bring your partner.

What To Expect At First Prenatal Vi...
What To Expect At First Prenatal Visit at 6 Weeks And What Questions To Ask

Have your partner attend your first visit if possible.

If necessary, schedule your appointment later in the day. The amount of information discussed will be extensive.

Attempting to pass on all the details when you get home will be difficult.

Though you can write things down, there is nothing better than having your partner present should any questions arise.

 

 

3. Arrange childcare.

If you have children, make arrangements to have them cared for by a family member or childcare provider well in advance of your appointment.

If possible, have your childcare begin the day before.

Unforeseen events can come up in the morning and this can disrupt the flow of the entire day.

The worst scenario is that you miss your appointment and have to reschedule.

This might be alright for other health care appointments; however, when it comes to your first prenatal visit, there is a lot of time-sensitive information and testing to be done.

You will not want to have to reschedule.

Offices block off a lot of time for your initial prenatal appointment, so getting another appointment will cause a significant delay.

 

 

4. Get directions to the facility.

Many Women’s Health medical practices are part of a larger facility (hospital or medical office building).

Make sure to have clear directions to the medical facility and the location of the office within the building.

This information sounds very basic; however, I cannot count how many times prenatal patients have been late for their visit as a result of these logistical problems.

It is no one’s fault when this happens, but the delay can change the first prenatal visit into a far more hectic experience.

You want to make every effort to ensure that your first visit goes smoothly.

You will already feel enough anxiety/anticipation at your first visit, especially if it is your first pregnancy.

 

 

5. Make sure you get your prescription for prenatal vitamins.

You likely will have received your necessary prescription for prenatal vitamins, when you first booked your appointment.

Make sure when you leave your appointment you have received a prescription for your prenatal vitamins for the duration of your pregnancy.

 

 

6. Allow extra time for your first prenatal appointment.

Aside from your physical exam and bloodwork, you may find yourself getting an ultrasound to establish your due date.

Be prepared and expect your first prenatal visit will likely take a lot longer than planned.

It is most important to remember this as you have shorter visits later during your pregnancy.

There might have been an initial visit or emergency prior to your scheduled office visit.

Medical practitioners always try to keep on time but there are events that are not within their control.

As we have said many times, don’t hesitate to call ahead of your appointment to see if there is a significant delay.

Your provider would rather you be aware so you are spending the least amount of time in the waiting room.

At your first visit, you will be discussing a great deal of information:

  • You will be asked if there are any medical problems or inherited genetic conditions involving you or your partner and your family.

Your family history may bring out information that could be relevant to the testing and management of your pregnancy.

  • Your first prenatal visit will also be when you will determine your due date (also known as the estimated date of confinement or EDC).

Determining your due date may be easy or it may require additional information obtained through a blood test or ultrasound.

Establishing an accurate due date is very important because it may be used to make important medical decisions during your pregnancy such as premature labor.

NOTE: The use of ultrasound for determining your due date is most accurate in the first trimester.

The accuracy decreases by one week with each trimester:

For more information about using ultrasound to determine your due date go to:

What Every Pregnant Woman Should Know About Screening Ultrasounds

 

 

7. Be sure to eat before you go.

If your first prenatal visit is in the morning, make sure to have an adequate breakfast.

During pregnancy, your metabolism increases and you feel hungry mid-morning and mid-afternoon.

If you get your bloodwork the same day, it is often better tolerated if you are not hungry or dehydrated for these tests.

 

 

8. Prepare your pregnancy history before your appointment.

If you have had prior pregnancies, offer as much detail as you can about every pregnancy, whether you had a miscarriage or carried to term.

Prior pregnancy complications are particularly important, such as toxemia/preeclampsia, premature labor, gestational diabetes, bleeding problems, or bleeding conditions.

Prepare this information ahead of time.

As you prepare your pregnancy history, there will be questions that will come up.

Write them down and decide what questions you want to ask at your first prenatal appointment.

 

 

9.  Bring your immunization record with you if you have it.

Immunization histories are often unclear.

If you have any medical records documenting immunizations, bring the documents with you.

Immunization for hepatitis is just one example of where this can be helpful.

Interpreting tests to determine immunity can be confusing and inconclusive after immunization.

Immunization status must be established at your first prenatal visit.

 

 

10. Write down any questions you may have about possible exposure to toxic substances.

Any concerns about toxic exposures during the early stage of your pregnancy will be discussed at your first prenatal visit.

This includes exposure to medications, herbal supplements, occupational exposures, radiology tests, smoking, alcohol, or recreational drugs.

 

Other articles you may find helpful:

 

FAQ’s

 What do I take to my first prenatal visit?

  • You and your partner’s complete medical history.
  • Any forms you received ahead of your first visit.
  • A thorough history of your prior pregnancies and all relevant information including mode of delivery and any prenatal complications.
  • Medications you have taken during pregnancy.
  • Concerns about any hazardous exposures since prior to and after you confirmed you were pregnant.
  • Any information you believe might be helpful for your health care provider to know (medical or non-medical) about you and your partner.

 

Can I eat before my first prenatal visit?

You should eat a normal breakfast or lunch before your first prenatal visit.

There may be tests later in pregnancy, depending on your medical history or prenatal course that may require you to fast before your visit.

The best way to know is to call the office of your Doctor or Midwife and ask if you should fast before first your appointment.

This is because you will likely be out for a good part of the day and your increased metabolism during pregnancy can cause your body to go into a starvation state as is seen with a low carbohydrate diet.

The reason this question comes up so often is that routine blood testing is done at the first visit and many women wonder if they should fast for these blood tests.

There will be exceptions, the most common reason being diabetes or other medical conditions where blood tests can be affected by a recent meal. 

Even if there turns out to be an indication for you to fast (based on your medical history), the blood testing can be deferred to the next day.

 

can I eat before my first prenatal appointment

 

What Blood Tests Are Drawn At The First Prenatal Visit?

The following is a list of the most common blood tests drawn at the initial prenatal visit:

Blood Bank Testing 

  • Blood Type – A, B, AB, and O
  • Rh Factor – The Rh factor is a marker located on the surface of red blood cells. It is important to know if a mother is positive or negative for this factor. This is because if the baby is Rh-positive and the mother is Rh-negative then it is necessary to block the antibody response using a medication called Rhogam.

Blood Count

  • Hemoglobin and Hematocrit – This test checks for anemia and if it is found, most of the time it is iron deficiency anemia. However, if the anemia is not due to iron deficiency then further testing is done to check for other causes of anemia.

Immune Status

  • Rubella – also called German Measles is a viral infection now prevented as part of the MMR immunization vaccine. The status of maternal immunity to rubella is very important because maternal rubella infection during pregnancy can cause a serious syndrome called congenital rubella syndrome. This syndrome causes multiple defects in the newborn involving the heart, eyes, and other organs. Infection is most serious if it occurs during the first trimester of pregnancy.
  • Chickenpox – Chickenpox can cause serious problems if infection occurs during pregnancy. Fortunately, a vaccine has been developed for varicella. The blood test determines if you are immune to chickenpox whether it be due to having had the disease or having been immunized.
  • Toxoplasmosis – is an infection spread through infected cat feces. Many individuals who own cats and are involved with changing the litter box will have signs of immunity to this condition due to past exposure. This test is done on patients at risk for exposure to determine if they have had the infection. If it is positive, care must be taken during pregnancy to avoid contact with cat litter or litter box. This test is done because if infection with toxoplasmosis occurs during pregnancy it can cause defects in fetal development.

Sexually Transmitted Infections

  • Hepatitis B
  • Syphilis
  • HIV
  • GC
  • Chlamydia

 

What is the most common reason to fast before your first prenatal visit?

The most common reason to fast (not eat after midnight the day before your prenatal appointment) is to check your blood sugar if you have diabetes.

Fortunately, in most cases, those who have diabetes will be aware of this and be prepared so the blood that is drawn can be interpreted as a fasting blood sugar sample.

There are some other medical conditions that would benefit from getting fasting blood work.

However, this can be determined at the time of your first prenatal visit and drawn the next day.

One other such condition would be those who have a known history of very high lipids or familial hyperlipidemia.

In this case, the blood test at your visit which measures cholesterol and triglycerides is best-done fasting since recent dietary fat intake can affect the results.

 

Other laboratory tests at your first prenatal visit:

If possible, also have a full bladder at your first prenatal visit.

You will also be asked to submit a urine sample to the laboratory for routine urinalysis.

If your bladder is full, you can avoid having to wait in the lab until you can get a sample.

The urine test looks for signs of infection, it also checks protein, sugar, and ketones.

A full bladder is also helpful should you need an abdominal ultrasound at your first prenatal appointment.

Though ultrasound studies are often done transvaginally (very early in pregnancy), an abdominal ultrasound can offer some additional information if needed and the pictures are far better when an abdominal ultrasound is performed with a full bladder.

 

Final Thoughts

We hope this has helped you prepare for your first prenatal visit.

Bring your partner with you and plan for your visit to be close to an hour.

Breakfast or lunch is fine unless you need labs done while fasting.

Either way, bring a snack and a drink with you to have at your appointment.

Going without food for many hours during the day is better avoided.

In fact, this can result in your urine showing that you are dehydrated and ketotic because of your accelerated metabolism during pregnancy.

You’ll need to provide a urine sample and you can most often give it as soon as you arrive at the office.

Bring any questions you have, your medical history, and your insurance card with you.