Your pregnancy test is positive and nothing can stop the good mood you’re in – not even early pregnancy symptoms like morning sickness or fatigue. But it’s common to wonder what to do when you find out you’re pregnant.
Before you shout your news from the rooftops, take a little time to let it all set in. Then after telling your partner, it’s time to have a conversation with another important member of your team – your pregnancy doctor or certified nurse-midwife. Now’s the time to start your first trimester off right and schedule your first prenatal visit.
When should I schedule my first pregnancy appointment?
The timing of your first prenatal visit varies by clinic. There’s no right or wrong time. Most often, you’ll be seen for your first appointment when you’re 6-12 weeks pregnant. Yes, this seems like a really long time to wait, especially when you have so many questions!
How to prepare for your first prenatal visit:
1. Review your medical history
We will ask you about your medical history, your partner’s medical history and your family history. This is to make sure you have the best prenatal care plan for you and your baby. It’s also a good idea to bring a list of your current medications. Make sure to include any vitamins and over-the-counter medications you’re taking.
2. Write down your questions
It’s hard to remember everything. So, it’s a good idea to write down your questions and bring them with you to your first appointment. Check out our suggested list of questions here.
3. Take a prenatal vitamin
There are many good options for over-the-counter prenatal vitamins. Look for one with at least 400mcg of folic acid and make sure it includes DHA, which is a supplement that can help promote brain and eye development. DHA is also found in fish, so adding low-mercury fish to your diet is beneficial for you and your baby.
4. Take care of yourself
Keep yourself hydrated, well-nourished and well-rested.
But what if I have pain or bleeding?
If you have pelvic pain or vaginal bleeding at any time during your pregnancy, call your clinic immediately. It doesn’t always indicate a problem with your pregnancy, but it is important that we see you quickly. Visit your nearest emergency room if the clinic is closed. It’s hard not to panic in these situations, but try to stay as stress-free as possible for you and your baby’s overall health.
What’s usually done at the first prenatal visit?
Your first visit may include a full physical exam, including breast and pelvic exams, as well as some routine blood and urine tests. You will spend time talking to us about what to expect during your your first trimester and the rest of your pregnancy. You’ll learn about the types of prenatal visits and tests you’ll have until your baby is born. And there will be plenty of time to go through your list of questions.
We know you're excited to see your baby as soon as possible. In this first visit, you may be able to listen to your baby’s heartbeat – generally, it can be heard when you’re around 10 weeks pregnant.
Do I get an ultrasound at my first prenatal visit?
An ultrasound, where you can actually see your baby, is usually scheduled for later in your first trimester. But each clinic does it differently. So, feel free to ask about specific ultrasound timing and details when you schedule your initial visit.
Who will I see during my first prenatal visit?
You have many choices when it comes to who you should see for prenatal care. Depending on your health and preferences, you can pick an OB-GYN for your pregnancy, you can choose a certified nurse-midwife for pregnancy care, or you may be able to see your primary care doctor.
If your pregnancy is uncomplicated, some clinics may encourage you to see as many different people as possible throughout your pregnancy, including OB-GYNs, certified nurse-midwives and nurse practitioners. At many clinics, you also have the option to see the same person for every visit. Now’s the time to evaluate your individual needs so you can find someone you’re comfortable with and who you trust. After all, they’ll be spending a lot of time with you in the next several months.
Is this the same person who will deliver my baby?
This is an important question to ask during your first visit. In some clinics, the same person you see during your prenatal visits will also be the one delivering your baby. However most clinics share on-call duties with a group of OB-GYNs or certified nurse-midwives. That means “your” pregnancy doctor or midwife won’t necessarily be the person on-call to deliver your baby. Each situation has its own advantages. To help caregivers understand your birth wishes, concerns and preferences, you could also write a birth plan using a template.
What’s the rest of my prenatal appointment schedule going to look like?
Your pregnancy appointment timeline will be unique to you, but generally, women with uncomplicated pregnancies have visits roughly:
- Every four weeks until week 28
- Every two or three weeks from week 28 to 38
- Weekly from week 38 until birth
The first trimester tends to come with many questions and concerns, and it’s natural for more to come up as you continue through your pregnancy. Your top priority is keeping you and your baby healthy. This is why it’s so important to start regular prenatal care.