A new pregnancy often comes with a torrent of emotions and you may be feeling excited, nervous, overwhelmed, or thrilled, often all in the same day! Don't worry—between the vast hormonal changes pregnancy brings and the incredible life change of adding a new member to your family, all of these feelings are normal and expected. One of the first tasks on your to-do list after receiving a positive pregnancy test is to make an appointment with your obstetrician. These doctors specialize in pregnancy, childbirth, and postpartum care and will be able to answer all of your initial questions. Here are some ways you can prepare for that first prenatal visit.
Know Your History
Some obstetricians will send you some new patient paperwork to fill out prior to your appointment, or you may receive it when you check in. Part of your prenatal care will be determined by your prior medical history, even if you've never been pregnant before. It's very important to let your doctor know about any medications you're currently taking, operations you may have had in the past, and ongoing medical conditions. You should also know the first date of your last period, as this will help the doctor determine your baby's due date.
Your prenatal paperwork will probably also include questions about your partner's medical history as well. This is because many medical conditions are genetic and may be passed down to your child. For the same reason, you should also be aware of your own and your partner's families' medical history. Conditions such as diabetes, high or low blood pressure, heart conditions, cancer, and even mental illness should be noted on your chart. This will help your obstetrician determine the tests that should be run during your prenatal care and any conditions to watch for once the baby is born.
Be Ready to Provide Samples
Although you've probably already received a positive pregnancy test, one of the reasons for the first prenatal appointment with an obstetrician is to confirm your pregnancy. This will probably be done via a blood sample, but you should be prepared to provide a urine sample at the office as well. Blood tests will determine your hemoglobin levels, hematocrit levels, Rh factor and blood type. They will also screen for diseases such as rubella, varicella, chicken pox, HIV, Tay Sachs, sickle cell anemia, cystic fibrosis, and hepatitis.
If you're squeamish about giving a blood sample, remember that this will probably only need to be done at the first visit. Some tests, like Rh factor, may need to be repeated at the next appointment just for confirmation, but most of them only need to be checked once.
When you first realize you're pregnant, your mind may be filled with questions for your obstetrician. Start writing them down now, so you can bring the list to your appointment for answers. The first prenatal appointment will be filled with new information about how to take care of yourself and your growing baby during pregnancy, so it can be easy to forget the specific questions you had before you got to the office.
Some questions to ask the obstetrician might include foods or drinks to avoid, what to look for in prenatal vitamins, and what symptoms should you expect versus those that warrant a phonecall to the doctor. You may be surprised which daily habits need to be changed now, especially in nutrition, exercise, and even household chores. It's also a good idea to go over the schedule of your prenatal care, how often your appointments will be, and what to expect at each of them.