First Prenatal Visit

image001Prenatal care is a term used to refer to the medical care that is provided to a pregnant woman. Prenatal care is part and parcel of healthy pregnancy. It not only means medical care, but it also includes the educative information given on childbirth and pregnancy along with the counseling and moral support which benefits both the mother and the new born. The moment your pregnancy is confirmed, you need to plan your first prenatal visit. A lot of questions need to be answered to ascertain your due date. Your general health conditions with regard to your blood pressure, height, weight will be recorded. You can also share your concerns with your doctor. Read on to learn when to have your first prenatal visit and what happens in the process.

When Should I Go to My First Prenatal Visit?

Even though you could schedule a prenatal visit once you find out you are pregnant, most physicians schedule your first prenatal visit when you are pregnant for 8 weeks. If you suffer from any medical condition, nausea accompanied by vomiting, vaginal bleeding and pain in the abdomen, schedule the appointment as soon as possible. If you have had problems with your previous pregnancies, the obstetrician or the family physician may plan your first prenatal visit earlier, Feel comfortable to clarify any of your doubts regarding the pregnancy.

What Happens at My First Prenatal Visit?

1. Discussion on Due Date and Medical History

Your due date is determined during your first visit to your medical practitioner. Not only your medical history is studied, but the medical histories of your family members are also noted. On the basis of your age, your health condition and your family history, the pregnancy risk factor, if any, is determined. The details of your earlier surgeries or pregnancies will be checked. You may also give information of any medications that you had taken earlier or you may be presently taking.

2. Ask the Doctor Questions 

Don’t hesitate to ask any questions. You may ask about your due date, and know more about your symptoms. Any concern regarding the food that you should avoid can be clearly shared with your doctor. The medical practitioner may also include a cervical test, breast test, your Last Menstrual Period (LMP), details of abortions or miscarriages if any, details of medical allergies if any etc.

3. Advice on Lifestyle Issues

Exercises which you can do during your pregnancy, whether sex is allowed during this period, the nutrition that is required, your work atmosphere, and any other issues that is related to your lifestyle is discussed with your practitioner. You can even take the help of the medical practitioner to quit smoking by asking his or her suggestions.

4. Tests in First Prenatal Visit 

Tests

Description

Pelvic Exam

A pap smear is undertaken to rule out cervical cancer and tests are also undertaken to check for the existence of diseases which are transmitted sexually. The size of the pelvis and uterus is also checked to rule out any abnormal conditions of the ovaries, uterus or the fallopian tubes.

(CBC)Complete Blood Count

These tests determine if a pregnant woman is suffering from anemia (because of low levels of iron). If there is a deficiency of iron, the doctor will recommend consuming food which is rich in iron or iron supplements. CBC also counts your white blood cells and your platelets. A steep increase in the white blood cells shows that there is infection. This is also referred to as FBC meaning Full Blood Count.

HIV Test

Nowadays, all pregnant women are recommended to undergo this test. The reason for this is that a mother will have sufficient time to decide on important matters concerning this issue if she has HIV. Protection of her health can be made effective with this test and the transmission of the HIV from the mother to the child also can be prevented.

Rubella

This is popularly known as three day measles or German measles, which is caused by rubella virus. Though the disease is mild in nature, it could prove to be very serious during pregnancy. If a pregnant woman catches this disease in the first 5 months of her pregnancy, the child may have a syndrome called congenital rubella syndrome which may result in a list of diseases that are incurable. This ensures the unborn child’s safety.

RPR

This test is used to diagnose syphilis which is a disease that is transmitted sexually. If this is not treated, the child will develop congenital syphilis which again leads to grave consequences like bone deformity, teeth deformity, damage of the brain or damage of the nerves. The baby also may be stillborn.

HBsAg

It is a routine for a pregnant woman to undergo this test, which is a test for Hepatitis B Antigen. Hepatitis B is screened for by this test which is transmitted through blood, contaminated needles, saliva, vaginal fluid or semen. One could be unaware of the existence of this disease in them. The newborn can acquire this disease through its infected mother.

Varicella

This is also known as chicken pox. It leads to complications in the child as well as the mother. Chicken pox may lead to pneumonia which is lung inflammation. It may also lead to inflammation of liver or the brain. Depending on the number of weeks pregnant, the complications vary in the unborn baby.

Urinalysis

A pregnant lady’s urine is tested for the occurrence of bladder infections, increased levels of sugar or kidney diseases. Although these conditions are common during pregnancy, if they are untreated, they can develop into kidney infections which may result in problems for the unborn baby. These infections are also easily cured. So detection of these diseases is very crucial.

Type and Screen Blood Test

This test identifies the Rh factor and your blood type. All of us are either Rh positive or Rh negative. If the mother’s is Rh negative and the father’s is Rh positive, then the baby’s type of blood may not match with the mother, which may result in problems during delivery. This condition is taken care of by giving an injection during the delivery and also at the 28th week of your pregnancy. Basically, if your blood type is Rh- and your partner’s blood type is Rh+, an Rh immune globulin is injected to prevent the growth of antibodies that may prove harmful to your baby.

Genetic Tests

The physician might also test you for Thalassemia, Tay-Sachs and sickle cell anemia. All the diseases mentioned can be passed to the baby because of defects in genes carried by the parents. You can also be tested for cystic fibrosis as it can affect your baby’s digestion and breathing if the parents are carriers.

Watch a video to learn what to expect on your first prenatal visit so you can be better prepared for it:

Notes to the Mother-to-Be

Your first prenatal visit can make you very excited and at the same time anxious. Anticipating the results of all the prenatal tests that you have to undergo may make you feel much stressed out and nervous. Begin to understand that all of these tests are conducted as a routine on all pregnant women. And it is just a process, which ensures safety for you and your baby. If you have any kind of apprehensions regarding your first prenatal tests, feel free to openly discuss them with your medical practitioner. The above information builds in the confidence in you that all these tests are routine tests and there is absolutely no need of getting nervous.

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