First prenatal visit coming up? Here’s what to expect

First prenatal visit coming up? Here’s what to expect

Attending your first prenatal visit can bring mixed emotions: excitement, worry and stress. What type of tests will you get? How about a screening? Will you receive an ultrasound?

According to the American Pregnancy Association, an expecting mom’s first prenatal visit is typically around eight weeks after her last menstruation, but this can vary based on past medical history or personal concerns.

There are three trimesters during a pregnancy: 0-3 months are the first trimester, 4-6 months are the second and 7-9 are the final. Your first prenatal appointment is critical to pave the pathway for the rest of pregnancy. Dr. Kathy Jones-Caillouet, an obstetrician and gynecologist at Advocate South Suburban Hospital in Hazel Crest, Ill., breaks the visits down.

The first prenatal visit is comprehensive, consisting of a variety of evaluations and conversations. You will have a full physical exam, share medical history and identify potential risk factors. New mothers will be educated on the importance of prenatal vitamins and receiving enough iron.

“This initial visit has a strong educational component tied to it, especially for first-time mothers. It’s a lot of explaining the dos and don’ts during pregnancy. We will assess any infection risks, genetic issues and draw bloodwork,” says Dr. Jones-Caillouet.

Your doctor will ask you to provide a urine sample, measure your belly, take measurements of the baby, look at the state of your kidneys, check your heart and discuss diabetes and nutrition.

Standard tests include:

  • Blood tests for anemia
  • Hepatitis tests
  • Immune status tests like rubella and chickenpox

Different screenings may be conducted:

  • Down Syndrome
  • Neurological
  • Genetic, such as cystic fibrosis, muscular atrophy, sickle cell disease or hemophilia

Dr. Jones-Caillouet explains mothers will receive an ultrasound during their first appointment. The ultrasound and examination are necessary components because they provide clues about your pregnancy, especially if you are unsure how far along you are.

Another part of this visit? Anticipating your predicted due date. “We determine your due date by calculating when the first day of your last menstrual period was. If you don’t know, we can figure out your delivery date through an ultrasound,” she says.

After the primary checkup, mothers generally have appointments every four weeks during the first trimester, and as your due date approaches, they occur more often. However, every pregnancy is different, and for mothers who are high risk, the intervals are shorter.

Dr. Jones-Caillouet reminds mothers to stay compliant with care and come when you should. She encourages women to touch base with their physician prior to conceiving, particularly if you have medical problems. And it doesn’t hurt to do some homework before your first prenatal visit; read pregnancy articles or come with a list of written questions.

“Prenatal visits allow me to build a relationship with my patients. I’m able to guide them through the ‘knowing and growing’ process. Motherhood is a blessing, and I always tell my patients to enjoy the journey. Having good mental and physical health are key to a successful and happy pregnancy,” Dr. Jones-Caillouet says.

Advocate South Suburban Hospital is excited to announce the opening of our newly renovated obstetrics unit at the end of the summer. The redesigned space includes new, private recovery suites and enhanced triage rooms. As always, your labor, delivery, recovery and comprehensive postpartum care all take place in comfortable surroundings designed for you and your family. Stay tuned for details on our grand opening!

To find an OB/GYN near you, click here.

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About the Author

Kelsey Andeway
Kelsey Andeway

Kelsey Andeway, health e-news contributor, is a public affairs intern at Advocate Health Care in Downers Grove. She is a senior at Loyola University Chicago earning a bachelor's degree in Communication Studies with a minor in Dance. In her free time, Kelsey enjoys dancing, baking, and taking long walks with her Chocolate Lab.