Prenatal Visits: First Trimester

December 19, 2010

Congratulations on your pregnancy! Now that you've taken a home pregnancy test to determine that you're expecting, you may wonder what happens now as far as prenatal visits are concerned. Here's a look at what to expect for the first Trimester.

When to Schedule an Appointment In the First Trimester

You should schedule an appointment with your family doctor, midwife or obstetrician as soon as you've used a home test to confirm your pregnancy. Let the nurse or receptionist know how far along you think you are. Most practitioners won't schedule the appointment before you're eight weeks pregnant unless there are complications. Complications include past problem pregnancies, severe vomiting or nausea, abdominal pain or vaginal bleeding.

The Prenatal Visit

The first prenatal visit isn't typically very long, but there are a few key points every health practitioner goes over. Your practitioner will ask you about the regularity of your periods and when you had your last one. This is used to determine when you may be due. A gynecological history will be taken including any history of STDs, previous pregnancy details as well as any problems or symptoms you've noticed since your last period that you haven't had before. These problems and symptoms don't need to be pregnancy related.

You and your practitioner will discuss any drug allergies, past hospitalizations or surgeries, chronic conditions and/or medications you're currently taking as well as any psychiatric problems. Your habits will be evaluated on how they impact your pregnancy including drinking, recreational drug use or smoking. Any problems that affect your emotional well-being or safety, like being a victim of abuse, will be discussed.

Your practitioner may also do a verbal birth defect and genetic history. This includes asking if anyone in your family has developmental delays, has a chromosomal disorder or a structural birth defect. The chance of your exposure to potential toxins at work or where you live will be discussed.

Prenatal Genetic Testing Options

You will be offered a variety of screening tests to check for birth defects or chromosomal problems. You can find out if your baby is at a higher risk of developing Down syndrome. The option for a blood test between nine and 13 weeks will be offered as well as an early ultrasound in many cases. You will be explained the option of carrier screening to determine if your child is at risk for genetic disorders like sickle cell disease, Tay-Sachs disease and cystic fibrosis. You will also be explained any potential risks of these tests.

Your practitioner may also give you a complete physical including a pelvic exam with a Pap smear to test for unusual cells that could indicate cervical cancer. If you've recently had a Pap smear, you won't need one again. A urine sample will also be taken to confirm pregnancy and test for urinary tract infections.

 

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