Regular appointments with your health care provider throughout your pregnancy are important to ensure the health of you and your baby. In addition to medical care, prenatal care includes education on pregnancy and childbirth, plus counseling and support.
Frequent visits with your health care provider allow you to follow the progress of your baby’s development. Visits also give you the opportunity to ask questions. Most health care providers welcome your partner at each visit, as well as interested family members.
The first visit is designed to determine your general health and give your health care provider clues to the risk factors that might affect your pregnancy. It will typically be longer than the future visits. The purpose of the initial visit is to:
You will be asked about previous pregnancies and surgeries, medical conditions, and exposure to any contagious diseases. Also, notify your health care provider about any medicines you have taken or are currently taking. We ask some very personal questions, but be assured that any information you give is strictly confidential.
A thorough physical exam is also part of the first visit. You are weighed, and your blood pressure, heart, lungs and breasts are checked. The first visit also includes a pelvic exam.
During the pelvic exam, a Pap smear is sometimes taken to screen for cervical cancer. Cultures are taken to detect sexually transmitted diseases (such as gonorrhea and Chlamydia). In addition a bimanual internal exam will be performed to determine the size of your uterus and pelvis.
Your health care provider might listen for the baby’s heartbeat with a special instrument called a Doppler, which uses ultrasound waves. A Doppler usually cannot detect a baby’s heartbeat before 10 to 12 weeks of pregnancy.
Many lab tests are ordered at your first visit including:
If your blood type is negative and your partner’s is positive, you will need to get an injection called Rhogam during your pregnancy.
Normally, your due date is 280 days (40 weeks or about 10 months) from the first day of your last period. However, if your periods are not regular or not 28 days in cycle, your due date might be different. Your health care provider will order an ultrasound to help determine your due date.
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