The time between your first positive pregnancy test and your first prenatal visit is an awkward limbo filled with excitement, worry, and a bunch of questions. There can be hesitation in sharing the news because it feels like if a doctor didn’t confirm it, are you really pregnant?
At home tests are pretty accurate, but there is a chance that it’s faulty. Although I took 3 of them, it wasn’t hard to convince myself that I hit the defective trifecta. I was anxious not knowing with 100% certainty whethe or not I was pregnant. The feeling that if the possibility existed, that meant I should probably do something, right? Where should I start? What foods do I need to avoid? Are over-the-counter medications okay?
These, along with many other questions, quickly took up residence in my mind, during the 4 week wait to my first prenatal appointment. Seriously though, why do you have to wait until you’re 8 weeks pregnant to be seen by a doctor if most people generally get a BFP much sooner than that? (Another question to jot down for the doc!). I channeled my worries into a long list of questions for my OB and waited not-so-patiently for my appointment!
Questions to Ask your OB/GYN at your first prenatal appointment:
1. Basic Questions About Pregnancy
- How much weight should I gain?
- When is it safe to announce that I’m pregnant?
- When will we be able to find out the gender?
2. Questions About Medications
- Should I continue to take the medications I’m currently taking?
- Are there any medications I need to stop immediately?
- What over the counter medications okay to take?
- Make a list of all the medications that you take regularly and bring it with you to your first prenatal appointment (include supplements, vitamins and herbs).
- Asking about over the counter medications that you might not take regularly, like headache or cold medicine, is also a good idea while you’re at it! I used to take Advil for headaches but, during my pregnancy, my doctor told me to take Tylenol instead.
2. Questions About Appointments and Doctor Office Policies
- How often do I need to come in for visits?
- What tests do I need to be aware of and what’s the timeline for these tests?
The number and frequency of OB appointments may differ across practices so it’s a good idea to ask your doctor how often she/he expects to see you. This is also useful to know ahead of time in case you need to take time off work to attend your appointments.
- Get a list of which tests you will be asked to take and a schedule of when they need to be completed- some can only be done during a certain trimester/window (for example, the first trimester test is generally done between 11-14 weeks).
- Make a note of all the places you’re expected to be and when you need to be there. I had my genetic testing done at a location different than my OB office and didn’t realize until the day of! Take it from me- write all the things down and use your calendar!
On a side note- don’t be afraid to ask “Why?” and “Is this necessary?” when it comes to any tests that your doctor is asking or recommending you take. Being well informed will keep your anxieties at bay and make you feel like you have control over some aspects of your pregnancy.
3. Symptoms + Emergencies
- What symptoms are normal and what are a cause for concern?
- What do I do in an emergency situation?
- Who do I contact for non-emergency questions/concerns?
- What do you consider an emergency situation?
“Is this much vomiting normal for the first trimester?” A friend had asked me after her second week of vomiting 2-3 times a day. I told her to give her doctor a call. She did and it turns out she had a severe form of morning sickness called Hyperemesis Gravidarum and was prescribed medication for it. It’s not something I ever experienced myself, but I know it was scary for her as a first-time mom-to-be.
Ask your doctor about what’s “normal” for each trimester and what symptoms constitute an emergency or require a visit. Then ask for contact information in case you experience something like that and need to seek medical attention (and peace of mind!).
With so many questions and things to remember, it’s perfectly fine to be overly cautious. A week after your first prenatal appointment you may remember that hair color appointment you made months ago and wonder if it’s safe to keep. Leave your first appointment with a contact number for non-emergency questions and concerns. Just someone you can call up to ease an anxious moment!
4. Questions About Changes to Diet
- What changes do I need to make to my diet to ensure a healthy pregnancy/baby?
- How should my weight gain progress based on my current weight?
- Are there any prenatal vitamins you recommend taking? Do you have any samples?
If you describe your eating habits as “not horrible,” (like I did) chances are you may need to make some changes. But, don’t worry, you’ll have guidance!
One of the most important parts of your first prenatal appointment is so your doctor can obtain a baseline of the current state of your health. Your doctor will be monitoring your weight throughout your pregnancy but it may be a good idea to ask about what a healthy weight gain progression would look like for your BMI so you can keep track of things between appointments.
Besides weight gain, you should be aware of what nutrients you need to increase intake of to meet baby’s needs. Iron was a big one for me and I was asked to take iron supplements. It’s way better to get it through a (well cooked) steak than a concentrated pill which can have side effects.
Besides eating healthier and incorporating more of the nutrients that are important for baby’s growth, there are some things your doctor might tell you to avoid completely (i.e. raw meats). I feel like my sushi cravings increased dramatically when I was pregnant because my body knew I couldn’t have it!
Finally, don’t forget to ask your doctor to recommend a good prenatal vitamin that has the ideal balance of vitamins for you (then, check to see if it’s covered by your insurance- and also try to snag some samples while you’re in the office!).
- Is there anything that is not safe to put on my body? (i.e. cosmetics)
I never thought I wouldn’t be able to use some of the items in my make-up bag during pregnancy. However, there are some chemicals that can have adverse effects on your unborn child. Be sure to check-in with your doctor and get a list of which ones to avoid- and then treat yourself to some new, pregnancy friendly, make-up! You deserve it!
6. Questions About Changes to Exercise and Physical activity
- What lifestyle/exercise changes do I need to make?
- Can I continue with my daily regimen?
Whether you recently completed a triathlon or have a relatively sedentary lifestyle, it’s important to discuss what changes, if any, need to be made to your level of physical activity. Your doctor has knowledge of your medical history and will be able to make recommendations to guide you towards activities that are safe and helpful for both you and baby!
After talking to my doctor, I signed up for a pre-natal yoga class and I still recommend it to all my pregnant friends. Not only was it a great way to clear my mind, but we also practiced a variety of pelvic exercises that helped get my muscles ready for birth.
If your doctor thinks you need to be more physically active during your pregnancy, be sure to ask which activities are best. Prenatal swimming and yoga were my two favorite forms of exercise during pregnancy!
7. Questions About Medical History
- How does my medical history or my family’s medical history affect this pregnancy?
Your OB should have a copy of your medical history ready to discuss with you at your appointment (or, they might ask you to fill out one there). Be sure to voice any concerns you may have. Your doctor knows what things could potentially impact your pregnancy and should point them out.
- Ask your doctor to review everything with you and discuss your options. Whether it’s the need for additional testing or medications, they will be able to help you find answers to your questions. Your family’s medical history can also play a big role in determining your child’s risk for certain diseases and overall health.
- Try to get some information from parents and grandparents prior to your appointment so you can discuss them with your doctor.
- Here is a great resource in case you’re unsure of what types of things to look for: https://www.cdc.gov/genomics/famhistory/famhist_during_pregnancy.htm .
From the moment you find out you are pregnant, your mind can quickly become a breeding ground for questions. Take it one step at a time! For your first appointment, come prepared with the questions that are most important to you and those that will put your mind at ease.
If you’re unsure of what to ask, the above questions are a great way to start a dialogue with your prenatal care provider. This will help you to know how to proceed with a healthy and safe pregnancy.
Don’t be afraid to call your OB with any sort of uncertainty before it manifests into a stressor. You’ll probably be able to get the answers to most of the questions you have during your first prenatal visit. I can guarantee that it won’t be long before your overly anxious mind generates a whole new list of questions (put that non-emergency contact on speed dial!).
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