Your first prenatal care checkup
Congratulations on your pregnancy! Now that you know you’re expecting, it’s important to take very good care of yourself and your baby. The first thing you can do is make an appointment with your health care provider for your first prenatal care checkup.
Your first prenatal checkup is usually the longest because your provider asks you lots of questions and does several tests.
How do you get ready for your first prenatal checkup?
You might not be sure about what to expect at your first prenatal care checkup. It helps to plan ahead.
At your first prenatal checkup, your provider talks to you about your health. She may have you answer questions, like about your health history, using a paper form or computer while you’re in the waiting room. This helps your provider plan the best care for you and your baby.
Be prepared to tell your provider about:
- Date of your last menstrual period (This helps your provider to find out your due date.)
- Health problems, like diabetes, high blood pressure or sexually transmitted infections STIs
- Past pregnancies (for example, if you had a preterm birth or miscarriage before)
- Past hospital stays
- Medicines you’re taking or if you’re allergic to any medicines
- Lifestyle, such as if you drink alcohol, smoke or use street drugs like marijuana or ecstasy
- Exercise or other activities you do
- Stress you feel
- Safety of your environment
- Your family health history (Talk to your family members related to you by blood to learn about any diseases or illnesses that run in your family.)
- Your partner’s family health history
Also, keep learning about your family health history. If you learn something new, or have a question for your health provider, write it down. You can talk to your health provider at your next visit. These steps will help you to have a healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby.
What else happens at the first prenatal care checkup?
At your first prenatal care checkup, your provider does some tests to check your health and your baby’s health. Your health care provider:
- Checks your weight
- Takes your blood pressure
- Does a physical exam and a pelvic (internal) exam
- Checks your urine sample for infection
- Does some blood tests to check for anemia and to see if you have certain infections. You get a blood test for HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, unless you say no.
- Does a Pap smear to check for cervical cancer and other tests for vaginal infections.
- Gives you a prenatal vitamin with 600 micrograms of folic acid
Go to all your prenatal checkups, even if you’re feeling fine!
Who else knows about your health information?
It can be hard sharing such personal information, like if you had a sexually transmitted infection or if you use drugs. Know that the answers you give help your provider give you and your baby the best care.
All of the health information you share is private and safe. It doesn’t matter if the information comes from your prenatal tests, is written down in a paper form, gets added into a computer or is shared during a talk you have with your provider. Only your health care team knows your health information.
So, don’t be afraid to give honest answers or share your concerns with your provider. She can’t tell anyone else what you say without your permission.
This web article is supported by grant U33MC12786 from the Health Resources and Services Administration, Maternal and Child Health Bureau, Genetic Services Branch, as part of the Family Health History for Prenatal Providers project. Partners in the Family Health History for Prenatal Providers project include HRSA, March of Dimes Foundation, National Coalition for Health Professional Education in Genetics, Genetic Alliance and Harvard Partners.
See also: Family health history
Last reviewed: May, 2011