Going to the doctor has never been more fun—or more stressful—than when a woman finds out that she is having a baby. While some women dread doctor's appointments, moms-to-be love that they get a chance to hear their baby's heartbeat and get an update on their health. But there are definite downsides, too, and they start with the very first appointment.
When a woman is newly pregnant, she needs to learn a lot about how to be healthy for the next nine months. The doctor needs a lot of information about the mom's health and her family history to make recommendations on the best care. That first appointment will be filled with info, but there will be some things that the doctor keeps on the down low. Part of that is because of the overwhelming nature of that long, detailed appointment, but sometimes they just don't want to mention some of the aspects of prenatal care that are more debatable.
Newly pregnant moms have a lot on their minds, and that first appointment can be intimidating, so we have a guide. Here are 10 things the gyno will tell mom at the first visit (and 10 things they keep on the DL).
Let's start with the 10 things the gyno will tell mom the first visit...
20 Estimated Due Date
While a lot of the moments in the first doctor's appointment are clinical, there are a few very memorable, exciting things that happen. That includes when the doctor sits down and calculates the estimated due date. There are a number of online tools that moms-to-be use before they get to the appointment, but hearing it from the doctor is magical.
For moms who have a first-trimester ultrasound, it's even easier to estimate the due date, so it might be slightly different than what a woman expects. It immediately brings the pregnancy into the reality that a baby will arrive soon.
19 Food Safety Instructions
Women who are pregnant have to watch what they eat because of a variety of problems that could come from undercooked food or other issues. The list is really long, and a good portion of the first doctor's appointment will involve sitting with a nurse to go over the dos and don'ts.
Moms have to learn that while raw sushi is dangerous, it's a really good idea to eat fish — if it isn't too high in mercury, that is. Many doctors have a packet full of information and nutritional facts to distribute since the rules are so complicated but so vital to the baby's health.
18 Most Meds Are Unsafe
In addition to the list of foods that pregnant women shouldn't eat, at the first prenatal appointment, nurses will give a mom-to-be a list of meds she can't take. It's pretty exhaustive, and it gets longer all the time, as new research has shown that even over-the-counter headache meds have been linked to ADHD in children.
These days, a greater number of women are on meds during pregnancy. So the conversation at the first appointment can be pretty long. Sometimes it's safer to continue the meds than to get off of them, but each case needs to be considered individually, and that requires a discussion with the doctor.
17 Start Prenatal Vitamins Right Away
One of the first messages that a doctor or nurse will try to impart on new moms-to-be is that they need to be taking prenatal vitamins. In fact, many receptionists have been tasked with telling women to start using them right away when moms call in to make the first appointment.
Some women might question the need for vitamins if they have a healthy lifestyle, but there are vitamins and minerals that can be missed even in the most nutritious of meals. Those nutrients are essential for the development of the baby. The vitamins should be taken daily for all nine months of pregnancy.
16 First Heartbeat
The highlight of the first prenatal appointment comes when the mom gets her first ultrasound. There isn't much to see on the screen yet — the baby looks a bit like a bean in a sac. But the important part is the sound, as the exam usually includes the first chance to hear the baby's heartbeat.
It's hard to know much about the baby's health at this point in the first trimester, but the heartbeat is the first big confirmation of life. It's magical for moms and their partners, and it is the best part of a long, stressful initial prenatal appointment.
15 Medical History Matters
Every time a person sees a new doctor, they need to go through their medical history. But that's even more important during the first OBGYN appointment for a mom-to-be. The mom's health issues are only part of the equation — moms need to come prepared with any past history for the dad and any genetic issues in extended family members a couple of generations back.
This part of the appointment is an opportunity for the doctor to figure out any possible issues that the baby could have. Moms might want to do some homework ahead of time and come prepared with a detailed family history and any questions they have.
14 Morning Sickness Tips
Most of the time, the first prenatal appointment comes right about the time that mom is starting to feel really pregnant. She may not be showing, but her body is going through the symptoms, including the beginnings of morning sickness.
The doctor and nurse will definitely spend a few minutes asking how the mom feels and give her some tips about keeping some food in her stomach to avoid nausea or trying some natural remedies. Morning sickness isn't always fun, but the doctor will assure a mom that it is a sign that the baby is growing and developing and will get better soon.
13 Baby Testing Options
It might seem early, but moms have to make some decisions about their prenatal care as soon as that first OBGYN appointment. The doctor will go over some options about testing for the baby, and some of them have to come in the first trimester — maybe within days or weeks of the first appointment.
A nuchal translucency screening, which can determine if the baby is at elevated risk for Down syndrome and other genetic problems, have to be done between nine and 14 weeks. Chorionic villus screening, which also detects genetic disorders has to be done between 10 and 13 weeks, while amniocentesis can wait until the second trimester.
12 Talking About The Scales
All women know that having a baby means that your body is going to change significantly. But doctors will take time to give some details about that at the first prenatal appointment so women can understand how to grow their bump in a healthy way.
The doctor's recommendation will be based on where the woman starts off in her pregnancy. In general, eating for two is sort of a myth; moms just need to eat when hungry and to eat nutritious foods. Doctors have recommendations on increasing calories in a healthy way that can be discussed at that first appointment.
11 Money Matters
There comes a point during the first-trimester appointment when things move from the medical issues and turn toward the money ones. It might seem harsh, but doctors need to be paid, so it's understandable that the prenatal costs come up at the beginning of the process.
The cost of prenatal care depends on a woman's insurance coverage, and while the discussion starts at the doctor's office, moms need to remember that there are costs at the hospital and if she decides to hire a doula. Some doctors allow families to start making payments early to cover everything. There can be sticker shock, but it's only a portion of the costs of having a baby.
And here are the 10 things a gyno will keep on the DL...
10 It May Be Too Late To Avoid Issues
When the doctor is having the prenatal vitamin talk with a mom at her first appointment, the truth is that she may have already missed a critical stage in the baby's development. The first two months of pregnancy are a time of major development, and so they need to start taking vitamins right away — preferably even before getting pregnant.
Folic acid has been linked to helping babies avoid neural tube defects, which happen as early as the six-week mark and can be fatal. Recent research also pointed out that prenatal vitamins in the first month can diminish the risk of autism. So, moms should start long before that first appointment.
9 Tests Aren't Always Accurate
The talk about genetic screening and prenatal testing can be pretty daunting for a mom-to-be, but doctors typically talk about them in terms of providing some peace of mind and giving families time to plan for any obstacles. But the doctor keeps on the down low the fact that those tests don't always tell the entire story.
The nuchal translucency screening and even the amniocentesis reveal a likelihood the baby could have a genetic condition, but it isn't entirely accurate. Even the gender of the baby is sometimes reported inaccurately in those tests and moms and dads only learn the truth after the birth.
8 Good Prenatal Care Is Priceless
We understand how overwhelming the first doctor's appointment can be. It includes a lot of questions, packets of information, a few medical procedures, and the first of many payments — and that can add stress onto stress at a time when a woman just wants to enjoy her pregnancy.
Moms might not realize just how invaluable prenatal care can be. While some women have uncomplicated pregnancies, they can get valuable information on nutrition and how to take care of themselves and the baby. These appointments can pick up on a lot of problems that could end in tragedy without treatment. The cost might be high, but good prenatal care is priceless.
7 Some Research Says A Glass Is Okay
One item on the list of things to avoid during pregnancy may not be as bad as the doctor says. According to more recent research, it might be okay to have the occasional glass of pinot. There is conclusive evidence that heavy drinking can cause birth defects and developmental problems, so doctors try to keep this theory on the down low.
While some people say there might be benefits one glass a week, others, including doctors, say it isn't worth the risk. It's a debate that is dividing pregnant women, but all doctors tend to agree that it's better just to stick to water.
6 Some Women Go Way Overboard
While nutrition is a really important topic during pregnancy, many doctors don't want to dwell on the issue of a woman's changing physique, especially so early on. So they can gloss over some of the details, especially when it comes to the examples that women see in pop culture these days.
We love to follow celeb moms-to-be. Jessica Simpson, for example, seems to be having some major pregnancy pains in her third pregnancy. At this point, it's not even about bouncing back after baby, it's about the wellbeing of mama and baby. Regardless of what's in pop culture, listen to your doctor (and your body).
5 Be Careful To Avoid Infections During Pregnancy
While moms go into a lot of details on their medical history at the first prenatal appointment, some doctors don't mention that the women need to be careful that things don't change over the next nine months.
In recent years, the US has experienced a rise in the rates of blindness in newborns because of an infection that the mom caught down below during pregnancy. Doctors shouldn't keep it on the down low since the implications can be pretty huge. It's important to continue to be vigilant with protection for women who aren't in monogamous relationships, even during pregnancy.
4 It Could Be A Long Nine Months
While morning sickness might be the downside of pregnancy, most women only have to suffer for a month or two. They typically dissipate after the 12th week, a fact that many doctors will mention to assuage moms-to-be. But there is a truth that they keep on the down low — some women suffer extreme symptoms that last throughout the pregnancy.
We understand when some moms don't think they should complain about a little nausea, but if they find themselves unable to keep any food down, it's time to speak up. Some women end up in the hospital hyperemesis gravidarum, a condition that can cause dehydration, and that can be dangerous for the mom and the baby.
3 Don't Count Down The Days
While the due date is discussed a lot during the first doctor's appointment, moms will learn later on that they shouldn't have run home and circled that date on the calendar. It's really rare for women to actually give birth on that day.
According to Parents, about 80 percent of women deliver the baby between 37 weeks and 42 weeks, while about 11 percent deliver prematurely, and the remainder is more than two weeks past the due date.
Research has shown that a first-time birth happens around the gestation that the mother was born, and boys are more likely to be late than girls. Each birth is different, but very few happen on the due date.
2 Be Careful With Home Remedies
For many Millennials, the idea of trying natural health remedies is really popular. But while the doctor will spend a long time warning women about decongestants and other meds, they don't spend enough time discussing more natural trends that could be problematic during pregnancy.
For example, some essential oils and homeopathic practices can trigger contractions too early. And neti pots have been blamed for making infections worse. Sometimes it's best to just suffer through some annoying symptoms than try an unusual herbal tea. Women who consider using something that seems natural should be careful while pregnant because even home remedies can be dangerous to the baby.
1 Accidents Can Still Happen
Even after a woman goes through her first prenatal appointment, there's a chance that she may not be pregnant much longer. It's a fact that many doctors keep on the down low because they don't want to stress the woman out too much, but between 10 and 20 percent of pregnancies end in an accidental loss.
The majority of these mishaps happen in the first trimester, and the chances go down dramatically once the doctor has detected the baby's heartbeat. But there is still a chance, especially for older moms and those with a history of these kinds of things. Tragedy can still happen, although the risk is down considerably.