The time has come, a woman has just seen two lines on a pregnancy test, and she wonders, what now? The first step is to always make a prenatal appointment. An appointment with the doctor is important for a good start to any pregnancy, as are all the rest that follow.
Every appointment is going to be different in its own way. However, there are two appointments that will stand out, and that is a woman's very first appointment compared to her last. The first appointment is filled with excitement and nerves while the last one is quite the same, but for different reasons.
In the beginning, a woman is excited to learn all she can about the pregnancy, what she'll need to do, and when that first ultrasound will be. By the time the appointment last comes around, a soon-to-be-mom is tired, sore, and just can’t wait to hold that baby after nine months.
Whether mom-to-be has just found out she is pregnant or is somewhere in the middle of her pregnancy, she may want to know how the two appointments compare and what she has to look forward to. Because although most appointments will be the same, a woman's belly changes in between appointments.
20 First Things First: Are You Actually Pregnant?
This one seems like a given because there is no way that they are going to try and confirm the pregnancy at the last prenatal appointment. At your first prenatal appointment, they are likely going to confirm the pregnancy before getting started on anything. At-home-pregnancy-tests are very accurate when used properly, but there is some margin for error, so they need to know for sure.
Most doctors will send you for tests which are more accurate. Some may also have you do another urine test in the office to confirm. These kinds of tests can also be helpful in determining how far along you are based on the level of HCG in your system, though only an ultrasound is going to be pretty exact.
19 There Will Be No Talk Of Labour
Here is the good news about the first prenatal appointment, there will be no talk of childbirth. This can stay a vague thought in the back of your mind for just a little bit longer. The last prenatal appointment is going to center a lot about the upcoming birth and what mom’s plans are. This can be a little intimidating at first, especially to a woman who has not done it before.
The first prenatal visit will have no talks of epidurals and birth plans, there is a lot of time to talk about that later. The concern is more with making sure mom is taking her prenatal vitamins and getting a good walk in every now and then.
18 Genetic Testing Is An Option If Mom Wants It
This one also may differ depending on where you live, but in Canada, this is when they will bring up genetic testing. This is testing that is done near the end of the first trimester and it is a chance to see if mom is a carrier for any genetic illnesses that they need to be aware of.
This is often not mandatory, and parents have the choice if they want to undergo this. The negative aspect of this test is that it doesn’t say for sure if something is wrong, it just states if there is a high risk or not. Some women don’t want the added anxiety with knowing that something may be wrong, without knowing for sure.
17 Nothing Invasive Happens Here
You may get a check-up at the first appointment, but that is about it. Nothing invasive will happen at the first prenatal appointment, so you don’t need to worry about that at the first appointment. As you get further along in your pregnancy, you may start to have some more invasive testing and checks done.
At the last prenatal appointment, there is a good chance the doctor will check your cervix to see how far dilated you are. They also may do a membrane sweep if you are past your due date. These are all things no doctor would ever do at the first prenatal appointment.
16 A Large Checklist Will Be Sent Home
Remember how we said that it is going to feel like high school all over again with all the tests that you are going to have to do. Well, you will also be sent home with homework. Most doctors will send home a checklist with mom of things she has to do or things she has to stop doing.
A checklist will be sent home of what food to avoid, what exercises are okay to do, and any other important information regarding the pregnancy. The good news is, the homework is not as hard as in high school, and you will actually want to do it because it means the health of your little baby growing inside of you.
15 You (May) Find Out Your Due Date
The next two are ‘maybes’ because they may happen, or they may not. There is a chance that you will find out your due date at the first appointment. I say maybe because a due date is already just a guess and before you have an ultrasound, they are only going to go off the first day of your last menstrual cycle.
They use that date and estimate 40-weeks from that. The problem may be if a woman is not regular and does not know the date, or if she ovulated earlier or later than expected. This is why the date you are given is just an estimate until the first ultrasound is done.
14 It Will Be Long
The most notable difference between the first and last prenatal appointment is the length. By the time the last appointment comes up, they are relatively short. The OB or midwife will check the heartbeat, measure your stomach and if you have no concerns or questions, you will be on your way. The first is not like that at all.
The first prenatal visit is likely to be your longest one and that is because this is when there will be a lot of information given out. Mom-to-be will be told what she needs to do and what she can not do. It is the starting point of the pregnancy, and if you are a first-time mom then there is a lot to go over. So, bring some snacks.
13 You Better Come Prepared
Since this appointment is for information sharing, it is always a good idea to make sure that you come prepared. Before your appointment, you want to think hard and go over your medical history. If your first appointment is not with your primary doctor, but instead with an OB or midwife, you may want to call your doctor and get some information.
You want to take note of any serious medical illnesses you had, vaccine history, and if you have had any previous pregnancy concerns. These are all things that your doctor may want to know at the very beginning of your appointment. It is also a good idea to be prepared to discuss any mental health concerns you have had in the past as well.
12 They Will Want To Know What’s In Your Med Cabinet
Along with your medical history in terms of illnesses, you may also want to take a quick look in your med cabinet as well. Take note of all the meds you are currently taking, and also make a note of which ones you only take sometimes, like Tylenol and Advil. The doctor is going to want to know what meds you are on because not all are considered safe for pregnancy.
It is not normally a big deal, and if you are taking some that are not compatible with pregnancy the doc can help. They can either change the med to a pregnancy-safe one or advise you on alternative treatment if there is no other option.
11 Time To Call Your Great Aunt
If you have caught on to the trend, there is a lot of research that has to be done for the first visit, which is very different than the last. All the research will be done by the end of the pregnancy and then it is just a waiting game. Before you have that appointment, you may want to give your mom or grandmother a call.
That is because the doctor may want to know a bit about your family history. They may want to know if there is a family history of pregnancy complications, or they may just want to know if there is a history of multiples. Any information you can gather that you think may be important when it comes to your pregnancy.
10 You’ll Be Bringing A List
Pregnancy can be a lot to take in. When a woman finds out she is pregnant she is full of excitement, joy and a bit of nerves. All of these feelings can cause mom-to-be to forget important questions she wanted to ask. Since prenatal visits only happen once a month in the beginning, it is really important to make sure you don’t miss your chance.
Before your first appointment, take a moment to sit down and make a list of all the questions you have. This is the reason why the appointment is so long, so don’t be afraid to take your time and ask all the questions you have. This is your baby, and it is important to make sure you have all the information you need.
9 It’s Checkup Time
If you haven’t had a full check-up in a while, you are about to now. They will likely check your belly size and BP at every prenatal appointment, but at this one, you will get a full check up from head to toe. The doctor will check your size, BP, height, and any other items they deem necessary for pregnancy.
They may also check your other vitals, such as your heart and lungs. They may also do some pelvic and uterus exams, but these are all to use as a base for the rest of your pregnancy. They need to know what your body was doing right at the beginning to note any significant changes in the future as the pregnancy progresses.
8 A Lot Of Tests … It’s Highschool All Over Again
High school was not a fun time for anyone, with all the tests and everything, but you are about to feel like you are right back there with all the tests they are going to run. There are a lot of tests that will be ordered at your first prenatal visit that won’t really happen any other time. The first is going to be tests from your plasma. There are many things that your doctor is going to want to know through the liquids in your body.
There will be urine tests run, and there will also be forms for the genetic screening if you should so choose to complete it. If you have previously had gestational diabetes, or are high-risk for it, you may also have this test done early in your pregnancy.
7 You (May) Get An Ultrasound
The good news is, you may get an ultrasound at your first prenatal visit. Not all offices offer this, but some do, so it is going to depend on how your doctor’s office operates. If you do not get an ultrasound at your first appointment, then you will definitely be told when to book one. This is usually the highlight of a woman’s pregnancy, the ultrasound.
The glimpsing changes to see our baby is what we all look forward too. The first ultrasound is going to be used to date your pregnancy and see just how far along you are. It is also the first chance to see your baby’s heartbeat which can make a lot of women feel better. There will definitely not be any ultrasounds at the last appointment.
6 You Will Definitely Hear A Heart Beat At The Last Appointment
This one is something that you will definitely have at your last appointment, but not at your first. At the last appointment, you will definitely be able to hear your baby’s heartbeat. Near the end of the pregnancy, the OB will take a quick listen to the baby’s heart at every appointment. This will not happen at the first appointment.
A baby’s heart doesn’t start beating until about the 5th week of pregnancy, and even then, it is almost impossible to pick up on a doppler or ultrasound that early. So, as much as mom-to-be wants to hear that beautiful sound, she will have to wait a little longer to hear it.
5 Sensitive Conversations
There are only a few people in the world that we are comfortable sharing intimate details with, and our doctor should be one of them. There is a high likelihood that the conversation is going to get a bit personal and uncomfortable at your first visit. The doctor is going to ask you about the possibility of contracting any conditions from former relationships.
They are going to ask you how many partners you have, and don’t worry because everything that is said in that room is confidential. It is important to be completely honest with your doctor, and don’t worry about being judged. It is important to be honest because that is going to have an impact on the health and wellbeing of your baby.
4 No Talk Of Hospitals Yet
Just like the fact that you don’t have to worry about dealing with any related to childbirth at the first appointment, you also don’t have to think about hospitals just yet. As you get near the end of your pregnancy, you will have to start thinking about where you want to deliver and registering. This should be the furthest thing from your mind at the first prenatal visit.
Some women like to be prepared, and there is a chance that as soon as they saw the two pink lines that they already knew where they were going to deliver their baby. However, the doctor won’t need to know that information right at the beginning. That becomes a topic of discussion much later.
3 Don’t Worry About Those Kick Counts Yet
Besides hearing the baby’s heartbeat, the next best part of pregnancy is feeling the baby kick. This will normally happen closer to the middle of your pregnancy. This is not something that will even be mentioned at the first prenatal visit because you are so far away from experiencing it.
It is, however, a discussion that may take place at the last prenatal visit. The doctor may want to know how often you are feeling the baby move, and they will definitely want to know if you have felt a decrease in movement. This is important for them to know because it lets them know how your baby is doing.
2 It’s Different Because You’re Comfortable
One of the biggest reasons the two appointments are different is simply because of how you feel. At the first appointment, you may even be too early to have had morning sickness hit, so you are comfortable and happy. You walk into the appointment all smiles, and nothing is hurting or aching.
At the last visit, it is a whole different story. You can barely walk into the office on your own and every move you make makes it feel like the baby is just going to fall out. You will think back to those early days when you could see your feet, but you will be so glad to meet your baby soon that it makes it all seem worth it.
1 What Is Recovery Like?
There is a good chance that at your last prenatal visit, the doctor is getting you ready for birth. They are walking you through what will happen and answering any questions that you may have. They want to make sure you are as comfortable as possible. They may also mention some information on the recovery process to you.
Sometimes, the recovery is a bit more difficult than the actual childbirth because now you have to recover as well as take care of this new little baby. Luckily, this should be the furthest thing from your mind at your very first appointment. You should just be excited and ready to start the wildest adventure you will ever have.
References: whattoexpect.com, webmd.com, americanpregnancy.org