If you’re reading this, you’ve probably just found out you’re pregnant – congratulations! It’s time then to schedule your first prenatal visit to a gynaecologist. Prenatal care ensures that you and your baby are doing fine at every stage.
But it’s not just medical care you’ll get during these visits. Your gynaecologist will also be able to educate you and your partner on the birthing process and provide valuable information, guidance, and support.
However, like your first pregnancy, your first prenatal visit is a brand new experience. And to guide you on what you should expect at this consultation, we’ve gathered some useful information.
When Should You Go for the First Prenatal Visit
The first prenatal visit will probably be the longest consultation among all your visits to the gynaecologist throughout your pregnancy
Singapore-based obstetrician and gynaecologist Dr Anne Tan says that if you have a regular menstrual cycle and have missed your next expected period, you should use a home pregnancy test to check if you are indeed pregnant.
If you get a positive result and do not experience any pains or bleeding, you can make an appointment for your first prenatal visit two weeks after your missed period.
According to WebMD, the purpose of your first prenatal visit is to:
- Determine your due date
- Learn about your health history
- Explore the medical history of family members
- Determine if you have any pregnancy risk factors based on your age, health, and/or personal and family history.
What to Expect During First Prenatal Visit
1. Blood Tests
According to Dr Dana Elliot Srither, a Singapore-based family physician, one of the first blood tests your gynaecologist will conduct involves checking the amount of the pregnancy hormone, Human Choroid Gonadotrophin (HCg), in your blood.
While this will confirm how far along you are in your pregnancy, your doctor will also ensure the amount doubles every two to three days. This indicates that your pregnancy is going along normally.
Your gynaecologist will also carry out the following tests on your blood, says Dr Srither:
- Full blood cell count (FBC).
- Blood typing and screening for Rh antibodies.
- Presence of syphilis, hepatitis, gonorrhoea, chlamydia, and other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), including human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).
- Previous exposure to some viral diseases, especially German measles (rubella).
- Others include checking for thyroid disease, depending on your medical history.
2. Pelvic exam
Dr Srither explains that a pelvic exam is done at your first prenatal appointment to see how you are progressing in the pregnancy. Medical experts at WebMD explain that during this exam, you’ll have a Pap smear done to screen for cervical cancer and to detect other STDs.
Your doctor may also conduct an internal exam with two fingers inside your vagina and one hand on your stomach. This is done to check for uterus abnormalities, ovaries, or fallopian tubes. During this examination, the doctor will also determine the size of your uterus and pelvis.
You should hear your baby’s heartbeat for the first time during the ultrasound. | Image courtesy: iStock
3. Vaginal Ultrasound
The vaginal ultrasound, according to Dr Tan, should detect an intrauterine gestational sac with a yolk sac, and your baby (known at this stage as the “fetal pole”) should be seen measuring just under 5 mm. By 7 weeks, the foetal pole would be around 10 mm, and your baby’s heartbeat will be audible!
Dr Tan explains that your gynaecologist will probably carefully look around the gestational sac to check that all is good. They will also check for any fibroids, ovarian cysts or other growths.
Besides the various tests mentioned above, your gynaecologist will also check your blood pressure and temperature and do a urine protein test.
Questions to Ask During Your First Prenatal Visit
Don’t hold back on asking your gynaecologist all those questions you’re probably bursting to ask, especially if it’s your first pregnancy. Dr Gordon Lim, also a Singapore-based gynaecologist, suggests asking questions about the following topics:
1. Suitable food: Find out about the kind of foods you should be eating more during your pregnancy. And also the ones you should avoid like processed food, fizzy drinks and more. Your gynaecologist will also advise you on how much weight you should gain through your pregnancy. Don’t forget to talk to your doctor about a suitable prenatal vitamin.
2. Work and travel: Talk to your doctor about the type of work you do. If your work involves long hours or frequent travel, learn about its impact on your pregnancy and when you should scale back.
3. Mode of delivery: Ask your doctor questions about natural birth and/or Caesarean delivery. While the mode of delivery is your choice, learn about the pros and cons of each method, which should help you decide.
4. Emotions and Symptoms: If you have been getting unusual pregnancy-related cravings and are wondering whether they are normal, do ask your doctor about them. Keep in mind that pregnancy is not just a physical experience – it is equally an emotional experience. So if you have been experiencing mood swings or other emotions, don’t hesitate to talk to your doctor about them.
5. Sex: Women often experience an increase in libido during pregnancy, but their partners may be hesitant to engage sexually for various reasons. Talk to your gynaecologist about sex during pregnancy. When is it okay, and if (and when) it’s not? Your partner should be around for this too.
Your Gynaecologist’s Availability On Your Due Date
Find out if your doctor will be available on your expected due date. If they are unavailable on those dates, ask who the replacement gynaecologist would be and if you can meet them. Also, ask your gynaecologist if you can contact him/her at any time and the best way of doing so.
Guide: All You Need To Know About Your First Trimester
Nutrients and Vitamins Needed By Mums During Pregnancy
8 Fruits To Avoid During The First Trimester Of Your Pregnancy
Checklist For Your First Prenatal Visit
You will visit your gynaecologist for the first time in the fifth week of pregnancy. Before you do, here’s a checklist to make your time worth the effort.
1. Carry Your Medical History
Your doctor will be interested in knowing about you and your partner. This includes both your respective medical history as well as that of each of your families. This is all the more critical when your family are known to have genetic conditions or hereditary problems. Also, carry your medical history, especially if you’ve had previous pregnancies, miscarriages, or fertility issues.
2. Track Your Periods
Your gynaecologist will be able to determine the estimated due date (EDD) based on the first day of your last menstrual period (LMP). You can check with the doctor for his availability at the time and also make other arrangements as required.
3. Making Changes In Lifestyle Choices
Pregnancies can be highly demanding, especially from the mother, and may require dramatic changes in your lifestyle. You will have to give up on alcohol
, smoking and even drug use during pregnancy. Speak to your doctor about withdrawal issues and how to cope with the same.
4. Conduct All The Tests Recommended By Your Doctor
Expectant mothers must undergo a full-body check-up, and your gynaecologist will likely give you a detailed list of blood screening tests
that are part of the prenatal care routine.
Mums-to-be, your gynaecologist, will be your best friend for the next nine months. Make the most of your first prenatal visit and forge a strong relationship to help you through your pregnancy journey.
Updates by Pheona Ilagan
Here at theAsianparent Singapore, it’s important for us to give information that is correct, significant, and timely. But this doesn’t serve as an alternative for medical advice or medical treatment. theAsianparent Singapore is not responsible for those that would choose to drink medicines based on information from our website. If you have any doubts, we recommend consulting your doctor for clearer information.