Your first pregnancy can be a nerve-wracking time with so many unanswered questions and bodily changes to deal with. It’s also a time when you need to prepare for the massive transformation that will happen over the next few months, and subsequently in your life.
And to make this process stress-free and safe, gynaecologists will be your constant support and confidante throughout the pregnancy period. Your first visit to the gynaecologist will help your forge that relationship. One of our readers had similar concerns about their pregnancy, and here’s what Dr Dana had to say on what to expect at your first appointment with the gynaecologist.
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Reader: Hi Dr Dana. I just did my pregnancy test and got a positive result. I believe I’m in the fifth week as of now. When should I go to visit my gynaecologist and what should I expect during the first visit?
Dr Dana: You can visit any doctor and get a blood test done. This test will tell you how much of the pregnancy hormone, Human Choroid Gonadotrophin (HCG), is in your blood and approximately how far along you are.
The HCG hormone starts to circulate your body once the embryo has implanted in the uterus. It is actually the fertilised egg that secretes HCG. This hormone stimulates the cyst on the ovary, the corpus luteum, to produce more progesterone, which will maintain the pregnancy.
This HCG/progesterone system sticks around for about 12-14 weeks until the placenta is fully functional and takes over progesterone production. The cyst goes away and HCG levels drop at this point, and not needed.
Many doctors do a quantitative blood test to measure the exact amount of HCG present and make sure it is doubling every 2-3 days. If it isn’t then there might be a complication or the pregnancy might be in danger. You might have several of these blood tests done in the first two to three weeks to make sure all is good. Some doctors don’t bother to do a quantitative test and just do a yes or no confirmation blood test, the qualitative test. It basically says the same thing as a home urine test.
A way to calculate the Estimated Due Date (EDD) by dates is to subtract three from the month, and add seven to the day, of the first day of your last menstrual period (LMP).
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Your first appointment with a gynaecologist will be at around 6-8 weeks in your pregnancy, once confirmed. The doctor will ask you to get a series of tests done. Besides the normal blood pressure, temperature, and urine protein test, you will have a huge blood draw at this time.
Expecting mothers will also be asked about their medical history and that of their partner. This also includes the family’s medical history to learn more about any underlying problems like a hereditary disease or a genetic condition that may affect the pregnancy.
You may also get a pelvic exam to see how you are progressing and that is completely normal. The doctor will also conduct the first ultrasound of your baby, without the full features of course.
Tests That Your Gynaecologist Will Run On Your Blood:
1. Full blood cell count (FBC).
2. Blood typing and screening for Rh antibodies.
3. Syphilis, hepatitis, gonorrhoea, chlamydia, and other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), including human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).
4. Previous exposure to some viral diseases, especially German measles (rubella).
5. Others, depending on your past medical history, eg thyroid diseases.
If you are wondering what questions to ask your gynaecologist during your first visit, do read my article “Pregnancy questions for Doctors in Singapore.”
Pregnancy Question Answered By:
Dr Dana Elliott Srither MBBS (Singapore), Grad Dip Family Medicine, is a certified Family Physician who believes in the principles of “Get Well” and “Stay Well.”
Things To Remember When Visiting Your Gynaecologist During The Pandemic
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1. Try Online Consultation
Most doctors today offer online consultations in order to minimise physical contact and you could too opt for the same. It’s the safest way to ensure your baby and you are safe from contracting any virus, especially given the uncertainty around COVID-19.
2. Always Carry A Face Mask, Sanitiser & Gloves
Should you have to visit the gynaecologist at the hospital, always make sure to carry the essentials. This includes the face mask, sanitiser and hand gloves. You can go the extra mile and buy a face shield as well, in addition to the face mask for added protection. Make sure to sanitise your bags, clothes and other accessories that you were carrying after the visit, to minimise risk.
3. Plan Your Visits
Not just your first visit, but you will have to plan your next couple of visits to the gynaecologist in the wake of the pandemic. Before visiting any healthcare provider, ask yourself these questions:
- Is my visit necessary and do I have any symptoms that need immediate attention?
- How much of the COVID-19 virus is spreading in my community?
- Can I consult the doctor online using a laptop or a phone?
At the same time, do not ignore a visit to the doctor just because of the pandemic. You will need to see a gynaecologist in person if any of the following issues crop up.
- If you have a fever or vaginal infection
- Pain in the pelvis, abdomen or lower back, which could point towards an ectopic pregnancy
- Problems with recovery from a procedure
- Severe vaginal bleeding
4. Stay In Touch With Your Gynaecologist
With online treatments and consultations being a thing now, it’s only fair that you use them to your advantage. you can schedule frequent appointments with your gynaecologist.
5. Sanitise, Sanitise, Sanitise
There’s nothing better than preventing yourself from the virus and that means sanitising as frequently as necessary. This is particularly important in public spaces, especially on the off day when you will have to visit a lab to drop your blood samples or for any routine test procedures. Insist on having the sanitisation done to avoid any future risks. If you can schedule an appointment at home for blood collection among other things, that will always be a preferred choice.
Register now for SPF webinars here.
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