Prenatal care in the first trimester is an important part of a healthy pregnancy. Your doctor or nurse practitioner is a part of your team that will help you to deliver a healthy baby that has a good start in life.
Whether you chose to use a family practitioner, gynecologist or nurse mid-wife your prenatal care is the key to monitoring your health and the health of your growing baby.
When Should You Have Your First Prenatal Visit?
As soon as you think you may be pregnant schedule your first prenatal appointment. Ask the receptionist that schedules the appointment how much time the appointment will take.
You and your health practitioner will likely have plenty to discuss. If you choose to use your family practitioner they may already have some of the information that is gathered in the first visit. But if you are going to use an obstetrician or nurse mid-wife they will be gathering all of this information during your first visit.
What To Expect During Your First Prenatal Visit?
During your first prenatal visit your practitioner will gather information about your medical history which includes:
- Your past medical history
- The history of your family
- Any medications you are currently taking.
This information will help them to plan your pregnancy and evaluate any conditions that may arise during these next nine months.
They will also do a physical examination to check your initial weight, height and blood pressure. Some conditions later in pregnancy will affect your blood pressure values or will increase your weight dramatically.
When the physician knows your values prior to any adverse condition they can more appropriately prescribe your treatment.
Determining Your Due Date
Prenatal care in the first trimester will also include a determination of your due date. This will help your practitioner to monitor the growth of your baby and compare it against the established norms.
To estimate the date the practitioner will count 40 weeks forward from the date of your last period. This isn’t the date of your missed period but the date of your last period before conception.
Gestation, or the amount of time it takes for your baby to grow to full term, is approximately 38-40 weeks.
The date the doctor will give you may change as you reach your third trimester and the growth and maturation of the baby becomes more apparent. Each child is individual and the date is really a guesstimate of the date you are due.
During your first doctor visit of your prenatal care in the first trimester the doctor will most probably do a pelvic exam. If you haven’t had a Pap smear you may have one done at this time. When the doctor examines your vagina and cervix (opening to the uterus) they will also be able to confirm the stage of your pregnancy.
Your doctor may order blood tests to determine your blood type and Rh factor. Rh is a specific protein on the surface of the red blood cells. Expecting moms who are Rh negative may have to take certain precautions for the health of their baby.
The blood tests can also reveal if you’ve been exposed to or have immunity for mumps, rubella, hepatitis B, chickenpox and toxoplasmosis. You may also be offered a test for AIDs/HIV.
Lifestyle in Your First Trimester
During your prenatal care in the first trimester the doctor will also address lifestyle issues that will give your baby the best start possible. These lifestyle changes may include sexual relations, smoking, over the counter medications, douching, exercise and travel.
Always ask your doctor for advice about these situations as well. During your pregnancy sexual relations is acceptable in a normal, healthy pregnancy but it should be avoided at certain times that may injure the mother or baby. Ask your doctor for more information.
Smoking should be completely avoided while you are pregnant because women who smoke will have smaller babies, have a higher risk of miscarriage, pre-term labor and death of the baby.
Over the counter medications may potentially be harmful to the baby. There are many medications that normally appear safe but have been found to be harmful. For instance, taking ibuprofen after 28 weeks can cause blood flow problems to the baby and distress in the baby. There are medications that are safe for headaches, coughs or colds, but you must check with your doctor first.
Douching During Pregnancy
Douching should be completely avoided during pregnancy because it can force infection, bacteria and viruses up through the cervix and into the uterus. Mild exercise is good for the mother and child.
Travel during pregnancy isn’t harmful but prolonged sitting should be avoided. A pregnant woman should walk around to increase the circulation to her legs and avoid blood clots at least every 2 hours.
MedlinePlus: Prenatal Care in Your First Trimester
MayoClinic: Prenatal Care: 1st Trimester Visits