Prenatal Care: Your First Prenatal Visit

What to Expect at Your First Prenatal Visit

The first thing you'll have to do is weigh in. It's common for most women to gain weight during the first trimester, so don't be surprised.

Second, your doctor will take your blood pressure, a urine sample and draw some blood. This helps detect any problems that could affect your health or your baby's.

Third, you'll receive a routine gynecological exam. "Your doctor will ask you a lot of questions at that first appointment," says Stone. "No, she's not prying. She's just trying to get the kind of information she needs to give you the best medical care. So when she asks about your lifestyle, gynecological history and family background, give her the whole story."

Also be sure to provide your ethnic background, adds Stone. "I always ask patients...not because I'm nosy, but because there are certain genetic diseases that are more common among different populations."

At the first appointment, you'll also find out just how pregnant you are. And your doctor may discuss the different prenatal tests that are available to ensure that the fetus is healthy, including ultrasound which can help screen for certain problems and amniocentesis, which detects chromosomal abnormalities in a fetus.

Perhaps the most exciting part of that first visit is listening to the baby's heartbeat for the very first time. "We always document that there's a heartbeat there," says Stone. "It's really important at every OB visit that we make sure that we can show the mother that everything is going fine."

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Keith Eddleman, M.D., is director of prenatal diagnosis in the division of maternal-fetal at Mount Sinai. He teaches medical students, residents and fellows and lectures throughout the world. His areas of expertise are ultrasound and reproductive genetics.

Joanne Stone, M.D., is director of the perinatal ultrasound unit at Mount Sinai and cares for patients with problem pregnancies.

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