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What to Expect at Your First Prenatal Visit


Photo Credit: @___muse_

You’ve found out you’re expecting and made your first prenatal appointment with your doctor. It’s both an exciting time and also marks the start of a new chapter where there’s much to learn, especially for first-time parents. To help demystify what to expect out of your first prenatal visit, we consulted with Dr. Banafsheh Bayati, M.D., a board-certified OB/GYN in Los Angeles, California, who gave us a rundown of everything you need to know to prep.

Perelel: What can someone expect from their first prenatal visit?

Dr. Banafsheh Bayati: The first prenatal visit is intended to establish an intrauterine pregnancy, meaning we are making sure that the conception has occurred in the right place in the womb. We do this by an ultrasound exam. We can determine the date of conception and thus the estimated date of delivery. If the pregnancy is beyond six weeks then the fetal heartbeat can be seen. This is a great time to meet new doctors and find someone you connect with. There is much to learn about diet, activity, anticipated weight gain, testing options, prenatal vitamins, and all of the upcoming changes to your body.

P: What are the biggest takeaways you give your patients at their first doctor visit?

BB: I ideally like to see my patients before they conceive, but whenever I see you for the first time I like to make sure you are up to date on vaccinations, review your medical history (including family and medication history), go over herbal supplements, and start you on prenatal vitamins. I prefer folate supplementation over folic acid, which is recommended up to three months prior to conception.1 I also like to discuss what is best to avoid in early pregnancy beyond the obvious (tobacco, alcohol, radiation) that patients may not consider, such as steroid creams or pills, Retin-A facial products, certain medications and alternatives to those medications, as well as toxins in our lives that we can avoid such as pesticides, harmful household chemicals, excess stress, and pertinent travel risks, like Zika for example.

P: What are some common symptoms you see at a first prenatal visit?

BB: Depending on the timing and your genetics, it's possible to have zero symptoms to quite significant symptoms, and anything in between. Often patients will not have any symptoms until about six and a half weeks of pregnancy, or four and a half weeks from conception. You may experience nausea, vomiting, fatigue, or breast tenderness. It's also important to know that up to 30 percent of women experience some form of vaginal bleeding in their first trimester.2 It is a common but unsettling symptom. It's important to let your doctor know and have them evaluate it, but rest assured that most of the time it resolves without harm. It's also common to feel growing pains, which patients describe as low-level, menstrual-like cramps that are sometimes worse on one side compared to the other. This is due to the rapidly growing womb and enlarged ovary that released the egg for ovulation. This ovary remains at a higher volume in size and is releasing progesterone to support the uterine lining and pregnancy. Eventually, the placenta takes over this function and the growing pains evolve into the second trimester round ligament pain. It's all your body adjusting and changing for your growing baby.

How are you feeling about your first prenatal visit? Be sure to tell us on social and let us know if you have any questions you want to see answered.

1 CDC. Folic Acid. Cdc.gov.
2 Bleeding during pregnancy | American pregnancy association. Americanpregnancy.org.

This article is for informational purposes only. It is not, nor is it intended to be, a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment and we recommend that you always consult with your healthcare provider. To the extent that this article features the advice of physicians or medical practitioners, the views expressed are the views of the cited expert and do not necessarily represent the views of Perelel.