I remember that feeling of being a first time mom and seeing that pink line show up on the pregnancy test. It was such an exciting feeling. Once the dust settles you start to consider all the things you will soon experience. One of those important steps is finding a doctor and starting your prenatal care. I’ve compiled 50 questions to ask at your first prenatal appointment to help you ensure you have the right provider and feel confident moving through your pregnancy. So many things are changing and it’s important to have a good understanding of what to expect and what you can do to take control of your experience.
Table of Contents
What Do I Need to Prepare Before the Appointment?
It is important to do some research ahead of time to make this experience a positive one. It starts with choosing a OBGYN or Midwife and a location you would like to deliver your baby. Once you have made that decision you can set the appointment and make a few preparations.
It is important to put together some information to share with your provider at your first appointment. This may be their first experience getting to know you so help them get a good picture of your health history, lifestyle, ad goals throughout the pregnancy. This is what to bring to your first prenatal appointment:
- Medical History: Write down all your medical conditions (asthma, diabetes, high blood pressure, thyroid disease, anxiety, depression, etc). Everything that you are currently being treated for or have been treated for in the past. Including surgeries.
- Family Medical History: Talk with both the baby’s father and your parents, siblings, grandparents about their medical history. This information can help highlight things that could become problematic in your pregnancy and will guide providers in recommending genetic testing.
- Fertility History: The date of your last period, how regular your periods are, any medications you were taking for your period, any fertility treatments, and your most recent pap smear.
- Past Pregnancies: This includes any live births, stillbirths, premature deliveries, complications during pregnancy or delivery, miscarriages, ectopic pregnancies/tubal pregnancies, or elective terminations.
- Medications: Bring a list of all of the over the counter medications you are currently or occasionally taking, prescribed medications, supplements, or vitamins.
- Dietary Habits: Be able to walk through what your typical diet looks like so they can recommend any appropriate changes to support you and your baby through this pregnancy.
- Mental Health: Be prepared to share with your provider any mental health struggles you are currently experiencing or have experienced in the past. You will want to discuss with them what treatments you have used, what has worked, and what changes will need to be made during your pregnancy. This information can also help guide them in supporting your mental health through all stages of pregnancy and postpartum.
- Lifestyle: Be prepared to discuss exercise habits, travel to any locations with infectious disease concerns, tobacco, drug & alcohol use, caffeine use, and any domestic abuse or safety concerns.
I also recommend pondering what you would want your labor experience to look like. There are many ways to deliver a baby, but it is good to be prepared to discuss some of those options with your provider in your first visit to see if you are a good fit for each other.
What to Expect At Your First Prenatal Appointment?
Typically you can expect your first prenatal visit at 8 weeks -10 weeks. At this appointment you will establish care with either a provider you have seen before or a new provider that is just getting to know you. It is an important time to be honest with them to ensure it is a good fit for both of you. They also need the information they are asking for to help provide you with the best guidance and care throughout your pregnancy.
They will estimate a due date, typically by the first day of your last period. This due date will help guide them in scheduling subsequent prenatal appointments, ultrasounds, and other tests throughout your pregnancy. This date may change after your first ultrasound if measurements suggest your due date is not accurate.
At this appointment they will likely do a basic physical assessment and check your weight, height, and blood pressure to assess overall health at the start of the pregnancy. These data points will be a baseline for your weight gain and development through your pregnancy. Depending on your medical history they may also do breast exam and pelvic exam (pap smear) if you have not had one recently.
Your provider will do several blood and urine tests as well:
- Urine pregnancy test (to confirm your at home test result)
- Blood type + RH factor
- STI Infections
- Immunity to infections like rubella and varicella
- Hemoglobin and hematocrit
- Urine sample to blood for blood, protein, glucose, and protein
Sometimes they will do a bedside ultrasound or transvaginal ultrasound to ensure that the egg has implanted in the uterus and there are no concerns for a ectopic or tubal pregnancy.
This can be a long appointment to get all of the pertinent information. So be prepared to block out a good chunk of your day.
Questions to Ask At Your First Prenatal Appointment
That first appointment is a key opportunity to determine if you and your provider are a good fit. It’s best to figure this out early in your pregnancy so you can make adjustments if needed. It’s a lot easier to switch providers early than wait until 30+ weeks although it can still be done. These questions to ask at your first prenatal appointment will help you to feel more prepared going forward in your pregnancy.
- What symptoms should I expect? How can I manage them?
- Based on my past medical history and family history am I predisposed for any conditions? What can I do to prevent those complications?
- What symptoms should I be concerned about?
- What symptoms would indicate I need to go to the Emergency Department?
- Do you have any recommendations to combat nausea, constipation, acid reflux, etc?
- What type and amount of exercise do you recommend?
- What foods should I eat more of?
- What foods should I avoid?
- What lifestyle changes do I need to make immediately?
- Can I travel?
- Can I have sex?
- Can I continue my current job?
- How long can I work through my pregnancy?
- Are the products I’m using safe?
- How much sleep do I need to be getting? What positions should I sleep in?
- How much water should I drink daily?
- How much caffeine can I safely drink?
- Can I color my hair? nails done? massage?
- If I am not feeling well should I contact you or my Primary Care Physician?
- What screenings or tests should I expect? What do those tests tell you?
- Are you available by phone/text/or email? When is it best to contact you?
- How frequently will my appointments be? How often will I get an ultrasound?
- Would you recommend any prenatal screenings or genetic testing?
- Are there any particular prenatal classes you recommend?
- Are there any vaccinations I will need to get throughout my pregnancy?
- When can we detect a heartbeat?
- When should I expect to feel the baby move?
- How will I know my baby is growing well?
- When can I find out my baby’s gender?
- How is my due date calculated?
- When should I start looking for a Pediatrician? Can you recommend a quality Pediatrician?
Birth & Postpartum
- What is your position on _____? (inductions, c sections, epidurals, etc)
- When should I put together my birth plan?
- What can I expect during my labor and delivery?
- Who will I see during my pregnancy and delivery? How long have they been practicing?
- What is your c section rate? C section rate in your group?
- Would you support me in a VBAC delivery? How can you support me? (if you have had a c section previously and interested in vaginally delivering)
- What breastfeeding support can I expect after birth?
- Is a home birth a safe option for me?
- If I go beyond my due date will you want to induce labor? If so when?
- What can I expect with an induction if it is necessary?
- Explain to me your approach is labor is not progressing as quickly as you would like.
- Who can I have present at my birth?
- Can i eat or drink during labor?
- What options do I have for pain management?
- Do you offer wireless monitoring or intermittent monitoring during labor?
- Do you practice the Golden Hour?
- Do you practice Delayed cord clamping? Can my partner cut the cord?
- What can I expect in regards to postpartum appointments?
- What resources does your practice offer postpartum (lactation consultant, pelvic floor PT, mental health screenings or providers, etc)?
By asking these questions at your first prenatal appointment you will begin to understand the journey that you are embarking on, what to expect, how to manage symptoms, and find answers to your questions that will continue to arise throughout your pregnancy.
Frequently Asked Questions
This is a really exciting time. Being prepared with questions to ask at your first prenatal appointment will help you to continue to feel that excitement and empower yourself with knowledge and resources to get through all that pregnancy will throw at you. Your body will change so much and having the opportunity to ask questions is essential to preparing for the 30+ weeks ahead.
Jess is a registered nurse with over 6+ years of critical care experience for patients young and old and is the mother of two small children. After having her own children she felt inspired to provide mothers with real actionable guidance and education to make informed decisions throughout their pregnancy and postpartum experience.