Once you have confirmation of your pregnancy from a home pregnancy test or blood or urine test at the doctor’s office, you should call and schedule your first prenatal visit. Your pregnancy may be monitored by one of several health care professionals, including an obstetrician, nurse practitioner, midwife, or family doctor. Most practitioners will only see you now that you have missed two periods. This is to cut down on false pregnancies and miscarriages. Good prenatal care is extremely important for the health and safe delivery of your baby, so be sure to make prenatal appointments a top priority.
In preparation for your first prenatal visit, take the time to familiarize yourself with your family’s health history and to review your medical records. Have you had any chronic illnesses, allergies, or surgeries? Are you currently taking any prescription medications? Do you know of any genetic disorders that run in your family? Has your menstrual cycle been regular, and have you had any past pregnancies? Do you smoke or drink alcohol? What are your exercise habits? These are the things your health care provider will want to discuss with you, so it will help to have this information at your fingertips when you go.
At this first appointment, the following will take place:
- Urine Sample (protein, hCG, etc.)
- Blood Pressure Test
- Weight (baseline)
- Pelvic Exam (size of uterus, cysts, coloring of cervix)
- Pap Smear (some practitioners do this now, others wait)
- Blood (Rh factor, iron levels, immunities, specifically rubella)
- Family History (complications that may be predictable)
By the end of the week, your baby will be between 8-11mm. At that stage, the brain will be clearly visible and the gonads will have developed into either testes or ovaries. The digestive system continues to develop; the intestines are growing longer and the anus is formed. Bone formation starts this week, and elbow joints and toe rays will start to be visible. The fingers and toes are just beginning to form this week and the arms can flex at the elbows and wrists. In addition, more facial developments such as the formation of the tip of the nose and the upper lip take place, and flaps of skin over the eyes begin to shape into eyelids. Blood begins to flow through a rudimentary circulatory system. Watch out for your baby’s spontaneous movement!
Revision date: June 22, 2011
Last revised: by Andrew G. Epstein, M.D.