Doctor's visit: First trimester
Your first pregnancy visit to the doctor provides the occasion for one of the most complete physical examinations a healthy person will ever have.
Questions you’ll be asked
- Last period. Be prepared to give the date of your last period to determine a due date.
- Your history. The doctor also will want to know about your reproductive history (previous pregnancies, miscarriages, or abortions), any inherited disorders which might be passed on to your child, and any current and past illnesses.
- Your stats. The doctor or nurse will record your height, weight, blood pressure, and pulse.
- Physical. The doctor will give you a general physical examination, paying special attention to the heart, lungs, abdomen, and pelvis.
- Pelvic exam. You’ll also have a pelvic examination, which allows the doctor to estimate the size of the uterus and pelvis.
- Blood test. At your first visit the doctor also will take blood samples to determine:
- Your blood count, to see whether you’re anemic.
- Your blood group, in case you need a transfusion.
- If you have HIV (AIDS) antibodies, which can affect your baby.
- If you have sickle-cell anemia, thalassemia (a rare blood disorder), or Tay-Sachs disease. These tests are only for those at risk.
- If you’re immune to rubella (German measles), a disease that can be devastating if contracted early in pregnancy.
- If a sexually transmitted disease or hepatitis B is present.
- Urinalysis. Measures the protein and sugar in your urine. This test will detect excess protein, which can be a warning sign of preeclampsia: high blood pressure in pregnancy.
- Cervical swab. For those who have had herpes. If the herpes virus is active before delivery, your doctor may suggest a cesarean section to avoid the possibility of infecting your baby.
- Pap smear. To check the cells of the cervix for early signs of cervical cancer.
Scheduling future visits
You’ll see your doctor every month until your 28th week. At that point you’ll need a checkup every three weeks for several visits and then every two weeks. After the 36th week you’ll be seeing your doctor every week until your baby is born.
The important 12th-week visit
Be sure to bring your partner to your 12-week visit, when you’ll be able to hear your baby’s heartbeat. Your doctor will place an electronic amplifying device called a Doptone on your abdomen. This instrument is safe and can be used right in the doctor’s office.
The heartbeat can’t be heard with a regular stethoscope until approximately 20 weeks. What you’ll hear is an earnest little heart pumping at about 140 beats per minute.
Until today your baby may have seemed more like a dream baby—a baby in theory only or just an idea of a child growing inside you. But once you hear the heartbeat, you’ll know your baby is very real.