11 Questions To Ask Your Obstetrician/Gynaecologist At Your First Prenatal Visit
Congratulations, those two little lines mean you’re pregnant. You’re going to have a baby! It’s an exciting and scary time, particularly if this is an unplanned pregnancy. It’s not unusual to replay the past four weeks and wonder if you’ve done anything that could harm the baby.
That’s in the past. Now, you need to focus on what comes next: preparing for your first prenatal visit.
To set your mind at ease, we’ve compiled a list of the most popular questions asked by expecting moms. Your obstetrician will cover all of these and any other questions you may have, but until then, read on.
- When do I need to book my first prenatal visit?
- What to expect at my first prenatal visit?
- How often should I visit my doctor?
- Is my health history important?
- Should I change my diet?
- What medication can I take?
- Can I exercise during pregnancy?
- What changes can I expect during pregnancy?
- Should I have genetic screening done?
- How much weight should I gain?
- Who do I contact if I have any concerns?
1. When do I need to book my first prenatal visit?
You should book your first prenatal appointment as soon as you discover you’re pregnant. If you don’t have a gynaecologist, ask your friends who’ve had babies if they’d recommend anyone or speak to your local GP. Mention the hospital you’d like to give birth at and if they know of a good obstetrician gynaecologist.
Ideally, you want to book your first prenatal appointment around 6-8 weeks. If you’re unsure, use the first day of your last period to calculate how far along you are in your pregnancy.
2. What to expect at my first prenatal visit?
At your first appointment, you’ll be asked to fill in a number of medical forms before seeing your gynaecologist. You’ll also be weighed and asked for a urine sample.
This first appointment will likely be your longest, as your OB/GYN will use the time to get to know you and your medical history, family history, health and any risks they need to be aware of.
They’ll ask if you’re taking any medication before performing a physical exam. This determines exactly how far along you are, if your baby has a strong heartbeat and your expected due date.
The ultrasound will also show if you’re expecting multiples. During your physical, your doctor will also assess your pelvis and uterus. This is to ensure they’re healthy.
After the examination, your doctor will book your next appointment and send you for blood tests.
3. How often should I visit my doctor?
This really depends on your birth plan. If you plan to have a home birth with a midwife, you’ll only see your gynaecologist for your first scan and one or two follow-ups. The rest of your pregnancy will be monitored by the midwife.
Once you’ve had your initial consult and you’re deemed healthy with no high-risk factors that need to be monitored more frequently, your OB/GYN will schedule check-ups once a month up until 36 weeks. After that, your doctor will arrange to see you once a week until you reach full term.
We recommend you see a gynaecologist regularly for check-ups and to address any concerns you have. Regular monitoring and blood work will help to detect and address issues early. For more information, reach out to a Welwitschia specialist. We’re here to help.
4. Is my health history important?
Absolutely. It’s vital you discuss your full medical history, including your immediate family medical history, with your doctor. This gives them a complete picture of any previous medication, complications or surgeries you’ve had prior to falling pregnant.
Certain health conditions place you at a higher risk during pregnancy, for example, diabetes, high blood pressure, heart problems and hyperthyroidism or hypothyroidism.
Your doctor also needs to know if you’ve previously miscarried or are on chronic medication for a physical or mental health condition. This is to ensure the safety of your unborn baby and you, the mother.
Please remember that most health conditions are manageable, so discussing them openly with your specialist is essential.
5. Should I change my diet?
It’s completely normal to gain a healthy amount of weight during pregnancy. But to give your baby the best start in life, you want to limit unhealthy foods and avoid certain items which could lead to complications.
While it may seem like a long list, there are a few beverages and foods you should avoid altogether.
Things to avoid when you are pregnant:
- Shellfish, raw fish or any fish with a high mercury content – these are predatory fish, including Dorado, Sailfish, Swordfish or Tuna.
- Sushi is a definite no-no – any undercooked meat or fish can lead to long-term harm and the potential to contract Listeria.
- Alcohol and smoking during pregnancy are known to affect your baby’s development, so don’t do it.
- Raw or undercooked meat or processed meat, like deli ham or hot dogs, are out.
- Raw eggs or any meals made with raw eggs such as homemade mayonnaise and ice cream and unpasteurised milk and soft-ripened cheeses.
- Raw sprouts in salad and unwashed fruit or vegetables.
- Processed fast food and food with high sugar content like chocolate, sweets, and cakes must be limited.
Instead, add non-starchy vegetables and whole grains to your meal plan. Not only does this help to avoid birth complications, but it’s good for you and your baby to have a nutrient-rich diet consisting of fruit, vegetables, protein, healthy fats and fibre-rich carbohydrates.
If you’re a coffee-lover, you can still have caffeine, but limit it to less than 200mg a day. Consider swapping out your caffeine fix for decaffeinated coffee. It’s just as delicious. And switch to Rooibos tea as opposed to Earl Grey or Ceylon.
6. What medication can I take?
Give your gynaecologist a rundown of any chronic medication you’re currently on or have taken within the last few years. It’s also a good idea to mention any supplements and over-the-counter medications you’re taking.
Your doctor will advise you to supplement your diet with folic acid and a prenatal vitamin. Ideally, you want to start taking these a few months before you fall pregnant; one month before is good, three month is better.
Certain medications can have side effects or cause complications, so check with your obstetrician before popping a pill. In most cases, you’ll be able to find an alternative. Rarely will you have to stop taking your medication.
Avoid taking any herbal medication, non-essential supplements or natural remedies during pregnancy unless you’ve discussed it with your doctor and it’s safe to do so. You’ll also want to check which over-the-counter medicines are safe to take during pregnancy, particularly if there are any that you regularly use, such as headache tablets or pain tablets.
Disprin lovers will need to switch to Panado as it doesn’t have aspirin which isn’t good for your baby.
7. Can I exercise during pregnancy?
If you were physically active before falling pregnant, most gynaecologists will recommend you continue doing your exercises, provided those activities aren’t too strenuous for you or your baby.
Exercising at least 2 hours a week can help you maintain a healthy weight during pregnancy and ease back pain, swelling or constipation.
Ease up on your work-outs as your pregnancy progresses because your growing belly will start to put pressure on your diaphragm. It’ll become more uncomfortable to run, and you’ll notice that your breathing becomes laboured more easily. You may also have less energy.
Sports to avoid during pregnancy:
It’s best to avoid high-impact sports such as horseback riding, water-skiing and off-road cycling. We also advise that you stop close-contact sports such as hockey or netball, scuba diving, roller skating, surfing, rock-climbing or any racket sports.
A fall or racket in your abdomen can be fatal to your unborn baby.
Exercises safe for pregnancy:
Swimming, yoga (except hot yoga), walking, jogging, Pilates, lightweight training and stationary bike riding are perfectly safe.
8. What changes can I expect during pregnancy?
During pregnancy, your hormones are constantly changing, and this can affect your mood and energy levels. Morning sickness is a common symptom that usually begins around week six and stops at the end of the first trimester.
Some women are lucky and don’t experience it. Others may suffer from hyperemesis gravidarum, which is severe morning sickness. In this case, your doctor will closely monitor your health to ensure you don’t lose too much weight or become dehydrated.
Another common change is swelling in the legs and feet and varicose veins. Speak to your doctor about exercises you can do while pregnant to limit swelling and back pain.
Some women experience heartburn or constipation, but this can be managed simply by avoiding eating certain foods or changing your diet.
Haemorrhoids, lack of sleep and low energy are also common. Drink plenty of water, rest well, exercise and maintain a healthy weight and diet to minimise any changes you may experience.
Some women develop gestational diabetes during pregnancy. This is when hormones in the placenta affect insulin levels resulting in high blood sugar. Your doctor will want to monitor you closely as you may need to be medicated.
Preeclampsia is another complication that causes high blood pressure and swelling in the feet, hands or face. This can be incredibly dangerous to you and your unborn baby. In most cases, your obstetrician will recommend control of your blood pressure and earlier delivery, such as a Caesar.
This is why it’s vital to keep your appointments with your doctor so they can monitor any changes and take action if need be.
9. Should I have genetic screening done?
Depending on your age, health and whether you fall into a high-risk category, you may have genetic screening done at different stages of your pregnancy. There are various tests available, including prenatal testing for abnormalities.
During your first trimester, your doctor will perform an ultrasound scan and test for Down syndrome. At 15-20 weeks, blood can be taken from Mom to screen for spina bifida. At 20 weeks, you can have a detailed foetal anomaly scan. At 28 weeks, a glucose tolerance test can be done to help detect gestational diabetes.
Discuss the various types of screening you can have done with your doctor, and remember to mention any critical family medical history that may be relevant.
10. How much weight should I gain?
What is a healthy weight gain in pregnancy? Most women gain between 12,5kg and 15kg during pregnancy.
Someone with a high body mass index (BMI) should expect to gain between 7kg and 11kg, whereas if you’re overweight, you should gain about 5kg to 9kg.
Your doctor will weigh you at each scheduled appointment, check your blood pressure, and take a urine sample to check glucose levels. If need be, they’ll advise you on the proper food plan to keep your target weight throughout your pregnancy. Keeping fit and healthy will help you to bounce back after giving birth.
11. Who do I contact if I have any concerns?
When in doubt, call your obstetrician. Don’t Google.
Ask your doctor for their after-hours or emergency contact details. Otherwise, call or email their practice anytime during the day. Contact the hospital immediately if you have any concerns or think you’re going into labour.
Even if you are considering a home birth, your midwife should have a doctor present in case you need an emergency C-section. Discuss with your gynaecologist the options available to you earlier rather than later.
If you have any questions or concerns, don’t hesitate to contact Welwitschia Hospital on (+264) 64 218 911 or have a look at our great selection of Gynaecologists and Obstetricians here.
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