What to expect at your first prenatal appointment

by Kaiser Permanente |
Couple is looking at ultrasound photo.

Regular visits with a clinician are an important part of staying healthy during your pregnancy. Your first prenatal appointment will likely be the longest. After all, there’s a lot of information you’ll want to share.

Be sure to schedule your first prenatal appointment as soon as you know you’re pregnant. You’ll see your clinician between weeks 7 and 12 of your pregnancy.

To prepare for your first appointment, make a list of any questions you have. Don’t hesitate to let your clinician know if you have any worries or challenges. You should also write down all the medications you take, including over-the-counter drugs and supplements.

What happens at your first appointment

A clinician will perform a physical exam that includes a breast exam, pelvic exam, and Pap test if you’re due for one. You’ll also talk about your personal medical history. Your clinician will ask about your family health history as well.

Your clinician will discuss how to stay healthy throughout your pregnancy. This includes information about your physical and emotional well-being. A clinician can share information about nutrition and exercise, along with tips for gaining weight in a healthy manner. You’ll also learn about breastfeeding and how it can help give your baby a great start in life.

The first ultrasound

Many people look forward to their first ultrasound, which usually happens at the initial prenatal visit. This ultrasound gives you the opportunity to hear your baby’s heartbeat. It’ll be fast — about 100 to 160 beats per minute!

An ultrasound gives your clinician a better idea about your due date. It also helps them see how healthy your placenta is, determine your baby’s position in your uterus, and check to see if you’re having more than one baby.

The first ultrasound is usually performed vaginally. A clinician will insert a thin device into your vagina to collect ultrasound images. You may be able to see your baby’s developing body, including dots where their eyes and nose will form. You might also be able to see the short stubs that will eventually become their arms and legs.

This article has been created by a national group of Kaiser Permanente ob-gyns, certified nurse-midwives, pediatricians, lactation consultants and other specialists who came together to provide you with the best pregnancy, birth, postpartum, and newborn information.

Some of the content is used and adapted with permission of The Permanente Medical Group.