There’s nothing quite like the joy and excitement you experience when you find out you’re pregnant. One of the best first steps that you can take for yourself and your baby is to find a qualified obstetrician that meets your needs.
You’re more than likely going to have a lot of questions, especially if this is your first pregnancy. So, it helps to have someone you can trust and rely on as you begin this fulfilling journey.
Whether you’re still searching for the right obstetrician or have scheduled your first appointment, here are some of the most important questions you should take along with you.
Important questions to ask during your first prenatal visit
1. What is your birth philosophy?
Even if you haven’t yet considered your choices regarding delivery, it does still help to have this conversation with your obstetrician. You will have more than enough time to decide how you feel about birth positions, pain management and breastfeeding. However, knowing what options your obstetrician will support can help you decide whether she is the right fit for you.
2. What is my estimated due date?
The date of the first day of your last menstrual cycle is what your obstetrician will use to calculate your due date. Most pregnancies last anywhere from 38 – 40 weeks from that date. It should also be noted that most due dates are an estimate. If you have a history of irregular menstrual cycles, an ultrasound might be required to determine how far along you are.
3. How will I know whether the symptoms I’m experiencing are normal?
Your body is about to go through an array of changes, with tender breasts, fatigue and cramping being some of the earliest signs of pregnancy. As you head into your first trimester, morning sickness, headaches, dizziness, cravings and constipation may become a concern. These symptoms can continue well into your third trimester, all the way up until birth.
However, if at any point you experience pain and cramping accompanied by bleeding, or unusual discharge, it’s important to get in touch with your obstetrician right away or head to hospital.
4. How much weight should I gain during my pregnancy?
To determine how much healthy weight gain you can expect, you will need to know your body mass index (BMI). If your BMI is between 18.5 and 24.9, you should gain anywhere from 11 kg to 15kg. For a BMI between 25 and 29.9, you should gain anywhere from 6 kg to 11 kg. In the case of twins, your weight gain will be different. This is a very basic guideline though and patients should rather get a more accurate estimate from their obstetrician.
5. Who will deliver my baby?
The person who delivers your baby will differ depending on the practice you choose. In some instances, the obstetrician you originally meet with will deliver your baby. However, other practices will have an obstetrician on call, who will deliver your baby on or before your due date. If it’s important to you that your obstetrician delivers your baby, find a practice that can assist you with this preference. With this being said, in unforeseen circumstances, your obstetrician might not be available on the day of your birth, so find out what would happen in this scenario.
6. What kind of exercise can I still do during pregnancy?
It’s always a good idea to stay healthy and active throughout your pregnancy for your sake and your baby’s. It can also help with symptoms such as anxiety and water retention. Walking, swimming and hatha yoga are some of the best forms of exercise to engage in during pregnancy. If you enjoy a specific type of exercise, you will need to find out whether it’s safe. Any exercises that place additional strain on your abdominal area or would cause you to dehydrate are not recommended, horse riding and Bikram yoga being two examples.
7. What medications and supplements can I no longer take?
If you’re currently taking any specific medication or supplements, this will be discussed during your appointment. Your obstetrician can then advise you on whether it’s still safe for you to take them. You will also be given a general list of medications that you should avoid during pregnancy.
8. Is my pregnancy high-risk?
There are several factors that could make your pregnancy high-risk, include your age and any pre-existing conditions. Women over the age of 35 and conditions such as heart disease and diabetes can increase the chance of complications. However, every patient is different. Your obstetrician will need to review your medical history before it can be determined that your pregnancy is high-risk.
9. What prenatal screening and testing do you recommend?
Factors such as age, genetics and ethnicity will all determine what type of tests you should undergo during pregnancy. There is no one right way to approach testing though. This is one area where your obstetrician can really help you make more informed decisions.
10. How will I know whether I am going into labour?
Labour signs aren’t the same for everyone. For example, you might be expecting a lot of fluid when your water breaks but this is hardly ever the case. If your baby is in the heads-down position, it can reduce the amount of fluid during the initial stages of labour. Contractions that get worse and the loosening of the mucus plug are other signs that you might be going into labour. Some women experience severe back pain once their baby starts moving into the birth canal. The right obstetrician will always tell you what to expect during this stage of your pregnancy though.
In the days leading up to your first prenatal appointment, other questions may crop up. It’s important to write these down but also remember that your obstetrician will provide you with as much information as possible during each appointment. There is no need to know absolutely everything after your first appointment. First focus on finding the right obstetrician and understanding the fundamentals.