Health and Wellness
What to expect before, during and after your first prenatal appointment
Ultrasounds, pregnancy plans, blood tests. An M Health Fairview Certified Nurse Midwife and OB/GYN answer some common questions about your first prenatal visit.
- September 30, 2021
- By Staff Writer
Pregnancy is an exciting time, but it can also carry with it plenty of anxiety.
At M Health Fairview, we seek to provide all our patients with as much information as possible, and pregnancy is no exception. We sat down with M Health Fairview Certified Nurse Midwife Ann Forster Page, DNP, APRN, CNM, FACNM, and Obstetrician/Gynecologist Michelle Monson, MD, and asked them for help answering common questions about the first prenatal appointment.
When should I have my first prenatal appointment?
We encourage patients to reach out as soon as they find out they are pregnant. We can then help them through next steps, which vary depending on their specific needs and the location where they want to be seen.
In most cases, an obstetric nurse will first meet with the patient virtually six to eight weeks after their last period. During this call, they see how the patient is feeling, do an initial risk assessment, and review medical and family history. They will also do some initial prenatal education. The nurse will work with the patient to schedule their first in-person appointment. We typically schedule the first in-person prenatal appointment approximately 10 weeks after the first day of a patient’s last period.
To schedule your first prenatal appointment, or request an initial phone call, call the location you’d like to visit. You can choose a location based on the provider you would like to work with, or the M Health Fairview Birthplace where you would like to deliver your baby. Where you receive prenatal care can help determine which Birthplace you use for delivery. Find a Birthplace near you.
Who will I work with at my first prenatal appointment?
Patients can choose which type of provider they would like to start working with for this first appointment – a Certified Nurse Midwife, OB/GYN, or a family medicine physician specialized in obstetrics.
Midwives are registered nurses with an advanced degree in midwifery. Our midwives offer continuous, holistic support during pregnancy and birth. They specialize in medication-free labor support for low-risk pregnancies. However, they are also able to offer pain medication and collaborate closely with OB/GYNs to address any complications that arise.
OB/GYNs provide prenatal care for both low- and high-risk pregnancies, including caesarean sections. Family practice physicians care for patients of all ages, and some are also trained to provide prenatal and delivery care. Some also do cesarean births and manage high-risk pregnancies. We also offer a shared care model, where patients work with their family medicine physician for prenatal care and then an OB/GYN or midwife delivers the baby.
Patients who would like to work with a Certified Nurse Midwife for prenatal care as well may meet with the midwife as early as eight weeks after the first day of their last period and may not have an initial phone visit with a nurse – this varies by location.
What happens during the first prenatal appointment?
Your initial appointment may vary depending on your unique needs and the provider you choose for your care. It’s up to each patient whether they would like to start working with a Certified Nurse Midwife, OB/GYN, or a family medicine physician specialized in obstetrics.
No matter which type of provider you choose, an initial appointment usually includes lab tests and an ultrasound, though in some circumstances the provider may schedule the ultrasound at a later date. The ultrasound can be done using an instrument inserted through the vagina, or through a noninvasive procedure using a gel on the stomach. This ultrasound will let you know how far along you are and confirm your expected delivery date.
In all cases, the provider also goes over the patient’s family and medical history once more. It’s also an opportunity to address any concerns or answer questions.
“We discuss how to promote a healthy pregnancy and talk about additional screening options. The patient will have an exam and lab work, if it has not been done already,” said Monson. “We often perform an ultrasound at that visit or shortly thereafter to establish or confirm the patient’s due date.”
How often will I come in for appointments after my first visit?
“We normally see you every four to six weeks until your pregnancy reaches 28 weeks, at which point we recommend you come in every two to three weeks,” said Forster Page. “From 36 weeks until the birth, we recommend weekly appointments.”
These guidelines are the same, no matter the type of provider you’re working with. After your first prenatal visit, you can also work with your care team to choose which type of provider you’d like to see going forward. M Health Fairview’s team approach ensures you’ll have access to the level of care you need down the line. If a medical issue happens during your pregnancy or delivery, specialized experts can be called in at any time to assist. To make things even easier for you, our midwives and OB/GYNS collaborate on care so that you can get the right level of support when you need it.
What if I have questions before my first appointment, or any time during my pregnancy?
Please call your clinic and talk to one of our triage nurses. If you have a concern after hours you will either speak with a triage nurse or an on-call provider may be paged with any concerns.