What to expect from your first prenatal appointment

I’m not sure how most women feel about the first time they see their doctor after finding out they are pregnant, but I was feeling very nervous. If I haven’t experienced something in my life before, I don’t know what to expect no matter what I read or hear from other people, and I get anxious. So I knew I just needed to prepare what I could prepare for, try take it easy and just experience it, and I knew I’ll be feeling much better afterwards.

My worries pre-appointment

Is there really a baby in there, and what if my body is just playing the fool? They say you need to prepare questions beforehand, I don’t know what questions are appropriate at this stage and what if I forget all my questions? Will there be something horribly wrong with the tiny human growing inside of me? Looking online for help is overwhelming sometimes, especially for first time moms, so that’s not helping.

To be honest, the whole pregnancy freaks me out in a way. A few cells, dividing and growing inside your woman parts, feeding off you and turning into a tiny human. I am totally excited to be a mommy, but it’s just weird thinking about the process.

How I prepared

I was so grateful I had already chosen my Gynae before I started trying to fall pregnant, so I knew I was going to someone I had met before and I knew I liked and trusted. I thought a bit about what was important for me to know and understand at this stage, so I could prepare questions. It also helps talking to female family members, especially your mom and sisters (if they have had babies), to find out their pregnancy history and any challenges they had. This helps your doctor get a good idea of your history, as your story might be similar to theirs. Also, talk to your partner or spouse if you have one, and see if they have any questions because they are just as part of this as you are. You are in this together, and talking about it really helps. Some of my questions included:

  • Who do I contact if I experience problems?
  • What does she constitute as an emergency?
  • What can I take to relieve my pain? (I get severe headaches)
  • I was very interested in midwives in South Africa, so I wanted to know her experience of them, her opinions and whether or not she would recommend me seeing one.
  • What should I be doing, and what should I be avoiding?

There is not much else I desperately needed to know, I knew that she would inform me all I need to know so I don’t need to stress too much about that. Also, this is just the beginning of my pregnancy, I don’t need to stress about things I need to think about much further down the line.

My experience

Well, it was way better than I expected! I felt nervous a few hours before, but once Steve was with me and we went together, my nerves were calmed and I just looked forward to it and the possibility of seeing my baby for the first time.

As I got there, the receptionist kindly asked me to pee in a jar and I need to get used to doing this whenever I come here. I need some practice at this, the jar is small. I’m sure by the end of my pregnancy I’ll be a master at it. And then we waited for a long time, my doctor had to see patients in the maternity ward, the life of a busy obstetrician. Soon, she walked in, appologised and then congratulated us on our pregnancy. She was very excited that I was back so soon after getting my arm implant removed just 3 months ago. I felt so at ease with her.

She got straight into business and asked me to go to the examination room. She examined my chest, and then called Steve in to come have a look at the ultrasound. Because I was still early at 9 weeks, they do an internal scan, or transvaginally, so she explained why and settled Steve’s nerves to make sure he felt okay. There was a towel covering me, so he didn’t have to see anything weird. Very quickly, she showed us my bladder, cervix, and then… a baby!

The tiny human was moving around a lot, and even did a jiggle for us, which was so cute. She found the heartbeat, and it was so amazing to see this tiny heart working so hard already. All looked well. And there was definitely only one in there. I think it was great for Steve to see that there really was a baby in there, so it felt more real. It was just so wonderfully reassuring for me to see that everything looked good so far and there was nothing for me to worry about. Once you’ve reached 9 weeks and there is a healthy heartbeat, the chance of miscarriage drops significantly, and continues to drop each week.

After that, I got dressed and we had a long chat. I told her of my female family member’s history of pregnancy and birth, how I’ve been doing these last few weeks and what multivitamin I was taking. She told me about the rhesus factor, but later we realised we don’t need to worry about that because Steve and I both have negative blood groups, so our baby will be too. Then she told us about the tests that are available to us, especially the many different ways of screening and diagnosing Down’s Syndrome. It’s good to hear what your options are, even if you have strong convictions, so you can make an informed decision. I would never do anything invasive, unless it was absolutely necessary. The baby is safest if left alone in the womb. We also feel that knowing whether our child had Down’s Syndrome wouldn’t change anything, so we didn’t need to go to great lengths to determine this. We opted for the 11-14 week scan and the normal blood tests. The scan is highly recommended as you get a good idea on the growth of the fetus thus far, they check all major organs, especially the functionality of the heart. They will also pick up if there are any major physical abnormalities and screen for chromosomal abnormalities.

After that I got to ask any questions, which she happily answered and made me feel a lot more confident. She also gave us our ultrasound pictures, which is so special, and we made a follow up date at around 16 weeks.

In the end, it was a wonderful experience. I was blessed to have good news of a healthy baby, but I know that doesn’t always happen. I feel reassured that all is well so far, and she also reminded me that it doesn’t matter too much about my family’s history, it has only a small part to play in my pregnancy and birth. I am now just looking forward for my next appointment, and I feel I have less to stress about now, especially since I know what to expect.

I hope that you found this helpful, especially if you are an expecting mom or dad-to-be, or trying to fall pregnant. Not many people share their stories, and I certainly found it helpful to hear other people’s experiences so I could prepare mentally. Or maybe you just know me, was interested and decided to read it. I hope you found this enjoyable. Please let me know if you have any questions or comments, I would love to hear from you!

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