Congratulations on your pregnancy! Around eight weeks or so, your health care provider will want you to go in for your very first prenatal appointment. To help you prepare, here's a little bit of information on what to expect at your first prenatal appointment.
Before you go to your first prenatal visit, write down all the prescription drugs you are taking, any health issues you might have and any problems regarding pregnancy and childbirth in your family’s history. In addition, write down any questions you have so that you can be sure to ask them during your appointment. Don’t feel shy about walking in with a list: we promise that your health care provider is used to this approach.
During your first prenatal visit, you will get a lot of information about your pregnancy. You’ll have an exam to evaluate the health and the size of your birth canal. During this exam, you may choose to have a pap smear and to test for sexually transmitted diseases. Finally, an ultrasound might be done to confirm that your baby is growing and to measure his age. Based upon your last period, the exam and the ultrasound, your doctor or midwife will determine your baby’s due date. Yes, you’ll have an actual date to tell everyone!
Your health care provider will usually order a pregnancy-related blood test. This test will have determine your blood type and red blood cell count. This test also looks for the presence of Hepatitis B, HIV, rubella, syphilis and cystic fibrosis.
The tests consist of two blood tests and one ultrasound. These tests are often called an "integrated screen," since they combine results from first and second trimester screens.
In the first trimester you will have a blood test (done between 10-14 weeks of your pregnancy) and a nuchal translucency ultrasound (NT), performed between 12-14 weeks of your pregnancy. The NT will look at the amount of fluid behind the baby’s neck, which can be highly connected to a risk of Down's Syndrome. The results from these two tests will be combined to give you an initial overall risk of these genetic disorders.
The second blood test, also known as the second trimester screen or AFP-Quad test, is usually done between 15 weeks and 20 weeks of pregnancy. The result of this last test will be incorporated with the results of the initial first trimester screen. The final result will be given in the form of a probability of having one of the genetic disorders. Over 90 percent of babies affected with Down’s Syndrome can be detected this way. The results can be confusing to interpret, so consider talking them over with your health care provider.