Pregnancy: First Prenatal Visit
Your first prenatal visit is likely to be more extensive than later prenatal checks. Your doctor will take your medical history and do a complete physical exam.
Your medical history helps your doctor plan the best possible care for your pregnancy and childbirth. It includes:
- Your menstrual history, including your age when menstruation started, whether your cycles are regular, and the date of your last menstrual period.
- Your reproductive history. This includes:
- Any previous pregnancies, abortions, miscarriages, or stillbirths.
- Problems with previous pregnancies.
- Any problems with reproductive organs.
- Family health conditions, such as heart disease or genetic defects.
- Your general health, including vaccinations, surgeries, and serious illnesses you have had.
- Tobacco or other substance use.
Your complete physical exam will include:
- Weight and blood pressure measurement.
- A pelvic examination.
- A Pap smear (if not done recently).
A urine test can check for:
- Sugar, a sign of gestational diabetes.
- Protein, a sign of preeclampsia.
- Bacteria, a sign of urinary tract infection (UTI), which can be present without symptoms. UTI is common during pregnancy and, if untreated, may lead to kidney infection.
Blood testing may include:
- Blood typing (A, B, or O, and Rh factor). If you are Rh-negative and the father is Rh-positive, your fetus may have Rh-positive blood, which can lead to problems with Rh sensitization. For more information, see the topic Rh Sensitization During Pregnancy.
- Complete blood count (CBC), which checks hemoglobin and hematocrit to make sure you don't have iron deficiency anemia.
- Checking for immunity to German measles (rubella).
- Checking for the sexually transmitted infection syphilis. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommend that all pregnant women be screened for syphilis early in pregnancy.footnote 2, footnote 1
- Testing for the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). Early detection and treatment lowers the chance that the baby will get HIV from the mother. The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force and U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend that all pregnant women be screened for HIV infection to help prevent fetal infection.footnote 3, footnote 4
You may also be screened for:
- Hepatitis B. If you have a hepatitis B infection, your baby will receive the hepatitis vaccine and hepatitis B immune globulin (HBIG) within 12 hours of birth.
- Diseases that are passed down through families (genetic disorders). Screening tests for genetic disorders include those for:
- Sexually transmitted infections (STIs). STIs during pregnancy have been linked to miscarriage, premature birth, low birth weight, and stillbirth. Many doctors routinely test for the sexually transmitted infections gonorrhea and chlamydia. If test results show that you have an STI, your doctor will discuss treatment with you.
- Thyroid disease. Many women have thyroid tests done if they have a personal or family history of thyroid problems.
- Depression. Not treating depression can cause problems during pregnancy and birth. To find out if you are depressed, your health care provider will ask you questions about your health and your feelings. For more information, see the topic Depression During Pregnancy.
- U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (2018). Screening for syphilis infection in pregnant women: U.S. Preventive Services Task Force reaffirmation recommendation statement. JAMA, 320(9): 911–917. DOI: 10.1001/jama.2018.11785. Accessed January 17, 2019.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2015). Sexually transmitted diseases treatment guidelines, 2015. MMWR, 64(RR-03): 1–137. http://www.cdc.gov/std/tg2015. Accessed July 2, 2015. [Erratum in MMWR, 64(33): 924. http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm6433a9.htm?s_cid=mm6433a9_w. Accessed January 25, 2016.]
- American Academy of Pediatrics, American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (2007). Human immunodeficiency virus section of Perinatal infections. In Guidelines for Perinatal Care, 6th ed., pp. 316–320. Elk Grove Village, IL: American Academy of Pediatrics.
- U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (2013). Screening for HIV: U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommendation statement. Available online: http://www.uspreventiveservicestaskforce.org/uspstf/uspshivi.htm.
Current as of: October 6, 2021
Author: Healthwise Staff
Sarah Marshall MD - Family Medicine
E. Gregory Thompson MD - Internal Medicine
Martin J. Gabica MD - Family Medicine
Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine
Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine
Kirtly Jones MD - Obstetrics and Gynecology
Current as of: October 6, 2021