What Happens At The First OB Appointment?
Waiting for your first appointment can be nerve-racking! Sometimes, that appointment doesn't happen until 11 weeks or later! What happens at the first appointment, and what questions should you ask? Does the OB do a pap smear test? What on earth happens at the first appointment?!
(Rather watch a video than read? Watch the YouTube video below!)
I live in Canada, in a province called Ontario, so all of my experiences are from the perspective of someone under the Ontario Health Plan. In Ontario, when you know you're pregnant, you get a choice between an OB or a midwife. In the beginning, I didn't even know if I wanted and OB or a midwife. I have a pretty close relationships with my family doctor, and she recommended a certain OB. When I got home from that appointment, I researched what a midwife was and I realized I would really want one, but I ended up connecting very well with my OB from the first appointment, and decided to stay with her. In the end I had some risk factors in my pregnancy that meant I wouldn't have been able to go the route of a midwife anyway.
LET'S TALK TIMELINES
I made an appointment with my family doctor as soon as I got a positive pregnancy test at 4 weeks and 3 days with my most recent pregnancy, and I saw my doctor 2 days later at 4 weeks and 5 days. At this doctor's appointment, my family doctor spoke to me about some risk factors and recommended some prenatal vitamins. She also provided me with a requisition for a blood test. The blood test would definitely confirm if I was pregnant. With my first child, there were some concerns of an ectopic pregnancy, which is not a viable pregnancy, so at that time, I was recommended to have an ultrasound done, but those concerns weren't an issue for my daughter, so at that appointment, I was not recommended to do an ultrasound.
Even though I saw my family doctor as soon as I knew I was pregnant, and even though my family doctor sent in the recommendation to see the OB as soon as she saw me, I still didn't get to see my OB until I was 10 or 11 weeks pregnant. My OB doesn't actually see patients before 10 weeks pregnant. With this most recent pregnancy, I saw my OB for the first time at 11 weeks and 3 days pregnant. The first time around, this seemed really late - I was almost into my second trimester and I still hadn't seen my OB, but what I'm told is that in Ontario at least, this is actually quite common. Those timelines are likely different with a midwife, but for an OB in Ontario, it is not uncommon for you to go several weeks before seeing your OB.
ADMIN STUFF AND QUICK TRACKS
Once I got to my first appointment, the same thing that typically happens when you go to any healthcare provider happened: I had to go in a little bit early to fill out some paperwork - registration with my OB clinic, and registration papers with the hospital. I was also given some paperwork that described the timeline of pregnancy from start to finish, as well as the tests that are typically recommended within that timeframe.
Also at that time, and at every other appointment, I always booked my next appointment. In the first two trimesters, you go to your OB about once a month. In your third trimester you may start to go to your OB once every other week. At 35 weeks pregnant, I was seeing my OB every week. At the start of every OB appointment they took my blood pressure and they would weigh me.
When I was pregnant with my son, of course my husband was able to come with me to my appointments, which was very helpful because sometimes he would hear or remember things that I wouldn't. My daughter was conceived and born during a global pandemic so for her appointments I had to go by myself.
At my first appointment I had to do a urine test, but it wasn't as glamourous-looking as the take-home kits. I was given a little, tiny strip of paper with a coloured end on it. Once I peed on it, the end changed colour, and I had to go show the receptionist the colour of the strip.
TALK TO THE OB ALREADY!
Okay so after all that, I can finally sit down and talk to my OB. She introduced herself, and she asked me a ton of questions about my family medical history. She asked me if I knew when the first day of my last period was, so that she could determine my due date. She let me know that this due date may change, but everyone uses the sale calculations, so she was able to tell me what she thinks the due date would be.
She went through the pregnancy timeline with me, and she described some of the test and screening that might need to be done, as well as the risks associated with those tests. She recommended foods to avoid and asked me if I'd started taking prenatal vitamins. She asked me if I got my flu shot done, which I had.
At every single appointment, my OB would take out a fetal doppler and she would try to hear the baby's heartbeat. She did let me know that sometimes in the beginning, it is hard to pick up a heartbeat, and that doesn't mean that my pregnancy isn't viable, but luckily we were able to pick it up from the first appointment.
She then asked me if I had any questions, and I did have a lot of them. My OB took the time to calmly and completely answer any question that I had. I've heard some pretty bad stories of people's experiences with their OB but quite frankly, I had a really good relationship with mine. She had a good bedside manner and she never made it feel like I was wasting her time.
There's some literature online that says that your OB performs a pap test, but if you've been up to date with your pap tests, then your OB will likely just go with those current records and not do a new one. And that's about it, that was the whole appointment - in total it was about half an hour long, and each subsequent appointment after that was maybe, 15 minutes long if I didn't have any questions.
Pregnancy can be really overwhelming and there's a lot of information to take in so bring a notebook to write down things that are said, so you don't have to remember it all in the moment.
Little plug here: if you get The Pregnancy Planner, there's actually a spot for medical appointments. The pregnancy planner comes with 16 medical appointment sheets. You can use these to write out your notes, your questions or concerns beforehand.
It's a good idea to think about your questions ahead of time, or as you go through the month. Write them down when you think about them and then when you go to your appointment, you can just got down your list of questions. Keep in mind that all your questions don't have to be physical concerns. Your questions should include any concerns that you have about you mental health or dietary concerns as well.
#2: Keep transparency with your OB.
If you have any traumas or triggers that may come up any time during your pregnancy journey, I recommend that you let your OB know. Your OB can put that information in your file so that anyone who treats you later has that information. Sometimes I can be really scary to share that information, but if you allow them to put that information into your file, it means that every person who looks at your file afterwards will take that into account when dealing with you.
And along those lines of transparency, it's really important to let your OB know if you have any fears or anxieties about being pregnant. Your OB has likely seen everything under the sun, and probably nothing is going to surprise them. I let my OB know that I was kind of terrified of giving birth, and she was really sympathetic to me and encouraging.
And that's really it, that's your first appointment. The first OB appointment can be really information-packed, and really overwhelming, but at the same time it can be really exciting and a wonderful start to your pregnancy journey.
What was your first OB or midwife appointment like?