Think back to any first visit with a new doctor and you will probably remember pages upon pages of questions to answer. Of course, these days you may be filling out such a questionnaire online or on a computer tablet in the office. And when it comes to your first prenatal care appointment, you’re also going to be answering a lot of questions. It’s a necessary evil – your medical history, family history, and social history are invaluable to your OB-GYN and are used in practically every aspect of care for you and your baby.
But you need to remember that YOU should ask questions too! It is easy to forget to bring up a query when you’re trying to recall if your paternal uncle had diabetes or lupus, so write down questions before your appointment as a reminder. Also, when it comes to your obstetrician, there really is no such thing as a dumb question. We’ll cover a few common first pregnancy appointment interrogatives below, and you’ll probably come up with plenty of your own as well.
How Much Weight Will I Gain?
This one is extremely frequent, and there is no universal answer. Any healthy woman will gain weight during her pregnancy, but the exact amount varies on an individual basis. There is also no absolute formula.
However, with proper nutrition and exercise during pregnancy, you can control your extra pregnancy weight to an extent. This will help to keep both you and your baby healthy. In fact, good nutrition during pregnancy and physical activity can aid in preventing serious pregnancy conditions like gestational diabetes and high blood pressure.
Your OB-GYN is quite knowledgeable concerning good prenatal diets, and they will be happy to help you in this regard. Also, they have access to reputable books, websites, and even dieticians to give you further guidance.
Which Medications Can I Take During Pregnancy?
Some patients have the mistaken idea that pregnant women cannot take common medications. While it is true that some drugs are off-limits during pregnancy – mainly because they can harm the fetus or are excreted in your breast milk – there are still many medications that are safe.
This is good news for expectant mothers suffering from backaches, and even the most regular woman in the world can expect to encounter bowel issues during pregnancy. Ask your OB-GYN about medication safety, especially if you have a chronic medical condition. They can provide you with a list of safe over-the-counter meds and will review all of your prescription medications to ensure they don’t pose a risk to your baby. Additionally, your OB-GYN can recommend non-pharmaceutical measures for many common pregnancy ailments, like extra fiber for constipation issues.
What about Genetic Testing?
Genetic testing is never mandatory, but many patients desire genetic screening for certain conditions that appear in their families, such as Down’s syndrome or cystic fibrosis. Many times this screening can be accomplished with a simple blood draw. Other tests require amniocentesis – sampling of the amniotic fluid surrounding your baby. The decision to proceed with genetic testing is a personal choice, but regardless of the results, the answers provided can help you prepare for the future.
Who is a Part of My Prenatal Care Team?
Your OB-GYN should provide you with the names and contact information for the members of your care team including their partners and any nurses or physician’s assistants who may be covering for them. Don’t let this worry you. Even if you do not always see the same individual, your team will share information and thoroughly document your care so that everyone is on the same page.
What’s Next after my First Pregnancy Appointment?
During this first pregnancy appointment, your OB-GYN will likely cover occurrences and possible symptoms you may experience in the coming months – everything from morning sickness to breast sensitivity. If they don’t cover a topic or you have questions, ask! No question is too strange or personal. They have heard it all, and a huge part of any physician’s job is answering questions and educating their patients.
Also, do not panic if you forget to ask a question during your prenatal appointment. You can simply reach out to your obstetrician’s office by phone or email. They will get back to you with an answer or address your concerns as soon as possible.
About the Connecticut OBGYN Practice
Dr. John Garofalo, M.D., is an OBGYN located in Fairfield County, Connecticut, providing care for Norwalk, Darien, New Canaan, Weston, Rowaytan and the surrounding areas. He has more than 20 years of practice and surgical experience covering many facets of obstetrics and gynecology.
Laury Berkwitt, APRN, is a nurse practitioner specializing in women’s health in Fairfield County, Connecticut. Laury has a passion for providing quality women’s healthcare in a safe and comfortable manner by creating a trusting patient-practitioner relationship. She has been in practice for more than 10 years, caring for women of all ages.
For more information on preparing for labor or prenatal care, go to www.garofaloobgyn.com. John Garofalo, M.D., and Laury Berkwitt, APRN, can be reached for personal consultations by calling 203.803.1098.