Our first pregnancy appointment was a very exciting but nervous appointment, I had never been to an official OB/GYN as my family doctor had always performed my pap smear tests. So this was new territory for me and my husband. This was also our first pregnancy, so we were definitely fish out of water at this point in our pregnancy. Actually at this point, we were only relying on home pregnancy tests to prove we were pregnant, so any confirmation of pregnancy was to be determined. As I sat waiting for the doctor to call my name, I knew I was going to share my experiences with all of you as it is a bit overwhelming. Hopefully my experiences will help all of you throughout your pregnancy too. So on to my experience in Southern California (LA area), the first appointment from a twin pregnancy perspective (not sure if it is the same for singletons).
Picking an OB/GYN: To put it simply, just go on to your health insurance website and check out all the doctors available. We did this however it was a bit overwhelming as there was not much information available on the doctors. So we went to friends in the area that had already had kids here. This method was actually even more difficult as there are so many different viewpoints on doctors. Finally we went a roundabout way and went to our chosen family doctor and asked for a suggestion that was in his group network. Apparently doctors have groups which follow along the same guidelines and basic principals for conducting medical business. This family doctor suggested the OB/GYN we now are patients of and we could not be more happy. Whatever method you use to go by, just make sure the doctor is board certified, some are not.
First Appointment Paperwork: Okay so now that you have an OB/GYN and are sitting in the office awaiting your name to be called, be prepared for a slew of questions to be asked on paperwork. These questions will inquire of family history of born diseases of your parents, grandparents of not only the mothers’ side but also the fathers. These are supposed to be born diseases, not any that were found later in life. For instance, diabetes, heart disease, cancer, heart defects and so on. Additionally, your insurance card will be photocopied and your drivers’ license. If the booklet of questions got you the first time around, do not worry because you will be asked of all these things again in the appointment.
Measurements: This probably will not come as a surprise to anyone however your height will be asked (or measured) and your blood pressure will be taken. These will be conducted each appointment, even at a perinatologist appointment. Then the staff member will give a cup for a urine sample and you will be ushered off to give your sample. This is completed at each of my appointments, however I have heard not all OB/GYN’s do this every appointment. My perinatologist did not ask for this urine test to be conducted at my first appointment, no mention of it.
Pre-Screening: After my measurements were taken and documented, Genki Husband and I were then directed into a waiting room as our official room was not ready. We were then asked once again of the questions we already answered on paper with a few additional ones. In the state of California, we were told we must sign a paper stating we did not have AIDS/HIV and we had to agree to a screening during the pregnancy. Not sure if this is the case in every state but it is supposed to be a law, no consent to decline forms may be signed and wavered for this one. Apparently if it is declined, once the babies are born the hospital has the right to test the babies before leaving the hospital.
Official Appointment: Finally we were taken into our pregnancy room, a basic doctors’ appointment room with a sink and countertop full of misc supplies for an examination. In contrast though, this room also had the traditional pap smear examination room, stirrups armed and ready. There is also an ultrasound machine that just looks like a small apple computer from the 1980’s with a small wand and a tub of gel. Nothing super imposing however it did make me nervous as to what was going to happen. Now my OB/GYN might be different than yours, but rest assure it should pretty much be mostly the same. The following happened:
- Health questions (again) were asked of our family history and our current health. Third time was the charm as I was not asked again until our perinatologist appointment months later.
- Asked if we had taken a pregnancy test, brand name and when it was conducted. This went along with being asked the date of my last menstrual period and when we believed we had intercourse. We planned on getting pregnant so we had accurate dates to give however it might get a bit more difficult to answer these questions if you are unsure. Do not worry though, these will not matter as much once an ultrasound is done.
- Asked if we had any questions or concerns for the pregnancy (if it was one) and all were answered. Of course, we were so eager to get rolling on the ultrasound we did not have any questions besides the obvious “are we pregnant” and “how many”.
- Ultrasound was conducted by laying on the examination table. Genki Husband and I had previously talked it over and we knew we did not want to have a vaginal ultrasound until the 2nd trimester, so I did not have to change out of my clothes. The doctor actually did not even ask, he did not want to disrupt my cervix with a vaginal ultrasound at this early stage. So basically you asked to unbutton your pants and pull them just on or below your pelvic bone (exposing nothing). You also pull your own shirt up just past your belly button as the baby should still be located in the pelvic bone area in the first trimester. Gel is placed on your belly and a small wand is smoothly moved around the belly. The doctor will look at the screen first as he/she needs to know if you are pregnant. Then once a baby is seen/unseen he/she will turn the screen around to show you the results. In our case our doctor, said “here’s your twins”. A few minutes later and you are finished, photos in hand of your baby/babies.
- Questions after hearing the news of your little bundle of joy are asked for again, just to be sure you have asked everything.
- Payment time will always come at the end. Our OB/GYN has a different policy for payments, no copays upfront if you have insurance but on the 3rd appointment a large sum is asked for to cover all of the appointments in the future. Be sure to double check on the payment process, a large sum can be hard to pay at once if you aren’t prepared for it ahead of time.
- Next appointments will be scheduled.
During our first appointment, we were not asked to take any specific tests however we asked to take the genetics test as the babies were 10 weeks along. This all depends on what you are comfortable with during your pregnancy. We personally chose to go with a genetics test instead of doing any future invasive testing. For this test, we were sent with a genetics test and prescription note from our doctor to a laboratory where a small vile of blood was taken and we were on our way. Nothing hard, unless of course you are not a needle person.
Hopefully this information helps all of you feel more comfortable during your first prenatal appointment. Remember you have some control over the tests and procedures being conducted at all times. There are some tests that need to be taken for hospitals to admit you for the birth of your babies and a few that the state may require. Otherwise you have control over what ultrasounds and other invasive tests are to be conducted. If you do not feel comfortable, switch doctors and find one that understands your needs. You are to be a momma, so enjoy the process as much as possible because it will fly by fast.