The Ultimate Guide to Pregnancy on the Eastside!
Newly Pregnant? Congratulations! Now what?
First things first: You will want to call your OB/GYN right away and set up your first prenatal appointment because their schedules book up quickly. (link for finding ob doctor) You might be surprised when they tell you they would like to wait and schedule your appointment between 8-10 weeks of your pregnancy! (To determine this date, they will ask you for your first day of your last menstrual period.) Your first appointment will likely be an hour; although it does depend on which practitioner you are seeing. This is a great appointment for your significant other to attend because it will include a lot of education about the pregnancy, as well as give you both a chance to ask questions.
Here are some of the most commonly asked questions when you are newly pregnant:
I don’t ‘feel’ pregnant? Can I trust the over-the-counter pregnancy tests?
If you’re like many women, you will probably take a few pregnancy tests. You may wonder which brand is the best and whether you should go see your doctor to get the pregnancy confirmed. Your OB/GYN will probably tell you to trust the drug store pregnancy test and that there is no need to come in to confirm the pregnancy (unless you have a history that warrants an early appointment.)
Some pregnant women feel many symptoms during the first trimester and this can be a good confirmation that you are pregnant. See Top Five Symptoms in Pregnancy article. But some women feel no signs of pregnancy for several weeks. Both scenarios can be normal.
Why do I have to wait 8-10 weeks to see my doctor?
I know it seems like a long time to wait, especially given the questions you may have. They ask you to wait because the earliest they can see a heartbeat is around 6 ½-7 weeks on an ultrasound, and the heartbeat is one of the ways they confirm the pregnancy. So, unless you have a history that warrants an earlier appointment, you will have to wait a few weeks. But, this is exactly why we offer our Early Pregnancy classes – to answer all of the questions you might have, prior to seeing your doctor.
What can I expect at my first OB/GYN appointment?
Your first appointment will be with your doctor or a nurse practitioner and will typically be one hour. They will perform a physical exam, possibly a pap smear and cultures if needed, and a urinalysis (they will ask you to pee in a cup at every appointment throughout your pregnancy.) They will also check your blood pressure, draw your blood (or send you to a lab to have this done), weigh you (they will do this at every appointment too) confirm your due date, and answer all of your questions. A lot of education about your pregnancy, and what to expect at future appointments, will take place at this time. If needed, an ultrasound will take place to confirm your pregnancy as well. Your doctor will also discuss all of the options for prenatal testing, including the time-frames required if you choose to have testing done.
On average, you can expect to have monthly appointments until you are about 28 weeks pregnant (unless you are expecting multiples or having complications.) Then, the frequency of your appointments will increase to every two weeks between 30 and 36 weeks for a normal pregnancy. For the last four weeks of your pregnancy, you will usually be seen at least weekly. Plan ahead; you will be amazed how busy these appointments keep you in the last month of your pregnancy.
Can my significant other come with me to my OB/GYN appointments?
Yes, it is a great idea for him to go with you. The first appointment is especially important because it is the longest (usually an hour) and the doctor will take extra time to educate you about the pregnancy and answer any questions you, or your partner, may have. He is always welcome to come to any of your appointments, but that is up to the two of you to decide what works best for your schedules. With the exception of your first visit and your 20-week ultrasound, most of your appointments will be 10-15 minutes long. Keep in mind, many OB/GYN’s can run late due to emergencies, so you are always welcome to call their office an hour prior to your appointment to see if the doctor is running late, and adjust your arrival time accordingly. General rule is that the later in the day your appointment is, the more likely your doctor might be running behind.
How do I decide which hospital or doctor to choose?
See Choosing a Practitioner
Things to consider:
Proximity: You will be visiting your doctor several times a month towards the end of your pregnancy, so take this into consideration when deciding how far you want to travel for your appointments. If you live on the Eastside, EvergreenHealth in Kirkland, Overlake Hospital in Bellevue, or Swedish Hospital in Issaquah are probably the top three choices women consider.
When choosing an OB/GYN, I think ‘friend referrals’ are the best. They have first-hand experience with that doctor. Other referral options could include Yelp.com, Babycenter.com’s chat boards, or you could visit a local moms group, such as MOPS. Clinic websites offer a general description of each doctor but it’s hard to tell from that if they will be a good fit. I think “experience” is a key factor, and just meeting them and seeing if you generally “like them” is also incredibly important.
Should you choose male or female OB/GYN? I honestly don’t think the ‘gender’ is the most important quality when choosing a doctor. Some of the most compassionate and empathetic doctors can be males. So, have an open mind. Having worked with male and female doctors, I think there are pros and cons to both. It comes down to who is the best “fit” for you.
Some clinics offer a “meet and greet” appointment – take advantage of this if you can…often times you will know right up front if the doctor is a good fit for you. If you decide to change doctors during your pregnancy, it is better to change sooner than later. Keep in mind however, that if you change to a different doctor within the same clinic, you will likely see your former doctor for one or two appointments, or for the delivery, since they all share on-call duties with each other and don’t work 24/7.
When should I tell my family and friends?
Whenever you want to!! There is no rule that says you have to wait to tell people you are pregnant. If you are excited and want to share the news right away with your best friend or mom or dad – go for it! (I told my mom the day I found out. It was so fun to have her share in the excitement from the very beginning.) Here is a link for some creative ideas to share the big news: http://www.parenting.com/creative-ways-to-announce-pregnancy. Some people, on the other hand, would prefer to wait until they see the doctor and have the pregnancy confirmed.
That is fine too. My feeling was that even if I were to lose the pregnancy (worst case scenario), I would want the support of family through that experience. So share with whomever, when you are ready!
When is my due date?
Pregnancies are counted by weeks. An average pregnancy is 40 weeks long from the first day of your last menstrual period to delivery. So by the time you take a positive pregnancy test, you are already at least 4 weeks pregnant.
When will I start to ‘show’?
That is a good question. It is different for everyone. Some ladies will start to ‘show’ towards the end of their first trimester, while others will be well into their second trimester. Average weight gain is 25-35 pounds but the timing of your weight gain will vary. Some women may even lose weight in their first trimester due to nausea and vomiting, while others will be in maternity clothes by the end of their twelfth week.
Should I still exercise?
The answer is probably yes, but check with your doctor first. Most women feel much better during their pregnancy if they are able to exercise. Top exercises during pregnancy are: walking, elliptical, prenatal yoga/barre, and swimming. And check out the prenatal classes at the FIT4MOM Studio in Redmond, our newest location for classes! This is not a comprehensive list and your doctor should discuss the options in more detail at your first appointment. Your practitioner will discourage you from doing any exercises that place your abdomen at risk of injury. They will also want you to avoid exercises where you are laying flat on your back after the first trimester. If in doubt about a certain exercise, or symptom you are experiencing, don’t hesitate to call your doctor.
Should I start taking a prenatal vitamin right away?
Ideally, you should be taking a prenatal vitamin prior to conceiving, however, it’s never too late to start! When purchasing vitamins, make sure it says “Prenatal Vitamin” on the bottle. Prenatal vitamins can be purchased at your local drug store, grocery store, or even Costco. Alternatively your doctor may give you samples of prescription prenatal vitamins at your first appointment. Some insurance companies may cover a prescription prenatal vitamin, so check and see if you’ll be reimbursed. Prenatal vitamins come in different sizes, and in chewable form, so don’t be afraid to try different brands until you find what works best for you. If you are nauseated, try taking your prenatal vitamin with food, or at different times of the day to see how you feel.
I hope this has answered some of your questions. Remember, there is always a nurse available at your doctor’s office to call and answer any questions you might have. Lastly, here are a few of my favorite pregnancy-related websites: http://www.thebump.com, http://www.whattoexpect.com, and http://www.babycenter.com (I loved signing up for their weekly emails that corresponded to how far along I was in my pregnancy.)
PLEASE NOTE: None of this should replace the advice from your doctor’s office.