No matter if your pregnancy was well-planned or a happy surprise, a completely new chapter of your life awaits you. This new experience comes with a whole bunch of thoughts and emotions. What will happen now? Even if it is not the first thing we think of during the pregnancy confirmation, the practicalities will follow, alongside some feelings of “what do I need to do now?” - But not to worry! We are here to support you with that.
Step 1: Book an appointment with your midwife or obstetrician
Upon a positive home pregnancy test you should call and schedule your confirmation appointment. You can do this as soon as you discover you are pregnant, as appointments can take a few weeks to book. Approximately 8 weeks after your last menstrual period, you will be scheduled to be seen in your healthcare provider’s office. At this visit you will receive an ultrasound that will confirm a living pregnancy and provide you with a due date. An ultrasound is a noninvasive prenatal test done by a medical professional either vaginally or abdominally with a wand called a transducer.
The ultrasound works by sending high frequency sound waves that produce images of what’s inside of you including your growing baby. These images are typically black and white. Your due date or EDD is calculated based on the first day of your last menstrual cycle if known or based on the size of the fetus at this early ultrasound. Your earliest assigned EDD is the most accurate and will not change. During this visit you will have a chance to review your diet, medications and receive genetic testing options for your pregnancy. If you have not been taking prenatal vitamins and supplementation, this is a good time to begin.
How do I choose who to see for my pregnancy?
In most cases, you will deliver your baby at the hospital or birth center where your healthcare provider has admitting privileges. So keep in mind that when you choose a doctor or midwife, you'll likely be choosing the place where you'll give birth. Many doctors and nurse midwives practice as part of a group. If your provider isn’t available the day you go into labor, you may be delivering with another provider within the same group. How comfortable are you with the other healthcare professionals in the practice? Does the practice include a midwife or doula? Is it possible for you to deliver your baby in a birthing center if you’re working with a midwife? Considering these questions in advance could save you the hassle of changing healthcare providers in the middle of a pregnancy.
It's worth doing some research to make sure the hospital's policies and approach to birth fit your needs.There are many options to choose from when it comes to nurse midwives or obstetricians. It can feel like a challenge to find out which one to choose. However, it’s good to know that it is an entirely free choice and that you have the right to choose a practice that you want. You will visit a midwife or doctor roughly 12 times during your pregnancy. It is further between each visit initially, but at the latter half of your pregnancy, the visits will be more frequent.
Some tips for choosing your healthcare provider: - Get referrals. To get started, ask your primary care doctor or friends for a referral list. Your co-workers, friends, and family members can be a great resource for finding a practice who’s a good fit for you. - Research the obstetrician or nurse midwife’s credentials - Consider the practices’ reputation -Social media and neighborhood apps may also give you some valuable insights into a healthcare provider’s personality, philosophy, and communication style. Keep in mind, though, that online reviews may not always be as reliable as recommendations from people you know and trust. - Consider gender - Research Hospital or birth center’s quality where your healthcare provider has privileges - Evaluate communication style. - Know what your insurance covers-if you have health insurance, your policy documents should identify which OB-GYNs or Nurse midwives in your area participate in your plan. - Is it easier to have a clinic closer to home or to work? Doctors and nurse midwives see patients in hospital-adjacent facilities, clinics, private practices, and group practices. If you plan to drive, how long will the trip take during peak traffic times? Does the facility offer plenty of free parking? If you’ll be using public transportation, is it a complicated or time-consuming route?
Remember that you can always switch if you do not feel safe or content with the one you have chosen. Just call the practice or clinic you wish to switch to, and they will take care of it for you. If you do decide to switch, try and do this before your 3rd trimester as it can take a few weeks to switch to a new healthcare provider. Some practices do not accept new patients in the third trimester.
Step 2: Practical Preparations for the First Visit
Before the first visit to your health care provider, they may ask you to fill out a health declaration form (which may be sent to you or available on the practice’s website). There, you will answer questions regarding your health, earlier pregnancies (including miscarriages and/or termination of pregnancies), current medication, diet and exercise habits, and if you or the child’s other parent has any genetic or inherited diseases that can affect the pregnancy. You also will fill out whether or not you consume tobacco or alcohol.
During the visit your healthcare provider will give you lots of information and recommendations. This includes information about diet, exercise, antenatal testing and pregnancy. You also will receive answers to any questions you may have. Therefore, it can be a good idea if you already have done some research before this visit to ask the most on-point questions and get exactly the information you need. You can write these down and bring them with you, just so you do not forget.
Good subjects to read up on may be: - Antenatal testing - Dietary recommendations during pregnancy
You will also receive the question regarding whether or not you take folic acid or Vitamin B9. All pregnant women are recommended to take this Vitamin - either already when planning to be pregnant or as soon as you find out that you are pregnant. Vitamin D is important to take during pregnancy for all women and birthing people, but especially during the winter months. If you rarely or never eat fish or seafood, you could also take additional Omega-3. Thus, if you have already done all of the above, you can feel safe and sure that you have done everything in your power and are well prepared for the registration visit.
Source: - Kaplan, A. (red.) (2009). Lärobok för barnmorskor. (3., omarb. uppl.) Lund: Studentlitteratur.