What to expect during your first visit to the gynaecologist?
Should you go for a pelvic exam? Or is a simple blood test enough? Read on to make your first prenatal visit a cakewalk
So you are happy and excited. You are also nervous about your first rendezvous with the gynaecologist—will the doctor perform a pelvic exam that you kept reading about while planning the baby? Or there would be some news about 'how complicated your case is'. And certainly, all these thoughts must be eating your head now.
Like any first-time mum, your first prenatal visit will be a memory in itself. To ease down your anxiety, here's some useful information about your first gynaecologist visit during pregnancy.
When should the first visit to the gynaecologist be planned?
The earliest sign of pregnancy for most women is a missed period. However, that's not always a confirmatory sign. In confusion, always bail yourself out by using a pregnancy test kit.
"It is better to visit a gynaecologist as soon as you suspect a pregnancy,” says Dr Kasthuri Sarvotham, gynaecologist, Fernandez Hospitals, Hyderabad. The earlier your visit, the better are the chances of ruling out complications such as ectopic pregnancy in the first stages of gestation."
What will the doctor ask me?
The foremost question will be about pregnancy confirmation using a kit. If you haven't, the gynaecologist will suggest you to go for a blood or urine test to confirm the status. The other important information you will need to provide your gynaecologist with is:
- The first date of your last period. This will help the doctor calculate your due date
- The regularity of your cycles before pregnancy
- How long have you been married
- Details of any contraception you have been using before planning a pregnancy
- Whether the pregnancy is spontaneous or a result of any fertility treatment
A history of illnesses, surgeries or allergies will also be noted down along with details of any significant illness such as diabetes and hypertension in immediate family members. “A family history of congenital abnormalities in babies is also something a gynaecologist needs to be aware about to rule out the possibility of testing for any genetic defects,” informs Dr Sarvotham.
Will I have to undergo a pelvic exam?
Most doctors will conduct a pelvic exam in the first visit, especially if you complain about having pain around the abdomen area. This is done to check for abnormalities of the cervix, vagina, uterus, ovaries or the fallopian tubes.
A pelvic exam may proceed as below:
- The doctor or nurse will make you lie on your back on an examining table with your knees bent and your feet placed on the corners of the table or in supports called stirrups. The upper half of your body will be covered by a sheet.
- First, the gynaecologist will visually inspect your vulva. This is to look for any irritation, redness, sores, swelling or other abnormalities.
- As your uterus and ovaries can't be seen from outside, the doctor will insert two gloved fingers into your vagina, while gently pressing your lower abdomen from outside. The doctor will also determine the size of your uterus and pelvis during this examination.
You might experience some discomfort but there is nothing to worry. All you need to do is sit back and breathe in and out. Relaxing your muscles will make the procedure more comfortable.
What are the other examinations?
If you thought, this was it, hold on. Below is a list that you might be subjected to:
Your first prenatal visit will include a thorough physical exam in which the doctor will check your weight, height, and vital signs such as blood pressure. She may also conduct a breast and abdomen check.
The doctor may order for certain blood tests which may include complete blood count, test for blood type, HIV and thyroid hormones depending on your medical history.
Depending on how far you are in your pregnancy, the doctor may conduct a vaginal ultrasound to have a careful look around the gestational sac and rule out possibilities of fibroids, ovarian cysts or other growths. If you are around seven weeks pregnant, you may even be able to hear the baby's heartbeat.
What do I need to ask my doctor?
By now, you probably must be itching to ask a number of questions. You can tally your list with this:
Food and exercise
Find out about the kind of food you should be eating and the ones you should be avoiding. Your gynaecologist will also advise you on how much weight you should be gaining through your trimesters. Don’t forget to talk to your doctor about a suitable prenatal vitamin. If you have been exercising regularly, find out if it is okay to continue with the same routine.
Work and travel
Discuss about the type of work and the mode of commute you use for work. If it involves long hours or frequent travel, find out if this will have an impact on your pregnancy.
Emotions and symptoms
Since pregnancy is an emotional experience as well, speak about mood swings and cravings with your doctor.
You will certainly have questions regarding sex during pregnancy. Instead of relying on vague advice, clear all your doubts about your course of action with your doctor. It’s best that your partner is around for this, too.
What to expect in future visits
From the first visit, you may require to meet your gynaecologist every four weeks to assess if your baby is developing normally. Don’t forget ask how you can reach out to the doctor in case of emergencies such as bleeding or excessive vomiting.
How to choose the perfect gynaecologist?
Most women shortlist a doctor based on their proximity or recommendations from peers. While those are important considerations, do question if you are at ease in communicating with the doctor during the first visit. Try asking yourself the following:
- Does the doctor genuinely look interested in what you are saying?
- Do you find it easy to ask questions?
- Does he explain things clearly and completely?
- Does the doctor hear you out completely before answering?
- Does the clinic or hospital seem to have a busy yet healthy atmosphere?
If you feel your concerns are not addressed in your subsequent visits, do not hesitate to change your doctor. After all, it is your gynaecologist who will see through your entire journey, so make the most of your first prenatal visit.
If you have any more questions on a pelvic exam and other prenatal tests, ask in the Comment box below. Like us on Facebook and follow us on Google+ and Twitter to stay up-to-date on the latest from theIndusparent.com