Perhaps you interviewed a dozen midwives before finding the right one, or maybe your maternity care will continue with the same family doctor you’ve trusted for years. No matter your circumstances, the first prenatal appointment is a big one.
Not only will your prenatal care provider be checking to ensure you and your baby are both on track, but this is also your first opportunity to ask those burning questions you’ve wondered about since first seeing that positive pregnancy test. But, as many of us know, it’s not uncommon for your mind to go completely blank when a provider inevitably asks, “Do you have any questions for me?” at the end of an appointment.
To make sure you get all of the answers you need, spend a little time in the days leading up to your first appointment thinking about whether you have any other questions. “Be sure to write down … any specific questions that are worrisome to you and have them addressed,” suggests Diane Hlavacek, MD, a retired OB-GYN in Scottsdale, Arizona. “This will not only assuage your personal concerns but also begin to create a meaningful and trusted bond with your health care provider.”
Not sure what questions you should ask at your first prenatal appointment? We have you covered with some of the most common (and helpful) questions to ask your provider.
Should I Make Any Changes to My Diet?
You should never feel like you need to restrict your diet—pregnant or not—but this is certainly not the time to try to cut calories. That said, it’s essential to eat a balanced, nutritional diet for your budding bean. If you’re concerned, discussing your regular diet with your provider and getting their advice will help put your mind at ease. It’s especially critical to discuss your eating habits if you have dietary restrictions, are at risk for gestational diabetes, or are having trouble keeping down food due to morning sickness.
Is That Glass of Wine I Drank Before I Knew I Was Pregnant a Big Deal?
This is a common worry because it’s well-known that fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASDs) can have devastating effects on a fetus. However, Dr. Hlavacek offers some reassurance: “Alcohol in the system at or around the time of conception [shouldn’t] cause problems.” Regardless, go ahead and let your provider know about it, and heed Dr. Hlavacek’s advice to stop consuming alcohol as soon as you discover you are expecting.
How Much Weight Should I Gain?
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recommends that expecting parents of average weight gain between 25 and 35 pounds throughout pregnancy. However, your provider can help you fine-tune that number. If you are under or overweight, expecting multiples, or fall under a handful of other factors, you might need to gain less or more than average.
If you are currently undergoing treatment for or in recovery from an eating disorder, it’s important to bring this up at your appointment. You can expect to get weighed at every prenatal visit, and your provider will want to know if this will be triggering for you. Additionally, by disclosing your situation to your OB-GYN, you’re providing them with an essential medical history that will impact how they treat you and your pregnancy.
Can I Continue Working Out?
The answer to this question is most likely “yes,” with a few exceptions. If you participate in high-impact kind of exercise—think horseback riding or contact sports—you’ll need to abstain during your 40-week stint, and a high-risk pregnancy could result in some exercise restrictions as well. Staying active while expecting has myriad benefits, though, so most parents-to-be are encouraged to keep up their workout routines. If, prior to pregnancy, you weren’t very active but suddenly feel compelled to get moving, ask your provider for the best way to safely implement a new routine.
When Should I Start Sleeping On My Side?
“The reason patients are encouraged to sleep on their sides is to displace the weight of the pregnant uterus off of the large vessels returning blood to the heart,” Dr. Hlavacek explains. Usually, your uterus won’t become heavy enough to make this necessary until somewhere around or after the 20-week mark. But as with everything, we recommend getting your provider’s opinion on when to make the move—as well as getting some tips for the transition if side-laying isn’t your preferred position.
Is Sex Still OK?
In the majority of cases, there is no reason to restrict sex during pregnancy, but the best practice is always to ask. If you’re not up for sex much these days, that’s normal, too—and your care provider can ease your worries if you’re feeling off-kilter or concerned. (Good to know: Labidos tend to tend to rev back up—often more intensely than before you conceived—after the first trimester. Due to increased blood flow, orgasms tend to increase in intensity as well.)
Are My Beauty Products Safe?
Some of the most popular beauty products are considered unsafe during pregnancy, like retinol or Botox, and even all-natural products can contain ingredients that are off-limits during pregnancy (for more information, see our Complete Guide to a Pregnancy Safe Beauty Routine). The easiest way to get the a-OK on all your beauty goods is to bring them to the appointment and let your provider read the labels. They can make alternate recommendations for products that are no longer safe.
What Prenatal Vitamin Do You Recommend?
Your health care provider might prescribe a prenatal vitamin with folic acid, or they might suggest an over-the-counter (OTC) variety. Although all prenatal supplements offer a dose of critical vitamins and nutrients, your individual needs might spark a specific recommendation from your midwife or OB. If you’ve already started taking prenatal vitamins or supplements but are having trouble keeping them down, your practitioner can recommend helpful solutions like a pill that is smaller in size, a gummy or liquid version, or even changing the time of day you take it.
Can I Continue to Take My Prescription Medications?
Bring the bottles with you because it’s easiest for your provider to give a definitive “yes” or “no” if they can see exactly what you’re working with. Some medications will be approved, but many others won’t. However, your provider should be able to help you find some viable alternatives to address your needs.
Are Over-The-Counter Medications Safe? In What Dosages?
It seems unfair that pregnancy, a time with ailments aplenty, is also a time in which many of your go-to remedies are off the table. When nonmedicated methods (saline drops and a humidifier for a stuffy nose; rest and ice for a headache) aren’t working, rest assured you don’t have to suffer. Some approved OTC options can provide relief, and your health care team can fill you in on what those are.
Are There Any Pregnancy Symptoms I Should Keep An Eye Out For?
Covering this topic upfront lets you know when to worry and when not to worry (which can free up your time to agonize over more exciting things, like prenatal classes, birth plans, and baby names!). Certain nuisances, such as mild cramping and spotting, might cause you to panic but are generally not a big deal. However, not all pregnancies are created equal, so you need to know if there are any specifics to your situation that you should be aware of.
Does My Family Medical History Show Any Red Flags for Complications?
You should discuss medical concerns, family history, and mental health diagnoses with your OB-GYN. If you have any risk factors that may increase your odds of experiencing postpartum depression or anxiety, for example, it’s wise to bring them up well before your due date so your provider can more closely monitor your well-being after delivery.
What Vaccinations Do You Recommend?
Many practitioners recommend receiving the flu (influenza) and Tdap (tetanus; diphtheria; pertussis, aka whooping cough) vaccine during pregnancy. When appropriate, pregnant people are also offered the COVID-19 vaccination and an RSV vaccine. First-time parents may have many questions about vaccines, so it’s good to have a conversation about why and when they are recommended and how they might benefit you and your baby before the needle is out.
What’s The Best Way To Reach You After Hours?
Health care providers understand that your questions won’t always present themselves during regular business hours, so don’t hesitate to reach out if you have a genuine concern. Once you’ve nailed down the right way to get in touch, save the number in your phone (there’s a chance it’ll be the same number you use during office hours), so it’s ready to go if needed.
If possible, it’s best to go into your first prenatal appointment with a list of questions tailored to you and your needs (again, if you’re unsure where to start, go ahead and use the questions we provided here). Your provider is there to put your mind at ease and keep you and your baby safe throughout your pregnancy, so they will be happy to answer whatever questions you bring them. If, for some reason, your OB-GYN isn’t giving your questions the time and attention they deserve, it’s better to find out at your initial appointment so you have plenty of time to find a new doctor who is a better fit for you.