Pregnancy: First Prenatal Visit

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Pregnancy: First Prenatal Visit

Topic Overview

Your first prenatal visit is likely to be more extensive than later prenatal checks. Your doctor will take your medical history and perform a complete physical examination.

Medical history

Your medical history helps your doctor plan the best possible care for your pregnancy and childbirth. It includes:

  • Your menstrual history, including your age when menstruation started, whether your cycles are regular, and the date of your last menstrual period.
  • Your reproductive history. This includes:
    • Any previous pregnancies, abortions, miscarriages, or stillbirths.
    • Problems with previous pregnancies.
    • Any problems with reproductive organs.
  • Family health conditions, such as heart disease or genetic defects.
  • All serious illnesses, vaccinations, and surgeries you have had.

Physical examination

Your complete physical examination will include:

You may also be screened for:

  • Hepatitis B. If you have a hepatitis B infection, your baby will receive the hepatitis vaccine and hepatitis B immune globulin (HBIG) within 12 hours of birth.
  • Diseases that are passed down through your family (genetic disorders). You may want to have a screening test if you or your partner has a family history of genetic disorders or if certain genetic disorders are more common among people of your racial or ethnic background. Some screenings for genetic disorders include:1
    • Sickle cell disease, which is most common in people of African descent.
    • Tay-Sachs disease, which is most common in people with an Ashkenazi Jewish, Cajun, or French Canadian background.
    • Cystic fibrosis, which is most common in people with a Caucasian, European, or Ashkenazi Jewish background.
  • Sexually transmitted infections (STIS) during pregnancy have been linked to miscarriage, premature birth, low birth weight, and stillbirth. Many doctors routinely test for the sexually transmitted infections gonorrhea and chlamydia. If test results show that you have an STI, your doctor will discuss treatment with you.
  • The sexually transmitted infection syphilis. This blood test is called a venereal disease research laboratory (VDRL) test.
  • The human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). This is done only with your consent or request. Early detection and treatment lowers the chance that the baby will get HIV from the mother. The Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada recommends that all pregnant women be screened for HIV infection to help prevent fetal infection.2

Related Information



  1. American Academy of Pediatrics, American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (2007). Antepartum care. In Guidelines for Perinatal Care, 6th ed., pp. 83–137. Elk Grove Village, IL: American Academy of Pediatrics.
  2. Keenan-Lindsay L, Yudin M (2006). HIV screening in pregnancy. SOGC Clinical Practice Guideline No. 185. Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology Canada, 28(12): 1103–1107.


By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer Sarah Marshall, MD - Family Medicine
Primary Medical Reviewer Brian D. O'Brien, MD - Internal Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Kirtly Jones, MD, MD - Obstetrics and Gynecology
Last Revised January 27, 2011

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