Your first prenatal visit is likely to be more extensive than later prenatal checks. Your health professional will take your medical history and do a complete physical examination.
Your medical history helps your health professional 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.
- Your general health, including vaccinations, surgeries, and serious illnesses you have had.
- Tobacco or other substance use.
Your complete physical examination will include:
- Weight and blood pressure measurement.
- A pelvic examination.
- A Pap smear (if not done recently).
A urine test can check for:
- Sugar, a sign of gestational diabetes.
- Protein, a sign of pre-eclampsia.
- Bacteria, a sign of urinary tract infection (UTI), which can be present without symptoms. UTI is common during pregnancy and, if untreated, may lead to kidney infection.
Blood testing may include:
- Blood typing (A, B, or O, and Rh factor). If you are Rh-negative and the father is Rh-positive, your fetus may have Rh-positive blood, which can lead to problems with Rh sensitization. For more information, see the topic Rh Sensitization During Pregnancy.
- Complete blood count (CBC), which checks hemoglobin and hematocrit to make sure you don't have iron deficiency anemia.
- Checking for immunity to German measles (rubella).
- Checking for the sexually transmitted infection syphilis. The Public Health Agency of Canada recommends that all pregnant women be screened for syphilis early in pregnancy.footnote 1
- Testing for the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). 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.footnote 2
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 families (genetic disorders). Screening tests for genetic disorders include those for:
- Sexually transmitted infections (STIs). STIs during pregnancy have been linked to miscarriage, premature birth, low birth weight, and stillbirth. Many health professionals routinely test for the sexually transmitted infections gonorrhea and chlamydia. If test results show that you have an STI, your health professional will discuss treatment with you.
- Thyroid disease. Many women have thyroid tests done if they have a personal or family history of thyroid problems.
- Depression. Not treating depression can cause problems during pregnancy and birth. To find out if you are depressed, your health professional will ask you questions about your health and your feelings. For more information, see the topic Depression During Pregnancy.
- Public Health Agency of Canada (2006, updated 2010). Syphilis. In Canadian Guidelines on Sexually Transmitted Infections. Available online: http://www.phac-aspc.gc.ca/std-mts/sti-its/guide-lignesdir-eng.php.
- Keenan-Lindsay L, Yudin MH (2006, reaffirmed 2017). HIV screening in pregnancy. SOGC Clinical Practice Guideline No. 185. Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology Canada, 39(7): e54–e58. DOI: 10.1016/j.jogc.2017.04.009. Accessed October 8, 2018.
Other Works Consulted
- 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.
- U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (2004). Screening for Rh (D) incompatibility. Rockville, MD: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. Available online: http://www.uspreventiveservicestaskforce.org/uspstf/uspsdrhi.htm
- U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (2006). Screening and supplementation for iron deficiency anemia. Available online: http://www.uspreventiveservicestaskforce.org/uspstf/uspsiron.htm.
- U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (2008). Screening for asymptomatic bacteriuria in adults: U.S. Preventive Services Task Force reaffirmation recommendation statement. Rockville, MD: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. Available online: http://www.uspreventiveservicestaskforce.org/uspstf/uspsbact.htm.
- U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (2009). Counseling and interventions to prevent tobacco use and tobacco-caused disease in adults and pregnant women: U.S. Preventive Services Task Force reaffirmation recommendation statement. Rockville, MD: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. Available online: http://www.uspreventiveservicestaskforce.org/uspstf/uspstbac2.htm.
- U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (2009). Screening for hepatitis B virus infection in pregnancy: U.S. Preventive Services Task Force reaffirmation recommendation statement. Annals of Internal Medicine, 150(12): 869–874.
Current as of: February 11, 2020
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review: Sarah Marshall MD - Family Medicine
Brian D. O'Brien MD - Internal Medicine
E. Gregory Thompson MD - Internal Medicine
Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine
Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine
Rebecca Sue Uranga
Current as of: February 11, 2020