To book your first obstetrician appointment, it’s usually best to phone the doctor’s rooms. Most obstetricians have email or online enquiry forms but these only allow for a small amount of information. Your obstetrician’s reception staff will know exactly what information they need and will also be trained to identify patients who are high risk. This process is much quicker and more thorough over the phone.
For example, in my practice I see lots of high-risk patients with serious medical problems. I often need to chase up test results or letters from other specialists before meeting you. This is so that I already have all the relevant information to hand when we meet. Then we can spend your first obstetrician appointment properly discussing the plan for your pregnancy, rather than chasing up records. My reception staff are trained to identify patients with special concerns, so we can make the whole process of the first visit run as smoothly as possible.
When should I have my first obstetrician appointment?
This depends a little on your history, but I usually like to meet patients between 8 – 10 weeks of pregnancy.
Patients with pre-existing medical problems or who take regular medications should be seen on the earlier side of that window. The same applies to patients who experienced complications in a previous pregnancy, especially things like pre-eclampsia, a small baby or a premature birth.
We now know there are several conditions that benefit from treatment started early in pregnancy. Unfortunately, a lot of hospitals & obstetricians haven’t caught up with this change and are still seeing patients for the first visit after 14-16 weeks, by which time they’ve missed the boat on some of those interventions.
What should I bring on the day?
Bring a referral from your GP, your Medicare and health fund cards and a copy of your antenatal booking bloods.
If you have copies of any ultrasound scans, test results or specialist letters, bring those too. It’s best to bring everything and let the doctor work out what is relevant.
How long is the first obstetrician appointment?
Different doctors allow different amounts of time. I set aside an hour for first visits.
What will we discuss?
The first thing we’ll do is go through your medical history in detail. I need to know about any medical problems or operations you’ve had, as these can all have an impact on the pregnancy and birth.
We’ll also take a close look at any medications you are taking, to make sure they are appropriate for pregnancy. Don’t forget this includes herbal, complementary and over-the-counter medicines. Just because something is “natural” doesn’t mean it’s perfectly safe. It’s a good idea to write a list of everything you are taking and bring the list to your appointment.
We’ll also talk about any past pregnancies. If you’ve had a previous pregnancy, it gives us some really good clues as to how this pregnancy might progress. The same applies to your family history.
I’ll check your blood pressure and perform an ultrasound scan to confirm your due date. It’s good to come with some fluid in your bladder for the scan, so drink a couple of glasses of water about an hour beforehand.
We’ll discuss your wishes for the pregnancy and birth. I also encourage you to write a list of any questions or concerns, so we can go through these.
This process lets me build up a good picture of your health and what you’d like for your pregnancy. I can then make recommendations based on the latest research and my experience looking after thousands of pregnancies. Together, we’ll come up with a plan for your ongoing care.