Maternal Health Care Professional
Information from the Office of Dr. Anthony Sciscione
You should schedule a visit to your physician, midwife, or obstetrician as soon as you believe you might be pregnant. At your first visit, your health care provider will conduct a number of tests, take your individual and familial medical history, and offer you education and support.
This initial visit will include a physical examination to record your height, weight, blood pressure, the condition of your heart, and your general health. Your health care provider will also discuss healthy lifestyle practices that include optimum nutrition, exercise, and the use of prenatal vitamins.
Among the diagnostic tests your doctor will order is a complete blood count. This will check for conditions such as anemia, exposure to infections such as hepatitis B and toxoplasmosis, and the presence of sexually transmitted diseases such as chlamydia. A urine sample will indicate the presence of conditions such as kidney infections. Your physician will also want to verify your level of immunity to chickenpox and rubella. Additionally, knowing your Rh type will enable your doctor to provide the necessary treatment if you are Rh negative and your baby is Rh positive.
In addition, your health care provider will conduct a pelvic examination to check for any abnormalities of the uterus or ovaries, and will take a Pap smear to look for cervical cancer. Depending on your ethnic background, your doctor may also screen for genetic conditions.
While your first visit will probably be the longest, most physicians will want to schedule subsequent appointments about every four weeks during your first trimester. Subsequent visits should be shorter, and may only consist of a discussion of any current health issues and a check of your weight and blood pressure.
Anthony Sciscione, D.O., focuses on maternal and fetal health as head of Delaware Center for Maternal & Fetal Medicine of Christiana Care in Newark, Delaware. He has written and lectured extensively on the topic of prenatal care.