Frequently Asked Questions
I don’t ‘feel’ pregnant? Can I trust the over-the-counter pregnancy tests?
If you’re like many women, you will probably take a few pregnancy tests. You may wonder which brand is the best and whether you should go see your practitioner to get the pregnancy confirmed. Your practitioner will probably tell you to trust the drug store pregnancy test and there is no need to schedule an appointment to confirm the pregnancy (unless you have a history that warrants an early appointment).
Some pregnant women feel many symptoms during the first trimester and this can be a good confirmation that you are pregnant. But some women feel no signs of pregnancy for several weeks. Both scenarios are completely normal. Always call your clinic if in doubt.
Why do I have to wait 8-10 weeks to see my practitioner?
It seems like a long time to wait, especially given the questions you may have. They ask you to wait because the earliest they can see a heartbeat is around 6 ½-7 weeks on an ultrasound, and the heartbeat is one of the ways to confirm a pregnancy. So unless you have a history that warrants an earlier appointment, you will have to wait a few weeks. But this is a great time to register for our Childbirth, Newborn Care, and Breastfeeding class. And there's lots more to explore throughout our site to answer your early questions!
Register for our Childbirth class
What can I expect at my first OB/GYN appointment?
Your first appointment will be with your doctor, midwife or a nurse practitioner and will typically be one hour. They will perform a physical exam, possibly a pap smear and cultures if needed, and a urinalysis.
They will also check your blood pressure, draw your blood (or send you to a lab to have this done), weigh you, confirm your due date, and answer all of your questions. A lot of education about your pregnancy and what to expect at future appointments will be shared. If needed, an ultrasound will take place to confirm your pregnancy as well. Your practitioner will also discuss all of the options for prenatal testing, including the time-frame required if you choose to have testing done.
On average, you can expect to have monthly appointments until you are about 28 weeks pregnant (unless you are expecting multiples or having complications). Then the frequency of your appointments will increase to every two weeks between 30 and 36 weeks for a normal pregnancy. For the last four weeks of your pregnancy, you will usually be seen at least weekly. Plan ahead, you will be amazed how busy these appointments keep you in the last month of your pregnancy.
Can my partner/support person come with me to my OB/GYN appointments?
Yes, your support person is always welcome to come with you. The first appointment is especially important because it is the longest (usually an hour) and your practitioner will take extra time to educate you about the pregnancy and answer any questions you or your partner, may have.
Partners are welcome to come to any and all of your appointments, but that is up to the two of you to decide what works best for your schedules. With the exception of your first visit and your 20-week ultrasound, most of your appointments will be 10-15 minutes long. Keep in mind, many practitioners can run late due to emergencies, so it’s a good idea to call their office an hour prior to your appointment to see if the practitioner is running late and adjust your arrival time accordingly. The general rule is that the later in the day your appointment is, the more likely your practitioner might be running behind.
How do I decide which hospital or practitioner to choose?
Things to consider:
Proximity of the hospital and clinic will be important. You will be visiting the clinic several times a month towards the end of your pregnancy, so take this into consideration when deciding how far you want to travel for your appointments. If you live on the Eastside, some of the most popular places to have a baby are EvergreenHealth in Kirkland, Overlake Hospital in Bellevue, or Swedish Hospital in Issaquah.
Should you choose a male or female OB/GYN? It depends on what makes you the most comfortable. You might feel more comfortable with a female doctor but some of the most compassionate and empathetic doctors can be males, so have an open mind. There can be pros and cons to both and comes down to who is the best fit for you.
Some clinics offer a “meet and greet” appointment – take advantage of this if you can. Often times you will know right up front if the doctor or midwife is a good fit for you. If you decide to change practitioners during your pregnancy, it is better to change sooner than later. Keep in mind, however, if you change to a different doctor within the same clinic, you will likely see your former practitioner for one or two appointments, or even for the delivery, since they all share on-call duties.
When should I tell my family and friends?
Whenever you want to!! There is no rule that says you have to wait until a certain time to tell friends and family you are pregnant. If you are excited and want to share the news right away with your best friend or mom or dad – go for it!
Some people, on the other hand would prefer to wait until they see the practitioner and have the pregnancy confirmed.
When is my due date?
Pregnancies are counted by weeks. An average pregnancy is 40 weeks long from the first day of your last menstrual period to delivery.
When will I start to ‘show’?
This can be different for everyone. Some ladies will start to show towards the end of their first trimester, while others will be well into their second trimester. The recommended weight gain for most women is 25-40 pounds, but the timing of your weight gain will vary. Some women may even lose weight in their first trimester due to nausea and vomiting, while others will be in maternity clothes by the end of their twelfth week. Your practitioner will advise you if they want you to gain more or less weight during your pregnancy.
Should I still exercise?
The answer is probably yes, but check with your practitioner first. Most women feel much better during their pregnancy if they are able to exercise. Top exercises during pregnancy are: walking, elliptical, prenatal yoga/barre, and swimming. This is not a comprehensive list and this will be covered in more detail at your first appointment.
You will be discouraged from doing any exercises that place your abdomen at risk of injury. They will also want you to avoid exercises lying flat on your back after the first trimester. If in doubt about a certain exercise or symptom you are experiencing, don’t hesitate to call your practitioner.
Should I start taking a prenatal vitamin right away?
Ideally, you should be taking a prenatal vitamin prior to conceiving, however, it’s never too late to start! When purchasing vitamins, make sure it says “prenatal vitamin” on the bottle. Prenatal vitamins can be purchased at your local drug store, grocery store, or even Costco.
Alternatively, your doctor or midwife may give you samples of prescription prenatal vitamins at your first appointment. Some insurance companies may cover a prescription prenatal vitamin. Prenatal vitamins come in different sizes and in a chewable form, so try different brands until you find what works best for you. If you are nauseated, try taking your prenatal vitamin with food, or at different times of the day to see how you feel.