Expecting a baby? Stay healthy while you’re pregnant and learn the 11 crucial pregnancy questions to ask your doctor at your first prenatal visit.
Anxious, excited, overwhelmed… I entered the doctor’s office as a soon-to-be first time mom, overcome with how new everything would be for me.
I figured the basics about pregnancy, but still had many questions. For instance, I’d heard I should avoid certain food, but which ones? How do I know when I’m supposed to go to the hospital? And what are the best ways to avoid the dreaded preterm labor?
Doctors are fantastic at providing an overview of your pregnancy, especially on that first visit. But you’ll also have pregnancy questions to ask your doctor that you’ll—of course!—only remember as you’re driving home.
Don’t let that be you.
Prenatal visits are one of the most important factors in a healthy pregnancy. Your doctor is able to monitor your progress using technology in ways you and I can’t always see or feel. She can catch or prevent symptoms from happening, and gives you a guideline of how to handle your pregnancy.
11 pregnancy questions to ask your doctor
But prenatal visits are also your opportunity to voice your concerns, ask pregnancy questions, and learn. Think of these appointments as your own one-on-one consultation.
You’ll have many questions throughout pregnancy, especially about your own unique needs. But I’ve learned that certain questions are a must, and the sooner the better. Here are a few pregnancy questions to ask your doctor:
1. “What kind of exercise should I be doing?”
Most pregnancies can benefit from exercise. I credit working out with helping my first pregnancy feel as comfortable as possible for most of those months.
But depending on your activity level and your pregnancy needs, you may have a different routine than another mom. A mom who frequents the gym will have a different regimen than the one who hasn’t been too active.
And if you had a twin pregnancy like I did, sometimes exercise isn’t even the best option. Your doctor may prefer you do light activities and focus instead on resting.
2. “How much weight should I gain during pregnancy?”
Weight gain is a huge factor in a healthy pregnancy, and again, your doctor will tailor how much you should gain during this time. Depending on your current weight, she’ll be able to give you a range to aim for, and even break it down by how much to gain by week or trimester.
You may not be able to gain as much weight at the end of your trimester, especially when your belly has no room for comfortable eating and digestion. But if you’re like me, you may have a difficult time gaining weight the first trimester too, especially with morning sickness.
Find out how much weight you should gain so you and your doctor can check your progress during the next several months.
3. “What do you recommend I eat and drink?”
I was surprised by how many restrictions pregnancy places on women. Some seemed obvious, like avoiding raw fish, but others were less so. For instance, I didn’t know about avoiding deli meat unless it was heated, or that Caesar dressing isn’t the best choice because of raw eggs.
And find out which food your doctor recommends you should eat. Depending on your needs, you may have to steer toward certain types of food. For instance, anemia might mean increasing your meat intake, or extra leafy vegetables to ease constipation.
4. “Which vitamins do I need to take?”
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Prenatal vitamins are a must for every pregnancy. You can avoid many complications by taking enough vitamins throughout these next several months. And depending on your pregnancy, your doctor may recommend certain prenatal vitamins or add extra if you need it.
When I had twins, I took an extra amount of vitamin D, calcium, iron and folic acid (to the tune of almost 10 times more the amount in the regular prenatal vitamin).
5. “How often will I visit you during pregnancy? And who do I call if you’re not available?”
Most prenatal visits are once a month, which increase toward the third trimester.
To help you better plan your calendar, find out how often your doctor needs to see you. Then, discuss her policy of who you should call if she’s not available. You’ll want to know who you can expect if she isn’t around, both for regular visits or even the day you give birth as well (you never know!).
6. “What symptoms should I expect? And which abnormal symptoms should I call you about?”
Pregnancy includes a slew of symptoms that vary from mom to mom. Your doctor will be able to give you an overview of symptoms you might see during your pregnancy, especially depending on the stage you’re in.
Then, learn which symptoms might be warning signs of problems. As scary as it is to know these signs, it’s important you’re able to recognize them and give your doctor a call. Many are innocent on their own, but in rare occasions can point to problems your doctor needs to know about.
7. “What complications or sign of preterm labor should I look out for?”
Most pregnancies have little complications to watch out for, but it can help to be aware of any potential ones you might have.
I would avoid researching every complication that probably won’t even happen—this will only worry you more. Instead, ask your doctor if there are any complications, based on your history, that you should be aware of.
Then, ask her what signs of preterm labor you should watch out for. What does she consider an immediate call to the doctor, and which ones can you handle at home?
8. “What is your policy on bed rest?”
I feel more comfortable with a doctor who isn’t shy about writing a note to put you on bed rest. Doctors aren’t out to screw your employer. They’re advocating for your best health, even if that means you leave work earlier than your boss would like.
Unfortunately, not all doctors agree, as I’ve heard from a few friends whose doctors hesitated to listen to their woes. Find out early on what her policy is on bed rest should you ever need it.
9. “Do I have travel restrictions?”
Most pregnant women can still travel up to 36 weeks. But depending on your health and type of pregnancy, find out exactly when your doctor recommends you stay local.
And discuss what she means by “travel.” My doctor discouraged me not to go to a wedding an hour away during the later stages of my twin pregnancy because of the high risks associated with travel.
Your doctor has good reason to limit your travel. For one thing, travel can be stressful to many moms, adding more complications.
And second, babies are viable after a certain point and will be placed in an NICU to better thrive. If you’re across the country and your baby is in the NICU, you won’t be able to take him home until he’s released. This complicates matters in ways I can’t even imagine.
10. “What screenings do I need?”
Your doctor may recommend certain screenings depending on many factors, from age to ethnicity. Find out which screenings are available, which ones she recommends and which you can opt out of.
11. “When labor begins, when should I go to the hospital?”
Despite what we may see on television or the movies, people don’t always rush to the hospital at the first contraction. Depending on many factors such as your health or whether this is your first pregnancy, your doctor will tell you when it’s time to go to the hospital.
Then, find out when you can expect to see her once you’re in the hospital. Again, despite my initial misconception, doctors don’t show up the minute you arrive. In fact, you may labor in the hospital for a while, with nurses calling your doctor for updates.
Not until the last few moments will she arrive and deliver the baby.
These pregnancy questions to ask your doctor are only some of the many tasks you need to do as you prepare for the baby. Need a checklist of all the things to get done before the baby is born? Join my newsletter and download your printable checklist below—at no cost to you:
And take a look at the video below where I run through the items on the to-do list:
No one likes feeling anxious or overwhelmed, especially during a time when we’re supposed to be taking care of ourselves. One of the best things to do to ease your worries is to know the important pregnancy questions to ask your doctor that will make you more informed.
You’ll stop feeling clueless and instead get a better handle on your journey moving forward. You’ll have a plan, or at least guidelines to steer you during pregnancy.
Nine months can seem like a lifetime of waiting for your little one, but now you’ve got the questions–and the answers—to feel better prepared.
Get more tips:
- 11 Pregnancy Secrets You Didn’t Know About
- How to Keep Up at Work During Pregnancy
- Coping with Cholestasis of Pregnancy
- Things Moms Do with the First Baby We Don’t Do with the Second
- How to Prepare and Care for Newborn Twins
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