The Importance of Early Pregnancy Care
Your first trimester matters
by Michele Augur, LM, CPM, MSM
- Early care can help you decide next steps for your pregnancy.
- You can also use it to identify urgent and non-urgent medical needs.
- Getting care early on is a good way to relieve stress and talk with providers about your needs.
Those two lines on a stick can immediately bring up questions and mixed emotions. Whether it’s been planned for ages or is a big surprise, what comes next? You might be considering when to start prenatal care. You may be curious about what happens at the first appointment. Or, you might be wondering what questions to ask!
You may choose to repeat home urine pregnancy tests while the news sinks in. It’s ok if this doesn’t “feel real” yet. However, you can trust the tests tend to be accurate and reliable. You don’t need to wait for an ultrasound before getting care. Starting care right away means you can get support and information when needed. You may also be able to make decisions earlier. It is best to start care in your first trimester if possible. The first trimester is when you’re between 1 and 13 weeks pregnant.
Many medical providers schedule the first prenatal visit to be when you’re over 10 weeks pregnant. Unfortunately, this model of care undervalues the importance of pregnancy care in the early days. This policy may leave you waiting a month or more in order to talk with a provider. Meanwhile, the first trimester can bring a number of questions and symptoms.
Where to start?
A helpful first step is to take some time to research care options in your area and interview providers. Think about the type of experience you want to have during your care. What would feel most safe and supportive to you? Also, consider any values you want reflected by your healthcare provider. Do you want extra time to have all your questions answered? Do you want someone who can provide gender-affirming care?
It’s okay to take time deciding next steps and to ask lots of questions.
Midwives offer unbiased counseling to help you consider your options. This means you can make a decision without feeling pressured in a specific direction. It’s okay to take time deciding next steps and to ask lots of questions. Midwives understand everyone has a right to make decisions about their body and pregnancy.
Benefits of early pregnancy care
Getting started as soon as you know you are pregnant can help you avoid health or safety problems. Some health issues can get worse if we wait to take care of them. Early care can help you find out about medicines you need to start or stop taking. You can also make a plan for lab testing. Getting lab work early can catch conditions that may cause risk to a pregnancy.
The provider at your initial appointment will review your health history and current symptoms. This information helps to identify urgent medical needs. You may need help for infections, substance use, or mental health concerns. With an early care appointment, you can get timely advice or connections with providers who can best meet your needs.
Some information you may want to discuss at your first appointment:
- Help with understanding birth provider types and location options, and which is the best fit for you
- Any medications or supplements you’re taking, and if they’re appropriate for pregnancy
- Any foods or supplements that would be helpful to start for pregnancy support, based on your individual health status
- Any recreational or work activities that might put your pregnancy at risk (due to possible chemical exposures, substance use, or risk of injury)
- Symptoms you’re experiencing, to participate in creating an immediate care plan
- Safety or daily life concerns, to help connect you with resources quickly
- Privacy needs, and how to get respectful care in a safe manner
- Cultural or spiritual values/traditions for pregnancy or birth
With an early care appointment, you can get timely advice or connections with providers who can best meet your needs.
Your first visit
An early care visit may differ from your routine pregnancy care visits. Here are some things you can expect at your very first medical appointment:
- A review of your health history, risk status, and past pregnancy or birth experiences
- An emotional health/stress assessment
- A questionnaire addressing any safety concerns or need for daily life resources
- Help planning for transportation or financial concerns (such as insurance)
- Scheduling your next appointment for lab testing and an in-person visit with a midwife if desired
- Advice for helping your pregnancy symptoms or stress reduction tips
- Education/answering your questions about usual health recommendations for pregnancy
- Help with figuring out an estimated due date
Midwife-led early care
At Quilted Health, an Early Care midwife can help with the initial steps of your pregnancy journey. No matter how far along you are in pregnancy, you can schedule a time to talk. You can make an appointment as soon as you think you are pregnant. If midwives don’t seem like a good fit for your needs, we are happy to give you a list of other providers.
Getting an appointment with a midwife as soon as possible can give you the support you desire. You can schedule a video call or phone appointment. This way, you can access care from home, work, school, or anywhere! A friend or family member can also join in that virtual appointment with you if you want additional support. You can get answers to questions and help with stressors or symptoms in early pregnancy. Having someone to talk with can make all the difference.
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