Many women use a home pregnancy test to confirm what they suspect. The next step is to see a medical practitioner for official confirmation, and to check that all is well.
“It’s recommended that the mother be seen as early as six to seven weeks to confirm an intrauterine pregnancy, and assess general health and risk factors that might influence the pregnancy,” says Dr Kalian. “The next crucial visit to the gynaecologist should be at 11 to 14 weeks for first trimester Down syndrome screening, assessment for risk of preterm labour, and high blood pressure that is specific to pregnancy (this is called preeclampsia).”
WHAT TO EXPECT
Any gynaecological problems (including sexually transmitted infections).
Details about any previous pregnancies and births.
Whether you, the baby’s father, or anyone in either family has a chromosomal or genetic disorder, had developmental delays, or was born with a structural birth defect. You’ll be offered various screening tests, including a blood test that’s done at 9 to 13 weeks and, if it’s available, an ultrasound at 11 to 13 weeks.
YOUR MEDICAL PRACTITIONER WILL DO
A physical examination. A pelvic exam if necessary, including a Pap smear (unless you’ve had one recently).
Possibly a culture to check for chlamydia and gonorrhea. A urine sample. Blood tests to identify your blood type, rhesus factor and check for anemia (low iron count), as well as test for HIV, syphilis, hepatitis B and immunity to rubella (German measles) and chicken pox.
WHAT YOU SHOULD ASK YOUR MEDICAL PRACTITIONER
Now is the time to raise any concerns you may have, no matter how trivial they may seem. Ask your doctor about:
Any medications and/or supplements you’ve taken since your last period, and your use of alcohol or drugs.
Any exposure you may have had to potential toxins (bring a list of these, especially if you live near or work around toxic materials).
Where and when you’ll be giving birth.
Your options for giving birth (a “birth plan”).