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At your initial visit, you will meet your doctor who will be handling your care. She will ask you questions about your past and present health and about medical conditions in your family. You will also have a physical examination and blood and urine tests. Your due date will be estimated based on the date of your last menstrual period (see Take folic acid).
The doctor will take a full medical history to check if there are any health problems, which will help her identify your pregnancy as high or low risk.
If there is a problem, she will explain how this could affect your pregnancy. If you have an existing condition, she'll discuss how your pregnancy may affect your health and if your treatment needs to change. Inform the doctor of any medications you're taking; certain ones, such as some of those for high blood pressure, may need to be changed (see Illnesses and medications).
The doctor will ask about any health problems in your own and your partner's family. This is important because some conditions can be passed on, and testing may be available to identify if your baby is affected. You will also be asked possibly embarrassing, but important, questions about sexually transmitted diseases, past drug use, and terminations. It's important that you reveal your history so that your doctor can identify and prevent potential problems. If your partner is unaware of a past event and you feel sensitive about this, arrange to tell the doctor when he isn't present.
You will have a physical checkup, although the nature of this varies from doctor to doctor. The examination may include a check of your skin, thyroid, heart, lungs, breasts, abdomen, and limbs.
A baseline height and weight measurement will be taken to calculate your body mass index (BMI). A low or high BMI increases your risk of complications and your doctor may monitor your weight gain.
A baseline blood pressure measurement will be taken at your first visit. Blood pressure usually goes down at the start of pregnancy, rises around week 26, and by the 32nd week, returns to its original prepregnancy value. So if your initial blood pressure measurements are in the normal-to-high range, they are likely to rise to above normal during the third trimester and need treatment.
Excerpted from Pregnancy Day by Day.
Copyright © 2008 Dorling Kindersley Limited.
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