Pregnancy – What to Expect During Month 1
The antenatal clinic
This will be your first point of contact with the medical team during Month 1 of pregnancy. The first visit to the antenatal clinic will usually be made shortly after the pregnancy has been confirmed. An appointment will be made by the doctor or health visitor for the expectant mother to visit the clinic, which may be at the health centre, or part of the maternity unit of a hospital. The clinics are usually very busy places with lots of people, and lots of things going on. Many expectant mothers find them bewildering and impersonal at first, but after a few visits they will appreciate the care and knowledge with which they are treated. This is the general procedure in the EU and USA although there are some state to state variations:
First the expectant mother will go to the reception desk to give her name, and be given an appointment card.
Then she will see the midwife who will fill in an antenatal record sheet. She will be asked about:
- the date of the first day of her last period.
- details of previous pregnancies, including any history of miscarriage, abortions or twins.
- any illnesses or complications she may have had, such as diabetes.
- any smoking habits or addiction to drugs or alcohol.
- her social circumstances, such as housing conditions, her job and her partner’s job
At this stage the expectant mother may wish to ask some questions herself, such as:
- What are my chances of having twins?
- What state benefits can I claim?
- When is the baby due? Shall I give up work?
Tests During Month 1 of Pregnancy
The next stage involves various routine tests, which will be done frequently throughout pregnancy:
- The urine is tested for protein (albumen) which could indicate toxaemia; for glucose (sugar) which could indicate diabetes; and for germs and infections.
- The blood is tested. A small amount.is taken and tested to find the expectant mother’s blood group, to detect any signs of anaemia or syphilis, and to test her immunity to rubella.
- The blood pressure is measured so that future comparisons can be made, and so that if the level is high further tests for toxaemia can be made.
- The weight is checked. This will be done regularly to make sure that the expectant mother is not putting on too much weight, or losing weight.
- The height is also recorded.
Medical examination – This will be carried out by the doctor and will involve a general examination and an internal one. The doctor will examine the breasts and nipples, heart and lungs, and ask about the pregnant woman’s general health. The internal examination will involve:
- a cervical smear test (to check for cancer of the cervix).
- checking the size and position of the enlarging uterus.
- checking the pelvis to see it is large enough to allow the passage of a baby.
- making sure there are no ovarian cysts.
All these tests and examinations are essential to see that the expectant mother is strong and healthy and to detect any abnormalities at a very early stage, when something can be done about it.
The prospective mother then has a final interview with the antenatal sister, who will give information about free prescriptions, dental treatment, free milk, iron and vitamin tablets and supplementary benefits. She may also give information about booking a bed for the delivery, and she will make the next appointment for the expectant mother. She will give her information about the antenatal classes that can be attended later in the pregnancy.
Many clinics issue the expectant mother with a co-operation card. This is a record of the pregnancy from the very first visit and contains details of the tests which have been carried out and their results, her height, weight and blood pressure. Any abnormalities or problems are noted down. The expectant mother keeps this card and takes it with her whenever she visits the antenatal clinic, so that, even if she does not see the same medical team every time, there is still a continuous check on her progress.