My First Pregnancy Check-up in Singapore: What Can I Expect?
Congratulations, mum-to-be! If you are reading this, then you have probably just found out that you are pregnant.
One of the first things you should do is to schedule an appointment with your chosen obstetrician. Most doctors will schedule a visit in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy, unless you have a medical condition or are having symptoms such as bleeding or severe abdominal pain.
Here is what you and your partner can expect on your first visit.
Revealing Your Due Date
The first thing that most parents-to-be want to know is — when is the baby coming? Your doctor will most likely ask you about the day your last menstrual period (LMP) started so as to determine your due date. Your expected due date is 40 weeks after the first day of your LMP, or roughly 38 weeks from conception.
Don’t be too worried if you have irregular periods or cannot recall your LMP. The most accurate way to date your pregnancy is from the first-trimester ultrasound measurement of your baby’s size.
“Most doctors use ultrasound as a more accurate way of dating because you can [tell] exactly how old the pregnancy is and from there estimate the expected due date,” says Dr Tan Thiam Chye, an obstetrician and gynaecologist.
Your obstetrician might also check the baby’s heartbeat, which can usually be detected by Week 6 with a transvaginal ultrasound scan. Other prenatal physical examinations include routine blood tests to check for your blood type, rhesus factor status and the presence of any infections that could be passed on to your baby.
If you or your partner has a history of diabetes in the family, let the doctor know. They are likely to conduct a glucose challenge test later to determine your risk of developing gestational diabetes, which could affect your pregnancy and baby’s health if not kept under control.
Uncovering Your Medical History
Past gynaecological problems and medical conditions are crucial in every pregnancy. Your doctor will review your medical history, including chronic illnesses and medication used to treat them, any drug allergies you may have, and details of past surgeries and hospitalisation.
Be open with your doctor about your lifestyle habits, such as smoking, drinking and drug use, as these could affect your pregnancy. Rest assured that this information will be kept confidential.
Screening for Genetic and Birth Defects
You may be concerned if you have a family history of babies who were born with a genetic disorder, such as anaemia or Down syndrome.
To assess your baby’s risk of a genetic disease, your doctor will ask if the baby’s father or a family member has a chromosomal or genetic disorder, or developmental delays. Based on your health history and age — at age 35, the chance of having a baby with Down syndrome is about 1 in 300 — your doctor will offer screening tests that could clue you in on your baby’s risk for Down syndrome and some birth defects.
“Generally, the risk of Down syndrome is higher in older pregnant women. While this test is not mandatory, I would strongly advise older mothers to do it because their [baby’s] risk is
higher,” says Dr Tan.