True Labor Vs False Labor
Sometimes you may think youre starting labor, but its just a false alarm. You might feel contractions, but your cervix is not dilating or effacing.
False labor can be pretty convincing and its fairly common. A 2017 medical study found that more than 40 percent of pregnant women had false labor when they thought they were in labor.
False labor typically happens pretty close to your due date, at 37 weeks of later. This makes it even more confusing. You may have contractions for up to several hours that happen at regular intervals. False labor contractions are also called Braxton-Hicks contractions.
The difference between false labor and true labor is that false labor contractions wont make your cervix open up. You cant measure down there, but you might be able to tell if you are in false or true labor by checking your symptoms:
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Understand What To Expect
After your first appointment, your prenatal visits include a physical exam and tests specific to your medical condition and stage of pregnancy. As you progress through your pregnancy, your visits may change to monitor specific medical conditions or physical changes affecting you or your baby.
A typical prenatal visit includes:
- Measurement of your weight and blood pressure
- Urine test for signs of complications including gestational diabetes, preeclampsia, and urinary tract infections
- Measurement of your abdomen to chart your babys growth
- Doppler ultrasound to monitor your babys heart rate
Importance Of A Pregnancy Confirmation Appointment
Even if you took a home pregnancy test or you feel confident you are pregnant, it is important to schedule a pregnancy confirmation appointment. There are other health issues that can mimic pregnancy and you should confirm that you are actually pregnant to rule out any other possible causes of a missed menstrual cycle. On top of your own health, it is vital to begin planning for a healthy pregnancy outcome as soon as possible, which begins with a pregnancy confirmation appointment.
While home pregnancy tests are fairly accurate, a doctor can perform a more sensitive blood and urine test to confirm your pregnancy. The urine test is similar to a home test, but it is taken to confirm the compounds in the urine. A blood test is highly accurate and can detect even very low levels of the pregnancy hormone that is released after conception. In addition to the lab tests, an OB/GYN will conduct a pelvic exam, which can also reveal changes that occur with pregnancy.
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What Your Midwife May Ask
Your midwife will ask some questions to help find out what care you need.
They may ask about:
- where you live and who you live with
- the baby’s father
- any other pregnancies or children
- smoking, alcohol and drug use
- your physical and mental health, and any issues or treatment you’ve had
- any health issues in your family
- female genital mutilation
- your job, if you have one
- whether you have people around to help and support you, for example a partner or family members
The first appointment is a chance to tell your midwife if you need help or are worried about anything that might affect your pregnancy. This could include domestic abuse or violence, sexual abuse, or female genital mutilation .
FGM can cause problems during labour and birth. It’s important you tell your midwife or doctor if this has happened to you.
Things To Discuss With Your Gp
- When your baby is due.
- Information that may affect your pregnancy such as your familys health.
- Whether you are likely to have a straightforward pregnancy or whether you have more complex pregnancy needs.
You will also be asked about your familys medical history, which might include factors such as diabetes, blood pressure issues, heart problems or a history of twins.
Aside from medical issues, the doctor may also ask about your circumstances such as:
- whether you might be at risk of violence
- whether you have support from family and friends
- previous miscarriages or abortions and how you are feeling about them.
This is to make sure that all women are offered appropriate information, support and referral.
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When To Call Your Doctor
Its a good idea to get in contract with your care provider once you have a positive pregnancy test. That way, they can book your first prenatal appointment.
Theyll give you the basics of health care during early pregnancy, like stopping alcohol and starting prenatal vitamins. Youll also have the chance to ask any initial questions, like whether its safe to continue working out during the first trimester .
After that, you should feel free to call your doctor with any concernsthats what theyre there for, so dont feel silly for getting your questions answers. And if you have any pain, spotting or bleeding, contact your care provider ASAP.
What Common Prenatal Tests Will I Be Given
During the first visit, your health care provider will perform several tests, including:
- Physical exam: You are weighed and your blood pressure, heart, lungs, and breasts are checked.
- Pelvic exam: During the pelvic exam, a Pap smear is taken to screen for cervical cancer and cultures are taken to detect sexually transmitted diseases . In addition, a bimanual internal exam will be performed to determine the size of your uterus and pelvis. This exam may also pick up on some abnormalities of the cervix, uterus, or ovaries.
Your health care provider may listen for the baby’s heartbeat with a special instrument called a doppler, which uses ultrasound waves . A doppler usually cannot detect a baby’s heartbeat before ten to twelve weeks of pregnancy. The provider may perform an ultrasound during this visit to verify your due date and check the baby’s heartbeat.
Your provider will also order several laboratory tests, including:
The first prenatal visit can be exciting yet stressful. With all the poking and prodding and the uncertainty of test results, it is bound to get any mom-to-be nervous. If you have any questions about these tests or what the test results may mean, talk to your health care provider.
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Regular Tests At Appointments
Visits will be shorter at the monthly check-ins that follow up to week 28. You can expect the following to take place at every appointment:
- Blood pressure reading.
- Measurement of your belly bump to monitor your babys growth.
This is all part of your ongoing assessment, says Dr. Jhaveri. Every one of these tests gives information that can be used to make sure you and your rapidly growing baby are as healthy as possible.
Magical moments start popping up in this stretch, too. Fetal Doppler devices typically start picking up your babys heartbeat around 10 weeks, and will become a regular soundtrack to your prenatal visits.
Whats Usually Done At The First Prenatal Visit
Your first visit may include a full physical exam, including breast and pelvic exams, as well as some routine blood and urine tests. You will spend time talking to us about what to expect during your your first trimester and the rest of your pregnancy. Youll learn about the types of prenatal visits and tests youll have until your baby is born. And there will be plenty of time to go through your list of questions.
We know you’re excited to see your baby as soon as possible. In this first visit, you may be able to listen to your babys heartbeat generally, it can be heard when youre around 10 weeks pregnant.
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Bring Your Partner To Your Prenatal Visit
If you have a partner, ask them to join you for that first prenatal appointment. Its a lot to take in on one visit, says Susan Thorne, department chief of obstetrics and gynaecology and medical director of the Maternal Newborn Program at Queensway Carleton Hospital in Ottawa. Make note of your concerns and be prepared to jot down any relevant informationat your first appointment or keep a running list of questions on your phone.
When Should I See A Specialist For My Pregnancy
Although the majority of pregnant women wait at least eight weeks before making their first consultation with a specialist, it is a good idea to schedule one as soon as possible following a positive pregnancy test so that you may get the most out of your pregnancy.You are also welcome to become a member of our Cloudnine Community in order to participate in discussions and obtain further information about topics such as First Timers, Consultation, and Nutrition.
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Prepare For Your First Prenatal Appointment
Once youve established your healthcare provider of choice and secured an appointment, what should you prepare? Bring a list of any supplements and medications youre taking, including their dosages, recommends Beth Murray-Davis, a registered midwife and an associate professor in the midwifery education program at McMaster University in Hamilton. Find out about your family history if you can. Did your mother or grandmother have any risk factors in pregnancy, such as gestational diabetes and hypertension? Does your partner or his family have a history of any genetic disorders? If youre pregnant with a donated sperm or egg or both, try to gather the donors medical history.
Gather Important Medical Information Before You Go
Before you arrive at your appointment, youll want to educate yourself about your medical history. This medical history is more extensive than ones taken at check-ups, so make sure you have knowledge of the following details.
Your partners medical history will also affect the health of your baby, so he should attend this appointment if possible. If you or your partner were adopted, or if you used a donor egg or sperm, you may have less genetic information available to you, but your doctor will help you interpret the information you do have.
Make sure to include:
- General Medical History: Include any medical problems you have or have had. List types, dates, and treatments if applicable. Your doctor may classify your pregnancy as high-risk if you suffer from health problems including diabetes, cancer, kidney disease, epilepsy, or high blood pressure.
- Family Medical History: Your baby may be at higher risk for certain genetic disorders if they run in your family or your partners family. Ask family members about genetic disorders and birth defect history. Depending on your family medical history, your ethnic background, and other factors, your provider may recommend different screenings or tests. For example, people of Ashkenazi Jewish heritage have an increased risk of Cystic Fibrosis and Tay-Sachs Disease, and people of African descent have an increased risk of sickle cell disease.
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What Happens At The First Prenatal Exam
The first prenatal exam is when your obstetrician or primary care physician will be able to provide a pregnancy test to confirm your pregnancy. However, you may also have a full check-up exam along with other tests such as:
- Bloodwork panels to identify your blood type and your Rhesus factor, and check to see if you are anemic or have any immunity diseases like chickenpox.
- Urine test to check your levels of glucose, protein, and white blood cells.
- Screenings to see if you are a carrier of genetic conditions like Tay-Sachs disease and cystic fibrosis, to name a few.
If you live in Broward or Dade county and do not currently have a primary care physician or an obstetrician but you think you should go to a doctor for pregnancy care, you can schedule an appointment with Dr. Lona Sasser Obstetrics & Gynecology today.
First Trimester: Questions To Ask During Prenatal Appointments
Now that youre pregnant, you probably have a lot of questions. Your first prenatal appointment usually takes place between week 6 and week 8 of pregnancy, which is the perfect time to get them answered. And dont worry if you miss one youll have a prenatal appointment each month up until week 28! Here are a few questions to get your list started:
- How much weight should I gain?
- Are my prescription medications safe for pregnancy?
- Am I at risk for any complications or conditions?
- Which over-the-counter medications are safe?
- Which prenatal vitamin do you recommend?
- Which prenatal screenings do I need?
- Is it safe to exercise?
- What can I do, what should I avoid?
- Can I have sex?
- What should I eat and drink? What should I avoid?
- Which symptoms are normal, which arent? When should I call you?
- How can I relieve my pregnancy symptoms ?
- Can I call you if I have any questions or concerns?
- Who will deliver my baby?
- What are my delivery options?
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Screenings On The Early Schedule
Common tests during pregnancy also include a series of screenings that can provide information on your babys health. These include:
- Noninvasive prenatal testing is typically available after 10 weeks of pregnancy. This blood test screens for genetic conditions such as Down syndrome, Trisomy 13 or Trisomy 18.
- A quad screen is a blood test offered between weeks 15 and 20 to assess potential risks and development complications involving your babys brain, spinal cord and neural tissues.
- A test for gestational diabetes is usually provided around weeks 24 to 28 to see if hormonal changes are pushing up blood sugar levels.
What Happens At My First Medical Visit For Prenatal Care
The first visit is designed to confirm your pregnancy and to determine your general health. In addition, the visit will give your healthcare provider clues to any risk factors that may affect your pregnancy. It will typically be longer than future visits. The purpose of the prenatal visit is to:
- Determine your due date
- Find out your health history
- Explore the medical history of family members
- Determine if you have any pregnancy risk factors based on your age, health and/or personal and family history
You will be asked about previous pregnancies and surgeries, medical conditions and exposure to any contagious diseases. Also, notify your healthcare provider about any medications you have taken or are currently taking.
Do not hesitate to ask your provider any question you may have. Most likely, those are the questions your provider hears most often!
Here are some questions you may want to ask. Print or write them down, add to them and take them to your appointment.
- What is my due date?
- Do I need prenatal vitamins?
- Are the symptoms I’m experiencing normal?
- Is it normal not to experience certain symptoms?
- Is there anything I can take for morning sickness?
- What are the specific recommendations regarding weight gain, exercise, and nutrition?
- What activities, foods, substances should I avoid?
- Can I have sex while I am pregnant?
- For what symptoms should I call you?
- What is the definition of a high-risk pregnancy? Am I considered to be high risk?
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Possible Questions To Ask Your Provider During Your Prenatal Appointment:
- Is there a nurse line that I can call if I have questions?
- If I experience bleeding or cramping, do I call you or your nurse?
- What do you consider an emergency?
- Will I need to change my habits regarding sex, exercise, nutrition?
- When will my next prenatal visit be scheduled?
- What type of testing do you recommend and when are they to be done?
If you have not yet discussed labor and delivery issues with your doctor, this is a good time. This helps reduce the chance of surprises when labor arrives.Some questions to ask include:
- What are your thoughts about natural childbirth?
- What situations would warrant a Cesarean?
- What situations would warrant an episiotomy?
- How long past my expected due date will I be allowed to go before intervening?
- What is your policy on labor induction?
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What Will I Talk About With My Practitioner At Prenatal Care Appointments
A good portion of doctor visits during pregnancy are about advice and support. During each prenatal appointment, your practitioner should:
- Ask how you’re doing physically and emotionally
- Answer all of your questions
- Offer tips on caring for yourself and your baby-to-be
- Give you a heads-up about changes to expect and red flags to look for before your next visit
As for your role in this relationship, you should strive to show up for every prenatal appointment armed with questions and details on any changes in your health. Faced with new information and tests at every visit, many moms-to-be forget what they wanted to ask or share so write down anything you want to tell your doctor or midwife.
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The First Prenatal Doctors Appointment Is Focused On Gathering A Baseline Look At Your Health And Providing An Overview Of The Next Steps In Your Pregnancy
In other practices, you might dive right into the testing portion of the pregnancy. Here are some of tests commonly performed at the first prenatal visit:
- Height and weight measurements. You doctor might use this as a starting point to identify any potential problems down the road.
- Blood pressure reading. This will happen at every prenatal appointment to monitor for preeclampsia.
- Blood tests. Your doctor will order blood tests to determine your blood type and whether you are rh positive or negative. Rh is a protein in the blood. Sometimes, women who are rh negative can have complications during pregnancy. Testing for this helps doctors provide treatment sooner.
- Urine tests. These can be used to detect infection or diseases like diabetes. Throughout pregnancy, your urine will be tested for proteins, since protein in the urine can be a sign of preeclampsia.
- A pelvic exam, PAP smear and STI screening. Undiagnosed STIs can cause complications during pregnancy, so this is routine.
Phew! Thats a lot of testing. There are also some additional parts of the first prenatal visit, such as: