Once you hit 8 weeks pregnant, everything feels a lot different. I think one of the most exciting moment apart from getting a pregnancy test done and finding out you are pregnant is the 8 weeks pregnant milestone. The reason is simple- it’ll be the first time you’ll go in for an ultrasound at your first prenatal visit and the first time you’ll see your baby.
But more importantly, the moment you hear your baby’s heartbeat is the moment that you realize that there’s something growing inside of you, something magical is happening. You are instantly filled with so much awe and joy. It’s a feel we both had never experienced before.
What does 8 weeks pregnant feel like?
At 8 weeks pregnant, you don’t feel anything different to when you weren’t pregnant. For me, I was a little bloated at the time but never really looked pregnant or looked like I was showing. At 8 weeks pregnant, the baby would at 2cm in diameter, which is super tiny and super cute. It’s hard to tell you are pregnant and you never feel the baby moving because it’s still so small. There’s still a lot that needs to be developed and during the early stages of pregnancy, nothing much is felt.
In saying that, one important step is to visit your OBGYN or GP at 8 weeks. This is important to confirm your pregnancy but also to check up the status of your baby’s health. If you are unaware, the possibility of miscarriages are the highest in the first few weeks of pregnancy up until the end of the first trimester. So it’s important to get a check up completed and speak with a health professional about the best way to maintain a healthy lifestyle and diet.
First First Prenatal Visit Rundown
If you read up online beforehand, you’ll know the standard questions and what to expect on your first prenatal visit. Here’s a brief outline of what to expect:
1. Discussion on your health and personal information:
Once you’ve setup an appointment and come in, the doctor will sit you down and run through a range of questions to keep on their records. They normally will ask you for your last period date, family health (genetic disorders), any health concerns, your blood type, any medication you are currently taking, whether you were using the pill, when your last pap smear test was completed, your age and date of birth, whether it is your first pregnancy and if you’ve had miscarriages or difficulties conceiving.
It’s a good idea to have the information prepared before coming in to ensure that you provide the most accurate information possible. These answers help the doctor determine how far along you are in your pregnancy, your expected delivery date and bring up any red flags or concerns that needs to be carefully reviewed or monitored throughout your pregnancy.
2. Physical Examine:
The next thing the doctor will do is undergo a few physical examinations. The doctor will check your weight, height and blood pressure. This information is recorded. Once this is complete, you’ll be asked to change in a hospital gown and receive a breast examine, stomach examine and a vaginal examine. This is all standard to double check if there are any problems.
3. Blood test and urine test:
Your doctor will also start the process of getting a blood test completed either in-house or a nearby lab. This checks a range of things including your nutrients levels (Vitamin D, iron, calcium, folic acid), your blood count and all the basic diseases and illnesses such as HIV, Hep B,, measles, rubella, chicken pox and syphilis.
The urine test will confirm your pregnancy in a more formal way. It’s important to advise the doctor if you have any diseases or illnesses or if there are any genetic disorders that run in your family.
4. Ultrasound booking:
On your first visit, you’ll also receive a referral or request for an ultrasound. As much as the doctor can physically check the baby’s health, they will also advised you to have an ultrasound done to check for any internal problems that are difficult to detect. Note that depending on where yo undergo your first appointment, the facility to conduct the ultrasound might be done right next door or within the same building. If you are going to a GP however, you’ll be referred to an service.
5. Questions and answers:
Lastly, your doctor will ask you if you have any further concerns or questions you wanted addressed. The appointment generally goes fast and there’s a lot of information being thrown at you. It can get overwhelming and that’s why this is the perfect time to ask any questions or concerns you might have. If you don’t have any, you’ll be advised that you need to have monthly visits to the doctors, and give you a purposed date for your next appointment.
Our Experience: First Prenatal Visit
We ended up going with APROFE, a women’s and children’s health center in Cuenca Ecuador, which was originally recommended to us from our Ecuadorian landlord. Our landlord has had two children both at APROFE without any issues.
She also suggested them because she said that they would most likely have staff members who could speak a little English, which was a bonus for us. We plan to write a more detailed post on our experience being pregnant in Ecuador and some tips and recommendations to get over hurdles like language barriers soon, so stay tune for that on our blog!
For the purpose of this post though, I’ll jump right into our overall experience. We went to our doctor’s appointment at 8 weeks pregnant, on the 18th of February 2016. We read online that this was the standard of when you should go on your first visit because if you go earlier than this, you would not be able to do an ultrasound or the physical exam.
If you choose to go before 8 weeks, all of the time will be spent talking to the doctor in general terms. They may also turn you away and ask you to come back when you are at least 8 weeks pregnant anyway. It’s only advised to go if you’ve had difficulties getting pregnant, have previous miscarriages or are experiencing any form of bleeding that needs to be addressed immediately. Since we didn’t meet any of those requirements, we decided to go at 8 weeks pregnant.
First time parents in Ecuadoran medical center
We were definitely nervous about coming in, having a basic understanding of Spanish and being that this is our first pregnancy, we felt a little out of place. Reading online what to expect helped clear some of the gaps between technical jargon spoken in Spanish and helped calm us down as we knew what to expect.
When we arrived, we were asked to fill out a standard form that asked for our contact details. We made sure to request for a female OBGYN and one that could speak English is possible. We were then asked to go to the cashier’s stand with our receipt to pay for the appointment, which cost $13.00USD.
After this we waited in the seated area to be called. We were then taken in a small room with someone that we initially thought was the doctor, but turned out to be the administrator. She basically went through all our details and confirmed our personal information. We also received a booklet that would be later used in the doctor’s office and filled out for our own records. This was helpful to ensure we maintained our personal information throughout the pregnancy, particularly as we head over to Taiwan for further care.
Once this was completed, we were then asked to go upstairs and wait in the seating area to be called by the nurse assisting the doctor. Our doctor did ended up speaking in Spanish the whole way through but spoke slowly and took her time to explain everything to us. She had a nurse that assisted her throughout the appointment too, which made the process a lot faster.
We felt comfortable with our doctor and the standard of care that APROFE provided. The doctor went through all the standard requirements for the first appointment and since we read up on this beforehand, there were no surprises. The appointment probably took about 1 hour to complete.
Undergoing the physical examine
Because I knew that there was a physical examination, we decided to go in the morning so I could be as fresh and clean as possible. I made sure to shower beforehand to avoid any awkwardness while being examined.
The examination was fairly short and was similar to a pap smear test examination without the smear test being conducted. It did feel a little uncomfortable but honestly, it’s more important to make sure the baby and your health is in good shape.
Addressing vegetarian dietary restrictions
One concern I brought up was the fact that I was a vegetarian. I knew that this wasn’t a major issue but thought to bring it up to ensure that the blood test could examine anything that might be low or under the minimum requirement such as iron and protein. The cost of the blood test was about $118USD.
If we had done this in Australia, it would of been free since we are Australian citizens and there’s a decent public health system but we felt it was important to conduct it now in case there were any problems in the first trimester.
Do I Need Supplements?
I’m personally not a big advocate of supplements or putting anything in my body if it’s not necessary. For example, I had never been on the pill and never planned to. In regards to supplements, I felt that if I required them, I would ask but I never wanted to take all in one supplements throughout my pregnancy if I didn’t need to.
The reason is because when I was doing research online, I had read a lot of women’s experiences having major side effects particularly as they were experiencing morning sickness during week 6 to week 13. I had also read that having high levels of iron and calcium over the recommended amount can led to constipation, headaches and other nasty side effects that don’t just affect you but can also be harmful to the baby.
My approach to supplements was to firstly make sure that I was in control with what I ate on a daily basis. I worked out a pregnancy eating plan to ensure that I was eating enough foods that would be nutritious for the baby throughout my pregnancy, rather than relying on supplements from the get go or forgoing my personal choice of being vegetarian.
During the first appointment, our doctor stressed the importance of folic acid in the first trimester. Folic acid helps the baby’s development and can often be lacked in the mother’s health. It can be easily sourced from orange juice for example but in Ecuador, 100% orange juice can be a little pricey.
She gave me a prescription of folic acid which cost $1.20USD for 100 tablets, taking 1 tablet a day. Our doctor stressed the importance of folic acid during the first trimester and we agreed with her that it would be best to ensure that my levels of folic acid were high. I asked about getting iron supplements as I was concerned looking at but she advised to take the blood test to check the levels first and then proceed with any necessary supplements if required.
Personally, I liked her view on that, instead of just shoving supplements down my throat, she was more thorough and examined what I actually needed before making assumptions of what I was lacking.
Our doctor provided us with a request for an ultrasound to be conducted down stairs in the same building. She also provided the containers for the urine test and a request for a blood test to be completed during the week. Our next appointment with the doctor was after we received the results from both the ultrasound and blood test. The doctor also advised us the importance of monthly check-ups. Since our first appointment was at 8 weeks pregnant, our next one would therefore be at 12 weeks pregnant.
Overall our first prenatal visit went well and much of the information you read online about what to expect in your first prenatal visit is accurate worldwide, as we found out in Ecuador. It’s important to keep in mind that selecting where you have your first prenatal visit is vital and is the first step towards your pregnancy journey. Even at 8 weeks pregnant, we enjoyed the whole process and walked away from our first appointment feeling happy and confident of what’s to come ahead.