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Prenatal appointments at Oula are designed to be a conversation – about you, your health, your pregnancy, your ideas, your plans, and about how our team can ensure that you get the care that you deserve in a way that feels right for you.  Your first prenatal visit is a great jumpstart to your pregnancy journey and we want you to know what to expect at your first appointment.  At Oula, we divide the first prenatal visit into two parts – a virtual visit and an in-person visit.

First Virtual Visit

The virtual visit is focused on determining if Oula is a good fit for you.  We want to make sure that you have a good understanding of what makes Oula special – we build on what you learned on our website, in our patient portal, and at our open house to ensure that you understand what our midwifery led collaborative care model will mean for your pregnancy care and birth.  But most importantly, we talk about you!  We want to get to know you so we spend time in the telehealth visit talking about who you are and what you’re looking for in a prenatal care team. We take an extensive health history to make sure that we understand how your overall health might impact your pregnancy.  Some pregnant people with complex medical histories or high risk pregnancy issues might be best served by a level of care beyond what Oula can provide. It is our goal that we connect you with the kind of provider best suited to care for you in your pregnancy, so we take time in your initial virtual visit to discuss the complex interplay between your overall health and your pregnancy. Because of the personal nature of these conversations, we encourage you to be in a private space for your virtual visit.

Before we conclude our virtual visit, we will do some planning for your in-person visit.  Based on your gestational age at the time of your virtual intake, we’ll make a recommendation for when we’d like to see you in-person.  We’ll talk about labs and testing that we’ll plan for your first in-person visit.  Most importantly, we’ll leave you with some “homework” to head to the Oula portal and do some reading or watch our videos on educational topics like genetic testing.

What happens at your first prenatal appointment

The second half of our “first prenatal visit” takes place in one of our Oula offices.  While many of our patients start their journey with us in early pregnancy, we personalize the in-person visit based on your gestational age.  In all cases, we will start with a conversation about how you’re doing and make time for the questions and concerns that you bring to the visit.  Even if you have a partner or support person with you during your first visit, we will initially bring you into our exam room alone so you and your midwife will have an opportunity to review some elements of your medical and social history in a private space. With your consent, your visitor can then join you for the remainder of your visit.  Common things to expect at your first visit include lab testing with blood and urine samples, and a confirmation that your baby continues to be well.  We check on your baby’s well being by confirming the heartbeat – either with a hand-held listening device called a doppler or with an ultrasound.

What to Wear to your first prenatal appointment

When you come to prenatal visits, it is a good idea to wear clothing that allows us access to your midsection so we can palpate your growing uterus and listen to your baby’s heartbeat.  At many visits, we will also do blood draws for lab testing so it’s a good idea to wear tops with short or loose sleeves so we can access the veins on your arms.  On rare occasions, we may need to do an exam or test that requires you to disrobe.  If this is necessary, we have gowns and drapes available to ensure you stay as comfortable as possible during your visit.

Questions to ask at your first prenatal visit

We love to answer questions about pregnancy, midwifery and collaborative care, hospital birth, and the evidence behind our prenatal care recommendations.  Pregnancy hormones can sometimes make your memory a little fuzzy, so we encourage you to keep a list of questions and write down new ones as they arise.  We’ll make time during your first visit (and every visit!) to answer your questions.  In early pregnancy, we often get questions like: Is (nausea/ fatigue/ dizziness/ suddenly having to pee all the time/ etc) normal?  What’s the evidence behind that screening test or how reliable are the results?  What are my options for tests or ultrasounds, are there any alternatives I should consider? What are the next steps if something comes back abnormal? How is midwifery care different from traditional OB care? How do I know if everything is OK?

Finding the right prenatal care provider is a crucial step in your pregnancy journey.  At Oula, we want you to feel comfortable, cared for, heard, and well educated and we’ll start working toward those goals from our very first interaction with you.  Our midwives will approach you as a whole person, so don’t be surprised if we ask you about your emotional health as well as your physical health. We look forward to getting to know you at your first prenatal visit, and we can’t wait to show you how Oula can walk beside you on your pregnancy journey.

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