Prenatal care is essential to ensure a healthy pregnancy and safe delivery. Here’s what to note before your first OBGYN appointment.
Just found out that your home pregnancy test is positive? Congrats! The next step would be to schedule an appointment with your doctor to confirm the pregnancy, in the form of a blood test which checks hCG levels. Subsequently, book a prenatal visit with an obstetrician-gynaecologist (or OBGYN for short).
Prenatal appointments are important for your doctor to check on you and your baby’s health throughout your pregnancy. Your OBGYN will also go over your medical history, discuss risk factors for pregnancy complications and monitor your baby’s development. You’ll be given the opportunity to ask any burning questions and voice your concerns.
Here’s our complete guide to prenatal checkups, as well as a breakdown of the estimated costs.
When to have your first check-up
Your first prenatal checkup will likely take place between weeks 5 to 8 of your pregnancy, depending on your history of pregnancy complications or your OBGYN’s availability. Most mums will have about 10 prenatal appointments before giving birth.
It's also ideal if your husband can accompany you on these appointments, especially for your very first appointment and first prenatal ultrasound exam.
What to prepare for the first check-up
Already set a date for your first visit? Here is some information you can prepare in advance:
- Key facts about your medical history, including previous major illnesses, surgeries, immunisations and drug allergies. Also, health conditions that run in you or your spouse’s families.
- Your mental health history: History of depression, anxiety disorder or other mental health disorders.
- What medications or health supplements you have been taking, including the dosages.
- Your obstetrical history: Past pregnancies, as well as pregnancy complications, miscarriages and details about previous deliveries.
- Your gynecological history: Details about your menstrual cycle, whether you have problems with PMS or PMDD, prior gynecological surgeries, history of abnormal pap smears or STDs.
- Potential disease exposure: Any contagious diseases you may have been exposed to, especially if you have travelled abroad.
- Any questions you might have about your pregnancy.
Tests during the first prenatal visit
At the first visit, a full physical examination will usually be conducted, including checking your weight and blood pressure. A breast and pelvic exam will also be conducted. If you haven’t done a pap smear within the last few years, you may also undergo one to test for cervical cancer and other sexually transmitted diseases.
Blood tests will also be conducted for the following purposes:
- Identify blood problems like anemia
- Identify your blood group, Rhesus D (RhD) status and red-cell antibodies
- Test for sexually-transmitted infections like syphilis, HIV, and hepatitis B
- Test for immunity to rubella (German measles)
- Screen for genetic conditions such as cystic fibrosis, thalassemia, Tay-Sachs disease, diabetes, and thyroid dysfunction
You will also have a urine test to screen for kidney disease, bladder infection and test your sugar and protein levels (to detect diabetes). Additionally, you’ll get an official countdown to your due date! To obtain an estimated delivery date (EDD), your OBGYN will calculate your pregnancy in terms of weeks, starting from the first day of your last period.
A standard full-term pregnancy usually lasts 40 weeks, though some babies may reach full term at 37 weeks. Some women may also have a 42-week pregnancy.
What do subsequent prenatal visits entail?
Subsequent prenatal visits will usually be scheduled every four weeks during the first trimester.
An ultrasound scan may be scheduled anytime from the 6 to 12 weeks, allowing you to see your little one for the very first time. At around 12 to 14 weeks, you may also be able to hear your baby's heartbeat with a doppler − a small device that bounces sound waves off your baby's heart. At 20 weeks, a scan will be conducted to screen for fetal anomalies and low-lying placenta. And during the third trimester, a growth scan will screen for fetal growth restriction.
Your blood pressure will also be checked at each visit. This must be monitored to ensure you don’t develop pre-eclampsia, also known as pregnancy-induced high blood pressure. Each visit will involve a weight check as well, to gauge the adequacy of maternal nutrition. A urine test will also be conducted to check for the presence of protein (an indicator of pre-eclampsia, kidney problems or urinary tract infection) and sugar which may indicate gestational diabetes.
How much you can expect to pay for prenatal checkups
The amount you will pay varies, depending on whether you chose a government or private hospital and how many check-ups you are required to undergo.
Here’s a general breakdown of how much your first consultation might cost at a government hospital:
From week 13 of your pregnancy, most hospitals also offer pregnancy screening packages. These include monthly check-ups till the final weeks of pregnancy. Here’s a breakdown of the costs:
Source: moneysmart.sg (KKH and government hospitals) and Dollars and Sense (private hospitals)
Under the MediSave Maternity Package, Singaporeans and PRs can use their MediSave for pre-delivery medical expenses. Up to $900 may be used for prenatal consultations, ultrasound scans, tests and medications at both private and public hospitals.
Which hospital to choose for your prenatal checkup
While public hospitals are more affordable, those who prefer shorter waiting times for appointments and the ability to choose their OBGYN can consider private ones like Thomson Medical Centre.
The hospital has specially developed the First Born Incentive (FBI) and Subsequent Born Incentive (SBI) programme to support you in your parenthood journey. Sign up for the maternity membership and enjoy member rates for fetal assessment, ultrasound scans, childbirth education classes and more.
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