We want to make sure you receive the maternity health care that takes account of all your health needs and preferences
As soon as you know you are pregnant it’s important to get in touch with a midwife or your GP to organise your antenatal care.
Antenatal care is the care you receive from healthcare professionals during your pregnancy, and we are committed to providing you with choice about how you access maternity care, the type of care you receive, where you would like to have your baby and where you receive care once you have had your baby.
Care during your pregnancy
Antenatal care is the care you receive from healthcare professional during your pregnancy. You’ll be offered a series of appointments with a midwife, or sometimes an obstetrician (a doctor who specialises in pregnancy and birth). They’ll check that you and your baby are well, give you useful information about being pregnant, give you information about local antenatal classes, and answer any questions you may have.
It’s important to tell you midwife or doctor if:
- There were any complications or infections in a previous pregnancy or delivery.
- You’re being treated for a chronic disease, such as diabetes or high blood pressure.
- You or anyone in your family have previously had a baby with an abnormality.
- There’s a family history of an inherited disease, such as sickle cell or cystic fibrosis.
Antenatal appointments take place in a variety of places including GP surgeries, Children’s Centres, in hospital and in some cases at home. You’ll need to go to hospital for your ultrasound scans.
If you’re expecting your first child, you’ll have up to ten appointments. If you’ve had a baby before, you’ll have around seven appointments. Under certain circumstances, for example if you develop a medical condition, you may have more appointments.
The first visit/booking appointment
It’s very important to see a midwife or a GP as soon as possible. You should have had your long ‘booking’ appointment ideally by 8 weeks. This will include:
- discussion about your health and any other concerns so that an individual care plan can be developed.
- you will be offered ultrasound scans.
- blood pressure, blood test, urine test and weight check.
- information and discussion on the screening tests available.
An appointment at 16 weeks will include:
- discussion about the results of the screening tests
- blood pressure, urine test
- information and discussion on the routine abnormality scan
Women having their first babies will have an additional appointment at around 25 weeks to have their blood pressure taken, urine tested and to check the growth of the baby.
From around 28 weeks, your antenatal appointments will take place every two or three weeks. If your pregnancy is complicated, you may be seen more often.
Later visits are usually quite short. Your midwife or doctor will:
- Check your urine, blood pressure and sometimes your weight.
- Feel your abdomen to check the baby’s position and growth.
- Listen to your baby’s heartbeat if you want them to.
You can also ask questions or talk about anything that’s worrying you. You will be given information about:
- preparing for labour and birth
- your birth plan
- how to tell if you’re in active labour
- looking after yourself and your new baby
- screening tests for newborn babies
- the ‘baby blues’ and postnatal
- induction of labour if you baby is late