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Your antenatal care

Contacting your doctor

When you first learn that you're pregnant, get in touch with the Obstetrician as soon as possible. Although your first antenatal appointment may not be until you are around 12 weeks pregnant, telling a Gp and /midwife promptly will help to make you receive maternity healthcare that takes into account all your health needs and preferences.

You can read all the information on this page, or click on the links below to go straight to the relevant section:

What is antenatal care?

What is antenatal care?

Starting your antenatal care

How many appointments you'll have

Your first vist and booking appointment

Later visit

Checking your baby's development

Your maternity notes

Antenatal care is the care you receive from healthcare professional during your pregnancy ,you will be offered a series of appointments with a midwife, or sometimes with a doctor who specialises in pregnancy and birth (an obstetrician).

They will check that you and your baby are well, give you useful information to help you have a healthy pregnancy (including healthy eating and exercise advice) and answer any question you may have.

Once you book with the hospital at about 20 weeks, You will be offered antenatal classes ,including breastfeeding workshops .You need to book antenatal classes in advance, so ask your midwife when you should book with the hospital.

Starting Antenatal care.

You can book an appointment with your GP or directly with your obstetrician as soon as you know you are pregnant .

Its best to see them as early as possible. If you have special health needs ,your GP or obstetrician may take shared responsibility for your maternity care. This means they will all see you during your pregnancy.

Let your midwife know if you have a disability that means you have special requirements for your antenatal appointment or for labour.

Antenatal Appointments

If you're expecting your first child, you will have up to 10 antenatal appointments. If you have had a baby before, you will have around seven antenatal appointments. Under certain circumstances, for example if you develop a medical condition ,you may have more.

Early in your pregnancy ,your doctor will give you written information about how many appointments you're likely to have and when they'll happen. You should have a chance to discuss the schedule with them.

Your appointments can take place at the doctor's practice .You will usually go to the practice for your scans. Your antenatal appointments shall take place in a setting where you feel able to discuss sensitive issues that may affect you, such as domestic violence .Sexual abuse ,mental illness or drug use.

To give the best pregnancy care ,your doctor will ask you many questions about your health ,your family's health and your preferences. your doctor will do some checks and tests . some of which will be done throughout your pregnancy.The result of these test may affect your choices later in pregnacy,so it's important not to miss them.

Your doctor will also ask about any other social care support you may have or need ,such as support from social workers or family liaison officers

Your first visit

Your first visit with your doctor is the appointment when you tell them that you're pregnant .At this first visit, you will be given information about

  • folic acid and vitamin D supplements
  • Nutrition, diet and food hygiene
  • lifestyle factors that may affect your health or your baby, such as smoking ,recreational drugs and drinking alcohol
  • antenatal screening test
  • They will give you information on keeping healthy, and ask whether you had any previous health or pregnancy issues, such as complications in pregnancy.

    It is important to tell your doctor/midwife if

  • You've had any complications or infections in a previous pregnancy or delivery such as pre-eclampsia or premature birth.
  • 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, such as spina bidida
  • There's a family history of an inherited disease, such as sickle cell or cystic fibrosis
  • An important part of antenatal care is getting information that will help to make informed choices about your pregnancy. your doctor will give you information in writing or some other form that you can easily use and understand .They can provide you with information

    The booking appointment.

    Your next appointment should happen when you are 8-12 weeks pregnant. This is called the booking appointment .

    You'll see a doctor , You may also be offered an ultrasound scan. You will be given information about:

  • how the baby develops during pregnancy.
  • Nutrition and diet
  • general exercise and pelvic floor exercise.
  • Antenatal screening tests
  • Planning your labour and where to have your baby
  • The doctor will ask questions to build up a picture of you and your pregnancy. This is to make sure you're given the support you need, and so that any risks are spotted early.

    You will probably want to ask a lot of questions . It often helps to write down what you want to say in advance its easy to forget once you're there. it's important to find out what you want to know and talk about your own feelings and preferences .

    Several antenatal screening tests are performed on a sample of your blood which is usually taken at your booking appointment. in some cases, the baby's father may be asked to have a blood test to check for inherited condition, such as sickle cell or thalassaemia.

    Questions you might be asked

    The doctor might ask about

  • the date of the first and last day of your periods
  • your health
  • any previous illness and operations
  • any previous pregnancies and miscarriages
  • ethnic origins of you and your partner, to find out whether your baby is at risk of certain inherited conditions, or other relevant factors ,such as whether your family has a history of twins
  • your job or partners job, and ask what kind of accommodation you live in to see whether your circumstances might affect your pregnancy
  • how you're feeling and weather you've been feeling depressed.
  • Your booking an appointment is an opportunity to tell your doctor if you're in avulnerable situation or if you need extra support. This could be domestic abuse or violence, sexual abuse or female genital mutilation

    Later antenatal visit

    From around 24 weeks, your antenatal appointments will usually become more frequent .However, If your pregnancy is uncomplicated and you are in good health, you may not be seen as often as someone who needs to be more closely monitored.

    Later visits are usually quite short. Your doctor will

  • check your urine and blood pressure
  • feel your abdomen(tummy)to check the baby 'position
  • measure your uterus (womb) to check your baby' growth
  • listen to your baby's heartbeat if you want them to
  • You can also ask question or talk about anything that is worrying you. Talking about your feelings is as important as all antenatal test and examination. You should be given information about.

  • your birth plan
  • preparing for labour and birth
  • how to tell you're in active labour
  • induction of labour if your baby is overdue(after your expected date of delivery
  • the baby blues and postnatal depression
  • feeding your baby
  • vitamin K(which is given to prevent bleeding caused by vitamin K deficiency in you baby)
  • looking after yourself and your new baby
  • Checking your baby 'development and wellbeing.

    At each antenatal appointment from 24 weeks of pregnancy, The doctor will check your baby’s growth .

    In the last weeks of pregnancy, you may also be asked to keep track of your baby's movements. If your baby's movements become less frequent ,slow down stop, go to the hospital immediately, You will be offered an ultrasound scan if they have concerns about how your baby is growing and developing .

    Your visits :

    Waiting times at the practice may vary, and having to wait a long time for an appointment can be particularly difficult if you have young children with you. Planning ahead can make your visits easier, so here are some suggestions

  • Write a list of any of questions you want to ask and take it with you.
  • Make sure you get answers to your questions or the opportunity to discuss any worries .
  • If your partner is free, they may be able to go with you . This can make them feel more involved in the pregnancy
  • In some clinics you can buy refreshments. If not take a snack with you if you're likely to get hungry