Antenatal care is the care you receive from healthcare professionals during your pregnancy. This care can be provided by a team that can include a doctor, a midwife, and usually with a doctor who specialises in pregnancy and birth (an obstetrician).
What happens at your first antenatal visit?
Your first antenatal visit (or booking visit) should happen when you are at least 10 to 16 weeks pregnant. This may last for up to 2 hours, and could take place either at a hospital or in the community, for example in a clinic at a health centre, in a doctor’s surgery or at home.
The midwife or 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.
It’s important to tell your midwife or doctor 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 are on medications for any other condition or are taking regular over the counter therapies from a pharmacy or other practitioner.
- You or anyone in your family have previously had a baby with an abnormality, such as spina bifida.
- There’s a family history of an inherited disease, such as sickle cell or cystic fibrosis.
Your booking visit is an opportunity to tell your midwife or doctor if you’re in a vulnerable situation or if you need extra support. This could be due to domestic abuse or violence or sexual abuse.
You’ll be offered some tests (to check for anything that may cause problems during pregnancy or after the birth). These tests will be discussed with you and you can choose whether you have them or not. If you haven’t already had a general health check- up, your midwife or doctor might recommend:
- a check to make sure your heart, lungs and blood pressure are okay
- a urine test, to make sure your kidneys are healthy and check for signs of infection
- a blood test, to check for conditions like anaemia, infections such as hepatitis, to see what blood group you are especially if it’s Rh positive or Rh negative
- a Pap smear test
- a breast check
- an ultrasound, to confirm dates of pregnancy and general wellbeing of the fetus.