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What to Expect At Ante-Natal Appointments

By: Rachel Newcombe - Updated: 22 Jun 2010 | comments*Discuss
Antenatal Care Appointments Doctor Gp

All pregnant women receive antenatal care during pregnancy and they’ll be a number of appointments to attend. Most appointments follow a standard procedure, so here’s a rundown of what you can expect.

How Often Will I Have Appointments?

Guidelines suggest that women pregnant with their first babies should have about 10 antenatal appointments. When you’re pregnant with subsequent babies and you’re in good health, the number of appointments will drop down to about seven. This is because subsequent pregnancies are generally more straightforward, not because you’re being ignored for being pregnant again! If you’ve got any health issues or special circumstances, then this number may of course be different.

Where you’ll go for your appointments varies slightly between different locations, but the common places to go are:

  • Your local hospital.
  • Your GP or doctor’s surgery.
  • At a health centre, with community midwives.
  • At another hospital, which may have extra facilities available.
  • At home, where the doctor or midwife visits you.
  • Partly at your doctors surgery and partly at the hospital. This is called ‘share care.’

What Happens at Appointments?

The first appointment you’ll have is known as your ‘booking in appointment.’ It occurs when you’re about eight to 12 weeks pregnant and may be done either at the hospital or at home. At this appointment you’ll be asked all sorts of questions about your health, any previous pregnancies and your family history. This is so the midwife can get a good picture of your health situation and how things are going.

You might also have to be weighed and give a blood sample, but this does vary between places and not everywhere does this. The midwife may discuss various pregnancy lifestyle issues with you, such as diet and weight gain, smoking and work, and they may provide you with information on this and any other issues you’re concerned about.

At subsequent appointments during your pregnancy, you’ll continue to have your health and general wellbeing checked, as well as that of your growing baby. The types of things that will be done and mentioned include:

  • Having your blood pressure measured.
  • Having your weight checked.
  • Urine tests.
  • Having any swollen legs, face or arms checked.
  • Feeling your stomach.
  • Listening to the heartbeat of your baby.
  • Chatting about your baby’s movements and how often they occur.
  • Discussing how you feel, how the pregnancy is affecting you and how you feel.

Your Notes

At every antenatal appointment, notes will be made about your progress and any issues discussed. The policies at different hospitals/clinics vary, but some may give you your notes to look after at either the beginning or end of your antenatal period. If you’re given them, don’t panic about losing them, as the hospital should keep a copy too. All the findings and notes from your midwife and doctor will be recorded in the notes. They use a whole range of strange abbreviations which may be confusing and hard to understand, but don’t be afraid to ask what they mean.

Antenatal care is all about you, your baby and checking you’re okay and things are progressing well. If you’re unclear about anything at any stage, have any questions or are in need of information or help, don’t be afraid to ask.

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