Routine Antenatal Care 6-12 Weeks
If you are booked for NHS midwifery care (i.e. you are classed as ‘low risk’) your schedule of antenatal appointments is likely to follow the National Institute for Clinical Excellence (otherwise known as NICE) guidelines. If you have additional medical needs during pregnancy and require consultant care, you may have extra appointments and care than those described below.
If this is the first time you have been pregnant you are known as a “Primigravida” or “Primip”. Mums who have had babies before are often referred to as “multigravida” or “Multips”. Multips who have had a healthy pregnancy and birth previously tend to require fewer antenatal appointment as you will see from the outline appointment schedule shown below. If at any time during the pregnancy a woman needs referral to a consultant or develops complications with her pregnancy, then extra appointments and treatment may be given.
6-8 weeks of pregnancy
Congratulations! At around 6-8 weeks of pregnancy you should have your first pregnancy appointment. Although some women do chose to see their GP first, you do not have to see them and can refer yourself directly for a Midwife ‘booking in’ appointment at your GP surgery.
This initial appointment can be quite a long one – there is a lot of information to share with you and there can be a fair bit of paperwork to complete! It is also your opportunity to ask any questions that you might already have and to get a good idea of what the maternity provision is like in your area. As there is a lot of information to digest and discuss, you may find that you have two early midwife appointments before 12 weeks.
The Midwife will discuss screening available to you, including initial blood tests and scans. Some of these are time sensitive, with a small window of opportunity for them to be performed. If you want to have these early screening tests, the Midwife may ask you which hospital you prefer so that you can be receive further appointments in a timely manner. The Midwife may ask to perform your blood pressure, a urine test and to weigh you and measure your height at this initial appointment too. These form a baseline – so there is a record of what values are “normal” for you. The Midwife will also give you your hand held maternity notes. These carry all information, investigations and results pertaining to your pregnancy. These are for you to carry with you wherever you go during pregnancy so, should the need arise, any care provider can instantly access what has happened during this pregnancy and give you the appropriate care for your needs.
You will also be asked questions about your past medical history, and that of your family. You will be asked about any previous pregnancies and the outcome, your social history and the health and wellbeing of any children that you already have parental responsibility for. The questions can seem quite nosey at times, but the rationale behind them is to ensure that you are given the best care possible. Midwives can also act as “signposts” directing you to or referring you for any additional support that you consent to. This may be the GP, specialist doctors, health visitors, local family support networks, or women’s charities.
By Lorraine Berry, GentleParenting’s Pregnancy and Birth Specialist.