Antenatal Care

Antenatal Care

More simply known as pregnancy or maternity care, antenatal care is the care and healthcare help you get from doctors, midwives, and other health professionals during your pregnancy.

It’s best to start getting antenatal care as soon as you are pregnant. You can get appointments with midwives and occasionally obstetricians – doctors who specialise in pregnancy and birth – to help ensure you and your baby stay healthy throughout your pregnancy.

You can do this by contacting a midwife or your GP or by filling out a form online or at your local hospital.

Why Do You Need Antenatal Care?


Antenatal care is given to all people who are pregnant in the UK. It aims to ensure that you and your baby are kept healthy and provide information about what to expect during your pregnancy.

The doctor or midwife looking after you will:

  • Check the health of you and your baby

  • Give you information about pregnancy, as well as advice on how to stay healthy throughout your pregnancy and maternity

  • Discuss your choices regarding your pregnancy, labour, and birth

  • Answer any questions you might have

What Antenatal Care Should You Expect to Receive?


You will be offered the following treatments throughout your pregnancy:

  • Pregnancy ultrasound scans – one at 11 to 14 weeks and another at 18 – 21 weeks

  • Antenatal screening tests to check for certain conditions, such as Down’s Syndrome

  • Blood tests to check for

  • Syphilis

  • HIV

  • Hepatitis B

  • You will also be given screening to check for sickle cell anaemia and Thalassaemia. These conditions affect your blood’s ability to carry oxygen around your body.

You may also be offered antenatal classes, including breastfeeding workshops.

If you are expecting your first baby, you should have up to 10 antenatal appointments. If you have had a baby before, you’ll have around 7 appointments. You may have more appointments if you have or develop a medical condition. 

Your midwife or doctor will give you more information on your schedule and what to expect from your appointments at your first meeting.

Where Will Your Appointments Take Place?


Your appointments can take place at:

  • Home

  • A children’s centre

  • Your GP surgery

  • Hospital

Antenatal appointments should take place somewhere you feel able to discuss sensitive issues, such as mental health problems, addiction, and domestic or sexual abuse.

However, scans will typically have to take place at a hospital.

What to Expect at an Antenatal Appointment


At your first antenatal appointment, your midwife or doctor will let you know what to expect during your pregnancy, including a schedule for all future appointments, tests, and scans. 

After 24 weeks, your appointments will generally be relatively short, lasting only 20 -30 minutes. During your antenatal checks your healthcare professional will:

  • Check your urine and blood pressure

  • Feel your tummy to check the baby’s position

  • Measure your womb (uterus) to check your baby’s growth

  • This is done using a tape measure to measure your bump from the pubic bone to the top of your womb, just below your bottom rib.

  • Listen to your baby’s heartbeat (if you want them to)

During these appointments, you should also be given information on:

  • Preparing for labour and birth

  • How to tell when you’re in active labour

  • Making a birth plan

  • How labour is induced if your baby is overdue

  • Postnatal depression – Feeling depressed after the birth of your child

  • Feeding your baby

  • Vitamin K deficiency in newborn babies

  • Looking after yourself and your new baby

Getting Started With Antenatal Caret


It’s best to get started with antenatal care as soon as you know you are pregnant to ensure you and your baby get the best healthcare possible. You can book an appointment directly with a midwife or make an appointment with your GP. You can do so here anytime if you aren’t yet registered with a GP.

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