Antenatal Care During Pregnancy - Direct2Mum

Antenatal Care During Pregnancy

Antenatal Care During Pregnancy
For many people, going to see the doctor after getting a positive home pregnancy test is a bit of an anticlimax; it’s quite likely that the doctor will simply offer to book an appointment with a midwife for you, and politely see you out!

That’s because the majority of antenatal care in the UK is now carried out by dedicated community midwives, rather than GPs. If you have a low risk pregnancy free of complications, there is a good chance that you may well only see midwives throughout your entire pregnancy.

Your booking appointment is your first official pregnancy appointment, and usually happens between eight and twelve weeks. It may be done at the midwife’s clinic, or in your own home, and have pens ready - there will be quite a few forms to fill in!
If you have a low risk pregnancy free of complications, there is a good chance that you may well only see midwives throughout your entire pregnancy.
Your midwife will want to establish a clear picture of you and your partner’s health and your families’ medical histories; for example, she will want to know the date of your last period, and any family history of disease or genetic conditions. She will also talk to you about any past pregnancies, miscarriages or terminations, plus any other physical factors that may affect your pregnancy and birth. They will also want to take some blood for a variety of tests, so be sure that you’ve eaten properly that day and had enough to drink.

Following your booking visit, you will receive an appointment from your local hospital for dating scan, usually for when you are somewhere between 10 and 14 weeks. This is when you can see your baby for the first time, hear the heartbeat, and also confirm your due date.

Some areas will also routinely offer a nuchal translucency test at around 11 to 13 weeks, which screens for Down’s syndrome, though many only offer a 20 week anomaly scan as routine (it may be possible to pay for a private nuchal scan if you so choose). The 20 week scan takes about 20 minutes and will give you a good look at your developing baby, as well as sometimes allowing you to determine the gender - though it can be hard for non-medical professionals to figure it out!

If you're having your first baby, then in all likelihood you will probably get checks at around 16 and 25 weeks, then every three weeks until 34 weeks when they’ll get become frequent. Mothers having subsequent children may find this schedule differs, however, your midwife will be as flexible as possible with you if you would like to see them more often.

Most areas now offer NHS antenatal classes, which help you to prepare for the birth and how to care for your newborn. It’s a good idea to enquire about these early, as places will be limited and many get booked up quickly. Most classes start a couple of months before the due date and will cover exercise and diet, what to expect in labour, information on different types of births and interventions, emotions around birth, breastfeeding and even practical things like how to change a nappy!

You may find that the National Childbirth Trust (NCT) also offers pregnancy classes in your area. The NCT is a charity organisation, aimed at supporting parents, and may run a series of antenatal classes over a few days or evenings aimed at providing your with information about labour and birth. Courses are arranged around due dates with the aim of helping parents to be make friends in their local area, and a charge is normally made for these courses.

Many parents to be are now also turning to alternative birthing methods to support their antenatal care such as the use of Doulas who support women and their families during pregnancy, childbirth and early parenthood. This support is practical and emotional but non-medical in nature.

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