Find out more about the maternity care you may expect and what happens during normal pregnancy sessions.

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How do I schedule my maternity care appointment?

When you find out you are pregnant, it can be both thrilling and a little worrisome, especially if you do not know what the next step is going to be. Contacting the National Health Service (NHS) to register your pregnancy is the first thing you should do. Once your pregnancy is registered, you will be able to start receiving antenatal care, which will be administered by a specific hospital or NHS Trust. You are free to make direct contact with the midwives who work at the local hospital or birth centre of your choosing if this is where you would like to get your prenatal care and give birth. In any other case, you can visit the Children’s Center or your primary care physician.

Your antenatal appointments

Assuming that you are in good health and that your pregnancy is developing as it should, you will have the majority or all of your antenatal appointments with a midwife (or team of midwives). However, depending on where you live, some of your prenatal sessions may be with your general practitioner (GP), and if you are at a higher risk of experiencing issues during your pregnancy, you may be referred to a consultant who specialises in pregnancy and childbirth. The appointments can take place in a variety of settings, such as your family doctor’s office, a children’s centre, or even in the comfort of your own home. You can ask your doctor or midwife about the available possibilities in your area if you have specific preferences on where you would like to be seen during your pregnancy.

What is the total number of prenatal visits I will have?

At the time of your booking session, you will have your own personalised schedule of appointments drawn up. If this is your first child, you should expect to visit your midwife (or team of midwives) approximately ten times during your pregnancy. If you have previously given birth, you should anticipate to visit your midwife only seven times during your pregnancy.

It's a good idea to make a note of your baby’s pattern of movements so that you notice if this changes.

a timetable for examinations and consultations

The following is a schedule of your antenatal appointments and scans broken down by week: 8-12 weeks: prenatal checkup and education of the pregnancy and delivery options

10-14 weeks: dating scan

16 weeks: check-in and evaluation of screening tests as part of normal care

18 to 21 weeks: scan for abnormalities

25 weeks: checkup for first-time mothers as part of the routine.

28 weeks: checkups on a regular basis and anti-D therapy if it’s required

31 weeks: second checkup for first-time mothers as part of their regimen.

36 weeks: standard checkup and information about caring for a newborn and what to expect after the birth of the baby

38 weeks: regular exam as well as information regarding perhaps being late

40 weeks marks the third checkup for first-time mothers as part of their regimen. At 41 weeks, a checkup is performed to see if the baby has been delivered yet. In our guide that covers the pregnancy week by week, you will find more information about the specifics of what will take place at each routine session.

What can you expect during the scheduled appointment?

One of the things that will happen during your booking appointment is that you'll have your blood pressure taken.

In order to arrange your maternity care, your midwife will want to acquire an overview of your health as well as your medical history during the session where you book it. You should expect to be questioned about the following aspects of your health: your physical health, your mental health, any pre-existing medical disorders you have, and any medications you are now taking. your medical history as well as any problems that run in your family that you are aware of that are genetic. the father of the baby’s state of health and past medical history. the ethnicity of both of one’s parents. your existing way of living, which includes your nutrition and your exercise routine. your current job and whether or not you want to continue working while pregnant. how you are feeling physically and mentally at this point in the pregnancy, taking into account how far along you are. any previous pregnancies, deliveries, and medical complications, including loss of a pregnancy. the day that you last had your menstruation. In addition, your midwife will do a number of regular checks, some of which will be repeated at later appointments during your pregnancy. They are going to take your blood pressure reading. take a blood test. test a urine sample. Measure both your height and your weight to determine your body mass index (BMI). The medical team will be able to detect any factors that may raise the risk of difficulties during your pregnancy or birth with the assistance of the information that is acquired at your booking session. This indicates that they are able to offer you the appropriate maternity care and assistance for the entirety of your pregnancy. The date of your most recent menstruation will be used by your midwife in the estimation of your due date, which she will also provide to you. This will be established once you have a dating scan, which will take place between weeks 10 and 14 of your pregnancy.

Making a decision about where to give birth

You will have your first conversation about where you would like to give birth when you go in for your booking appointment. You will have the option of giving birth at home, at a birth centre, or in the labour department of a hospital. Don’t panic if the prospect of thinking about where you will give birth so early on in your pregnancy seems overwhelming to you. You are free to modify your mind at a later time if you come to the conclusion that you would want to give birth somewhere else that caters more closely to your requirements and inclinations. If you haven’t decided where you want to give birth to your child just yet, you can use our where to give birth tool to investigate the many possibilities.

Your postpartum journal entries

Your maternity notes contain information about your health, family history, scans, antenatal appointments and preferences for the birth. They are also known as your handheld notes.

Your maternity notes are a booklet in which your midwife will record information on your health, the medical history of your family, and your wishes for the birthing process. You will be given the booklet at the conclusion of the visit. Within the booklet, you will find your own personalised schedule of antenatal appointments, as well as information regarding who to contact if you have any questions or concerns in the interim between sessions. When you go in for a prenatal checkup or get maternity care at a hospital, records of the health of both you and your baby will be written down in your notes. In addition to bringing the notes with you to every antenatal appointment and visit to the maternity unit, you are also encouraged to carry the booklet with you day-to-day and when you go away on vacation in the event that you require urgent medical attention. This is done in case you experience any complications during your pregnancy and require medical attention. The final section of this piece is a glossary of several abbreviations that may appear in maternity notes.

When will my appointment to make a reservation be, and how much time will it take?

In a perfect world, you should schedule your first appointment for a screening test by the tenth week of your pregnancy. This will give you plenty of time to complete your first ultrasound scan as well as any other screening tests that may be required before the end of the first trimester. Since the danger of having a miscarriage is greatest in the weeks leading up to eight weeks, the appointment will probably not take place any earlier than that. If you haven’t scheduled an appointment with the National Health Service (NHS) until 12 weeks or later, you need to schedule that appointment as soon as possible. Due to the fact that there is a lot of ground to cover on this initial visit, the process could take up to an hour. When you go to register your pregnancy and arrange your appointment, you will be given information on what to anticipate, including whether or not this will be broken up into two shorter sessions and how long each one will be. You may be able to get a dating scan at the same time as your booking appointment if it is taking place at a local hospital. Unless something unexpected happens, this will take place within the next two weeks. During this appointment, you should have the opportunity to schedule a time to meet with your midwife.

How to get ready for your scheduled appointment to book a room

Working out the date of your last period is just one of the ways you can prepare for your booking appointment.

It is a good idea to spend some time before the appointment thinking up any questions you would like to ask your midwife. This is a good idea even if you already have an idea of what your midwife will want to address at this first visit. Put these in writing so that you won’t forget them. In order to better prepare yourself, you should also: Determine when you had your period most recently. Make sure you have all of the pertinent medical information written down, including everything you know about the medical history of your family as well as the specifics of any medications you are now taking. If you have been requested to bring a urine sample with you to your visit, make sure to do so not too long before your appointment. It will be easier for the midwife to take your blood pressure if you wear a blouse that does not have sleeves or is loose fitting. Bring a pen and some paper with you to the appointment so that you may jot down anything that you want to make sure you remember or check after the session. You can consider bringing a buddy or your significant other with you to the appointment. They are able to provide you with support, assist you in taking notes, and recall things on your behalf. Be aware, however, that the midwife will be asking you some intimate questions and may ask the other person to leave the room at various points during the process. She may also suggest that you answer some of the questions alone. Everything you discuss with your midwife will be held in the strictest confidence.

During your booking session, there are a few questions you should ask the midwife.

Your prenatal booking session is the ideal moment to ask any questions that have been plaguing you in the early weeks of your pregnancy or to voice any concerns that you have had. Your midwife is able to provide guidance on a wide range of topics, including which foods to avoid, how to deal with pregnancy-related symptoms, where to locate support services for mental health, and how to quit smoking. You could inquire as to which medications are okay to take while pregnant and which ones are not. What vitamin supplements would be appropriate for me to take? When I’m pregnant, is it OK for me to continue working out? Where can I look for antenatal classes in the neighbourhood? Whom can I talk to about my issues regarding my mental health? In the event that it is not brought up during the appointment, you should also ask your midwife for the following: A maternity exemption certificate, which you can use to receive free dental care and prescription medication from the NHS throughout your pregnancy and the first year of your child’s life. Information regarding the various birthing possibilities available to you; additionally, you may use our tool on where to give birth to locate the environment that is most ideally suited to your needs.

What should expect during the remaining prenatal appointments?

Your midwife or doctor will continue to do a variety of routine checks during the remainder of your pregnancy to ensure that both you and your unborn child are healthy and that your child is developing normally. Your midwife will do the following for you: Listen to your baby’s heartbeat to ensure that it is beating in a regular rhythm and that blood is going to your baby from the placenta. Make sure to get your blood pressure checked so that you can rule out the possibility of getting pre-eclampsia.

If your blood pressure was measured as being high, you might be instructed to proceed to the triage area so that your blood pressure might be monitored for a longer amount of time there. Perform a urine test so that your midwife may identify any symptoms of infection or common pregnancy problems, such as pre-eclampsia and gestational diabetes, that may be present in your body.

Your midwife or doctor will also, beginning with your 28-week appointment, measure the height of your baby bump (also known as the fundal height) to ensure that your baby is developing at the appropriate rate. If your measurements are significantly different from what was anticipated, you may be referred for a growth scan to determine the dimensions of your unborn child as well as the quantity of amniotic fluid that is around your unborn child.

Palpate your belly to determine whether or not your baby is in the head-down position and the degree to which the head of your baby is engaged in your pelvis. Around 37 weeks of pregnancy, if your baby is in the breech position (feet down) or lying sideways (transverse), your midwife will be able to discuss with you the various options available to you, including attempting to turn the baby around, giving birth to your breech baby vaginally or by C-section, and other related topics.

What other assistance may I expect from my midwife?

Because they are knowledgeable in uncomplicated pregnancies and deliveries, midwives provide an excellent first point of contact for queries regarding sporadic symptoms that you are experiencing or anything else that is making you concerned. For instance, your midwife is able to: Walk you through the several alternatives for where you can give birth by discussing the benefits and drawbacks of having a home birth, giving birth at a birth centre, or giving birth on a labour ward. Check to see if your baby is moving normally and give you some advice on how you can keep track of their activity while you’re still pregnant. Talk with your doctor about the findings of any scans or screening tests that you may be given the opportunity to take after you have already completed them. In addition to this, they will administer anti-D injections to you if your blood is negative for RhD. Provide you with dietary and exercise guidance during your pregnancy to assist you in preventing injuries and ensuring that both you and your unborn child receive the necessary nutrients. Provide you with information and guidance regarding pregnancy-related health issues and symptoms, such as back pain, headaches, heartburn, and pelvic pain. Assist you in getting ready for labour by suggesting that you attend antenatal classes, advising you on how to write your birth plan, and informing you of the signals that labour is starting to progress. I’d be happy to answer any concerns you might have regarding caring for a newborn as well as discuss your strategies for feeding your child. Sometimes the discussions that are the most difficult to have are also the ones that are the most vital. You ought to feel as though you can discuss any concerns that you’re experiencing with your midwife when you go in for your checkups. This could involve the following:

Problems with one’s mental health

It’s possible that you’ve heard of postpartum depression, but it’s also typical to have symptoms of anxiety or sadness while you’re pregnant, especially if you’ve had a history of mental illness in your life before to becoming pregnant. You may be able to get the assistance you require by discussing your feelings with your midwife.

Abuse in the home and violence of a sexual nature

Domestic violence affects the lives of one in four women at some point during their lifetime, and the risk is even greater for pregnant women. If this is something that is happening to you, the first thing you should realise is that you are not alone in experiencing this. Your midwife will be able to provide you with referrals to specialised services and make safety recommendations for you.

Use of tobacco, alcohol, and illegal drugs

Even though you probably already know that smoking, drinking alcohol, or taking drugs while pregnant can have a bad effect on your unborn child, the fact that you are aware of this fact does not necessarily make it any easier for you to quit doing these things. By having a conversation with your midwife, you will be able to receive referrals to resources that will assist you in giving up smoking and planning for the delivery of your child in a healthy environment. Midwives are available to provide emotional and practical assistance to expectant mothers and to ensure that they and their babies have the greatest possible start in life. Your midwife will do all in their power to assist you or will provide you with a referral to someone who is in a better position to do so.

Learn how to make the most of your visits to the midwife with these helpful tips.

There's lots you can do to get the most out of your midwife appointment, including writing down a list of questions you may have about your pregnancy and birth.

Make a note of the questions that you want to ask in advance and write them down. Take careful notes of everything that your midwife tells you. If there is something you are unsure of, don’t be afraid to ask for clarification. If your midwife is unable to assist you with a particular issue, you should inquire as to whom you should speak with instead. Make sure you ask your midwife if she is familiar with any local programmes and support groups, such as those for breastfeeding. Inquire as to whether further information is available in the shape of pamphlets or websites. If you would like someone there for support, feel free to bring your birth partner or another member of your family or a close friend with you. This check list is also available for download, so you may keep it on your mobile device at all times. Always keep in mind that there are no such things as foolish inquiries. Your midwife has probably encountered everything before, therefore she would prefer it if you asked an excessive amount of questions rather than an insufficient amount of them.

Would it be possible for me to take time off from work for my prenatal appointments?

If you are pregnant, you have the legal right to have paid time off from work in order to attend any prenatal appointments that are recommended by your midwife or doctor. Additionally, you ought to be compensated for the time spent travelling. Your partner has the legal right to take time off of work without compensation in order to accompany you to the two appointments that you have scheduled, however some companies might agree to pay for the time off.

How can I obtain help between appointments?

Your doctor or midwife will put down the contact information for your midwifery team as well as triage at your local hospital at the beginning of your maternity notes. This ensures that you will always have a method to receive guidance if you find yourself in need of it. If you have any concerns, it is always best to speak to someone and put your mind at ease rather than waiting weeks until your next appointment. If you have any questions, it is always better to speak to someone and put your mind at ease.

Acquiring a Working Knowledge of Maternity Note Abbreviations

In the maternity notes that they keep on file for you, your doctor or midwife will frequently use acronyms to record information about your health or observations about your baby at the prenatal appointments that you go to. If you haven’t seen anything like this before, it can look a little bit mysterious to you. As you read through your notes, you could come across a few different codes. Here is a quick rundown of some of those codes.

Your pregnancy

The due date of your child, as well as whether or not you have previously been pregnant or given birth, are all factors that can influence your requirements for maternity care. LMP – Last menstrual period. Before going in for your dating scan, you can use this to estimate when you will give birth. EDD – Expected due date. How many weeks pregnant you are — for instance, 16 weeks and 4 days (16 weeks and four days pregnant). Gravida or G indicates whether or not you have previously carried a pregnancy to term. Primigravida is Spanish for “having one’s first child.” Multigravida – You’ve been pregnant before. The number of times a woman has already given birth, often known as her “parity” or “P.” Nulliparous refers to a woman who has never before given birth. Primipara or primip refers to women who have previously given birth to one child. Multipara or multip refers to women who have previously given birth to two or more children.

That of your health

During the entirety of your pregnancy, your blood pressure and urine will be monitored, and additional tests, such as blood checks, will also be performed on occasion to ensure that your pregnancy is developing in accordance with the norms that have been established. No abnormality has been identified, also known as NAD (your urine test was normal). Your urine included a trace amount of protein or glucose, which is denoted by the symbol “tr.” +, ++, and +++ indicate that increased levels of glucose or protein have been discovered in your urine. This is a symptom that may be present in pre-eclampsia as well as in gestational diabetes. BP – Blood pressure.

If your blood pressure is significantly higher than it is typically, this could be an indication that you are developing pre-eclampsia or that you are experiencing pregnancy-induced hypertension. Oed Swelling, also known as oedema, is another sign that pre-eclampsia may be present. Hb – Haemoglobin. If your iron levels are too low, you may require therapy for the condition known as anaemia. VE – Vaginal examination. It may be necessary during pregnancy to do this test to determine whether or not the cervix has begun to efface and dilate.

The pace of your baby’s heartbeat and the movements of your infant

Your midwife or doctor will use a stethoscope or doppler to record and monitor the heart rate of your unborn child, and they will also ask you if you are feeling any movements during this time. FHH or H indicates that the foetal heart rate has been heard. Alongside this will be the number of beats that occur per minute (BPM). FHNH or NH indicates that the foetal heart rate could not be heard. This is very normal during the first trimester, and even occasionally the second, but your midwife may want you to come in for an additional checkup just to be safe. FMNF – Foetal motions not felt. Many women don’t start to feel movements until 20 to 24 weeks.

Whether or not your baby is positioned properly in your pelvis

When you are in the later stages of your pregnancy, the midwife or doctor will also evaluate how much the baby’s head has descended into your pelvis in order to determine how engaged your contractions are. 5/5, NE, NEng, Not Eng, or ‘free’ – The head of your unborn child is located above your pelvis. 4 out of 5: The head of your unborn child is above your pelvis. 3/5 The head is smaller yet the most of it is still visible above the brim. 2 out of 5 – Your infant is primarily below the brim and is engaged. 1 out of 5 or 0 out of 5 – The head of your baby is deeply engaged and can hardly be felt from above.

Position of your unborn child in the womb

Throughout your pregnancy and up to the time of delivery, your midwife will palpate, or feel, your stomach in order to determine which position your baby is in. Ceph, Vx, or C stands for cephalic (head down). B or Br stands for breech (head up with their bottom or feet in your pelvis). R or Tr – Transverse (lying across your belly). L or Long – in a Vertical Orientation O or Obl – Oblique or diagonally. OA – Occiput Anterior (head down, facing your back). OP = Occiput Posterior (head down, facing your front). OL – Occiput Lateral (head down, facing your side).

Baby positions in the womb