What happens at my first antenatal appointment?
Your first antenatal appointment will usually take place when you are between eight and 10 weeks pregnant.
Known as the booking appointment, this is likely to be the first time you meet your midwife and they will spend time talking to you about your circumstances, family history and any medical issues you may have. They will also carry out some tests and give you important information about your care.
The appointment itself will usually take around an hour so make sure you allow plenty of time. If you are more than 10 weeks pregnant and you have not yet seen your midwife or GP, contact them as soon as possible so they can arrange an appointment.
Depending on where you are based, the appointment may take place in a health centre, GP surgery, hospital, Children’s Centre or even your own home.
What will the midwife ask me?
The first antenatal appointment is a valuable opportunity for your midwife to gather the information they need to ensure you get the right care during your pregnancy. Some of the questions may be very personal but it is important to be honest so your records are accurate.
You will be asked questions about your circumstances at home, including where you live and who you live with. You will also be asked about any previous pregnancies you may have had, the baby’s father and any health issues – both physical and mental.
You will also need to give the midwife the date of the first day of your last period if you know it so they can work out your estimated due date. If you have no idea when you might have become pregnant due to irregular cycles or a lack of periods, an early scan may need to be arranged to work out how far along you are.
Your midwife will also ask about health issues in your close family and whether you smoke, take drugs or drink alcohol. You will be asked about your job if you have one and whether you have a support network of people to help, which could be a partner, family members or close friends.
Some of the questions will be quite sensitive and your partner may be asked to leave the appointment for a short time if they are accompanying you. Your midwife will ask some questions about your relationship and home life to identify whether you may be a victim of domestic abuse.
You will also be asked about female genital mutilation (FGM) as this can cause issues with labour and birth so the team caring for you need to be aware if it has happened to you.
Your booking appointment is a good opportunity to tell your midwife about anything which might be worrying you about your pregnancy or anything which may affect your mental and physical health while you are expecting.
What tests will be carried during my first antenatal appointment?
Your midwife will usually weigh you and record your height so they can calculate your body mass index (BMI). Your blood pressure will also be taken and you will asked to provide a sample of urine. Your midwife will dip a testing stick into the sample to check for any protein or signs of infection.
They will also take some samples of your blood, which will be used to check which blood group you are and your general health. For example, if you are anaemic, this blood test should flag up there is a problem so you can take iron supplements.
Your blood will also be screened for conditions which could affect your pregnancy and baby, including HIV, hepatitis B, syphilis. You may also be offered a blood test for sickle cell and thalassaemia if you are considered to be at risk of carrying the genes for these conditions, which are both inherited blood disorders.
What information will my midwife share with me?
As well as asking lots of questions, your midwife will also share useful information with you about your pregnancy and the care you will receive. This will include advice about eating healthily and any foods you should avoid or limit during pregnancy. They will also talk to you about exercising safely and how to do your pelvic floor exercises to prepare for your baby’s birth.
You will also be given information on how your baby will develop as your pregnancy progresses and what your antenatal care will involve, including an idea of when you can expect to have your antenatal appointments.
Your midwife may also talk to you about antenatal classes and the benefits you are entitled to during your pregnancy, including free dental care, free prescriptions and paid time off work for your antenatal appointments. They will also discuss the screening tests and scans which you will be offered throughout your pregnancy and book you in for your dating scan – often called the 12-week scan.
You will also discuss where you can have your baby, although you will not have to make any final decisions at this stage. Your booking appointment is also a great opportunity to raise any concerns you may have or ask any questions about your pregnancy.
Will I be given my maternity notes?
You will usually be given your maternity notes at this appointment. Depending on where you are based, these may be handheld paper notes or they may be digital and accessed via an app or website.
These notes are important as they will form a detailed record of your pregnancy, including the results of any tests. They will also include some useful information for you, including any phone numbers you may need to use to contact your team of midwives and the maternity unit at your local hospital.
You will need to keep these notes with you at all times until your baby is born in case you need any medical care during your pregnancy.