There’s a lot that goes into making a baby and while your body is working hard to help your little one grow, professionals are also doing their bit to help care for you over the next nine months.
Antenatal appointments are part of this care and consist of a series of appointments with a midwife. In some cases this will be one assigned to you throughout your pregnancy, or you may see a range of midwives who work under your doctor’s surgery or hospital.
At a glance
- Everyone is entitled to antenatal appointments
- You'll be asked to attend around seven to nine appointments
- As you progress your appointments will become more frequent
If you're a first time mummy-to-be you’ll have around 10 appointments throughout your nine months, while mums who already have children will receive around seven.
If your pregnancy is slightly more complicated then you may be offered more.
When do my antenatal appointments begin?
As soon as you find out you’re expecting your new arrival you can contact your doctor’s surgery who will make your first appointment, usually with a midwife.
Later on in your pregnancy you’ll also be offered the chance to sign up to antenatal classes. Your midwife will be able to advise you on how to get your place in your area – get in there quickly as places fill up – and breastfeeding workshops.
What will happen in my antenatal appointments?
During your first appointment you’ll be asked a couple of questions about your general health, how you’re feeling about your pregnancy and any symptoms such as morning sickness.
It’s also common practice to be asked about any domestic abuse in your relationship or whether you need any additional support from social workers. Be as honest as you can be here – if you need support this is where you’ll be able to get the ball rolling.
You’ll also be asked whether you're being treated for a chronic disease, such as diabetes or high blood pressure or whether anyone in your family has previously had a baby with an abnormality, such as spina bifida.
If you’re already a mum then you’ll also be asked if you have had any complications or infections in a previous pregnancy or delivery. For example pre-eclampsia or a premature birth.
As well as these questions you’ll also be given some advice about healthy eating and exercise.
With all these questions and pieces of advice, it’s no wonder these appointments can take up to two hours.
Your next appointments
From around 24 weeks, you’ll find your appointments become more frequent.
Unlike your first appointment, these visits aren’t too long, unless you have questions – and never be afraid of asking about anything concerning you.
Each time you visit your midwife will:
Check your urine and blood pressure
Give your tummy a feel to check where baby is sitting
Measure your baby’s growth by measuring your uterus (womb) to check your baby's growth (unless you are having regular growth scans)
Listen to your baby's heartbeat – it’s a sound you’ll never tire of hearing
As you get closer to meeting your new arrival you may also be asked to keep track of your little one’s kicks and movement. If you’re worried that they have slowed down then tell your midwife or doctor quickly.
Everything your midwife finds during these appointments will be recorded in your maternity notes. If there’s anything you don’t understand then just ask, or take a look at our maternity notes deciphered article.