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Pregnancy Antenatal Care – Your Health Care Team and Appointments
During pregnancy, the health of you and your baby is closely monitored, but who should you see? When do you need to see them? And what are all the pregnancy tests and scans for? Figuring out what prenatal care you should expect when you’re pregnant can be confusing, so here’s our guide to help you through this exciting time.
Your Pregnancy Health Care Team
Your team of health professionals during pregnancy can be very diverse. Initially you should see your doctor (family doctor) when you think you are pregnant, and they will help you plan your antenatal care.
Your doctor should tell you how to set up your first appointment with your midwife (otherwise known as your ‘book in appointment’) and from there the midwife will look after you and your baby throughout your pregnancy and for the first few weeks after your baby is born. born
You can also have routine appointments with an Obstetrician at the beginning and end of your pregnancy. They specialize in pregnancy and birth and will see you more regularly if you are carrying multiple births, have any complications with your pregnancy or have a planned caesarean section.
When your baby is a few months old, your Health Visitor will take over the care of you and your baby from your midwife. They will likely visit you to see how you are doing and are available for any worries or concerns you may have as your baby grows.
During your first pregnancy you will probably have up to 10 appointments to attend. This reduces to about 7 in subsequent pregnancies.
The number of checks you have during pregnancy depends on many things:
- Your risk factors
- Any complications
- Selected labor options
- The number of babies you are carrying
- The area in which you live.
All pregnant women will be given their medical record to keep during pregnancy. Don’t forget to bring them to all your appointments so that whichever doctor or midwife treats you has your notes to hand.
Reserve by appointment
The first meeting with your midwife will take place when you are around 8-10 weeks pregnant and is referred to as the ‘book in’ appointment.
This is when your midwife will discuss your family history (and your partner’s), give you advice on your diet, lifestyle and staying healthy while you are pregnant.
The midwife will also do some tests such as urine and blood tests, you will have your blood pressure checked and some details about your body recorded such as height, weight and belly measurement. This is all for your midwife to monitor the health of you and your baby.
Appointment 12 week scan
Many clinics offer a scan between 10 and 14 weeks. This is your pregnancy date scan (also called the 12 week scan) and is used to date the pregnancy more accurately than the estimated due date your midwife may have given you. The date scan is also used to check the number of babies you are carrying.
Sometimes you may be able to take a photo of the baby home with you (hospitals often pay for this) to keep as momentum from your 12 week scan. For most women this is the first time they will see the baby.
The dating scan is not offered in all parts of the country, so if this is not available to you in your area, you will have to wait for the 20 week anomaly scan, which is the next scheduled pregnancy scan.
Blood pregnancy tests
You should have a range of blood tests in your 2nd trimester, usually between the 14th and 20th week of your pregnancy. These are routine and are offered to all pregnant women:
- Blood group tests identify whether you are Rhesus Negative (RhD). This can cause complications in subsequent pregnancies, but simple injections during your first pregnancy will prevent this.
- You will have what is called a full blood count (repeated again at 28 weeks) which helps check you for deficiency anaemia, a common complaint during pregnancy.
- You will also be screened for infections and viruses such as Hepatitis B, syphilis and HIV. This is a precautionary measure and just means they can take care of your baby to prevent you passing on the infection during pregnancy.
The 20 week anomaly scan
Around your 20th week of pregnancy, you will have an abnormal scan. This is a detailed check on your baby using ultrasound and examines the baby’s body, measurements and growth. They will also check your placenta and you may even have the option of finding out the gender of your baby, although not all places offer this and no hospital guarantees the gender of the ultrasound.
You can usually request a picture of this pregnancy scan, but again expect to pay a charge. Some places even offer video.
Additional tests and scans
In addition to the standard pregnancy scans and tests, you may be offered additional checks, either as optional tests if you are at risk of certain complications, or as extra monitoring of your baby. The important thing to remember is to discuss any concerns you have with your midwife or doctor, they are there to help make your pregnancy as healthy, safe and enjoyable as possible.
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