This will be your first appointment and probably the longest. Your midwife might see you in her clinic or come to your house and you will share lots of information with each other. She’ll be asking lots of questions about any medical problems, previous pregnancies and your family’s medical history so that she can plan the best care for you and refer you to a doctor if needed. She’ll also discuss the various blood tests that are available. The blood tests offered would include:
- Full blood count to check for anaemia
- Sickle cell disease and thalassaemia major which are serious inherited blood disorders.
- HIV, hepatitis B and syphilis
- Blood group, and also to check if antibodies are present.
- You will also be offered a blood test with a scan, or alone, to assess the likelihood of having a baby affected by Downs Syndrome.
She’ll also organise your ultrasound scan which will be at around 12 weeks of pregnancy and another around 18–20 weeks which checks that your baby is developing normally and that the placenta is in the right place. You might feel a bit bombarded with information, but she’ll leave you various leaflets to mull over in your own time, before you make any decisions.
She’ll also need to take your blood pressure, test a urine sample and make a note of your height and weight, but that’s it –there’s no need for any internal examinations-this appointment is more of a long chat!
If you’re straight forward and it’s your first baby you’re probably looking at around 10 antenatal appointments, with subsequent pregnancies, less. However, the number of times you see your midwife very much depends on what your individual needs are.
From 25 weeks your midwife will have a feel of your bump, and measure it with a tape measure to check that your baby is growing. She’ll ask about your baby’s movements and offer to listen to your baby’s heartbeat with a hand held Doppler.
At each appointment she’ll be checking your blood pressure and also a sample of urine to check for infection and for pre eclampsia.
Around 28 weeks she’ll advise some more blood tests-for antibodies and also to see if you need any iron tablets as you get closer to the birth.
You’re entitled to paid time off from work, including travelling time, when it comes to your antenatal care-so make the most of it!