What is pregnancy care and what does it involve?

Pregnancy care, also known as antenatal care, is the name given to the advice and help you will be given by healthcare professionals leading up to the birth of your child.

Whether you’re a first time mum or already have children, there is specific help available to you from the NHS that you’re entitled to.

In this brief guide we will outline the key things you will experience in the time leading up to you giving birth.

What do I do when I find out I’m pregnant?

We know all too well that when you discover you are pregnant, you will encounter a whole range of emotions and feelings, but remember not to panic, as there are lots of people on hand to help. The first thing to do when you find out you are pregnant is contact your GP’s surgery to let them know. They will then book you an appointment with a GP or with a midwife.

Mums-to-be who have special requirements for their pregnancy may well get shared pregnancy care from several professionals including a GP, midwife and even an obstetrician.

Pregnancy care appointments

Following your initial consultation, you will then get a series of appointments booked in. For first-time mums you’re likely to get around 10 before your birth date and for those who’ve had a child already it’s likely to be less.

Appointments are often with a midwife and can be held in a variety of locations, including the GP’s surgery, a hospital or even at your home.

The first appointment you have around 8-12 weeks into your pregnancy is known as the ‘booking appointment’. This often coincides with your initial ultrasound scan.

During your following appointments you will be asked questions about your pregnancy, so the midwife can find out how you’re getting on. This is an opportunity for you to find out any answers to queries you might have as well.

Your maternity notes

Your maternity notes are an important source of information for midwifes, doctors and other health professionals you may come into contact with throughout your pregnancy and even after you give birth.

These are a written record of your health and that of the baby, plus include results of your various checks and tests.

They are updated during all of your appointments, so make sure you take them with you or have them to hand if your appointments are at home.

Checks and tests
At your appointments the midwife (or other healthcare professional) will conduct a series of tests including:

  • Weight and height
  • Blood tests
  • Urine tests
  • Blood pressure tests

The aim of these tests is to check that you and your baby are healthy, plus it allows the midwife to be able to spot early on any potential risks. For example blood test can help things like Diabetes or Anaemia.

Lifestyle advice

Another key part of your pregnancy care is the advice you will receive around your lifestyle. It may seem obvious that when you become pregnant there may be certain aspects of your lifestyle that need to change, however a midwife can advise you on why these are important, plus help you deal with how to make these changes easier to deal with.

The key lifestyle changes you may need to consider include:

  • Smoking
  • Drinking alcohol
  • Recreational drug use
  • Diet
  • Exercise

Of course some of these may not apply to you, but your midwife can help give you the right information to make your pregnancy as enjoyable as possible, as well as help to keep your baby healthy.

Hopefully you’re now armed with a bit more information about what antenatal care you are entitled to, however if you have specific questions about this or any aspects of your pregnancy then our team of qualified midwives are on hand when you need them.