Antenatal care is the care you receive from health care professional during your pregnancy. The purpose of antenatal care is to monitor your health, your body baby’s health and support you to make plans which are right for you.
About antenatal visits
For most women, pregnancy is a straightforward, happy and healthy time. Having regular antenatal check-ups is an important part of staying healthy and making sure your baby is healthy.
Regular checks during your pregnancy can assist in identifying and reducing risks to either you or your baby. Although you may be feeling well, it is still important to go to all your antenatal check-ups.
Antenatal visits also give you a chance to ask any questions and to talk about any issues that you are unsure about, such as aches and pains, the birth, feeding your baby or any other concerns. Before each visit, it is a good idea to think about the things you want to talk about and then write them down so that you don't forget them.
What happens at your first antenatal visit?
· At your first antenatal visit you will be asked lots of questions about your health, any other pregnancies, yourself, your partner and your family. This will assist the midwife or doctor to plan your care.
· Your midwife or doctor will check your blood pressure, weight and height and you may need to have a Pap smear if you have not had one in the last 2 years.
· Other examinations (heart, chest and breasts) may be done if indicated.
· At your first visit, you may also have some blood taken for tests and your urine will be checked as well.
· You will be asked about possible signs of depression, stresses that you might have and social supports (your family and friends).
Your medical history
· Your midwife or doctor will need to know your medical history, including information about illnesses, operations, and allergic reactions to drugs, heart or kidney problems and any other health issues.
· Your midwife or doctor will ask about any medications you may be taking, including those bought from a pharmacy, health food store or supermarket without prescription.
· Your midwife or doctor will also record important personal information, including your age, occupation, your partner’s age and occupation, how much alcohol you drink and if you smoke.
What you can expect in your second antenatal visit?
Review the basics
Your health care provider will check your blood pressure and weight at every visit. Share any concerns you might have.
Then it's time for your baby to take center stage. Your health care provider will:
During the second trimester, you might be offered various prenatal screenings or tests:
Keep your health care provider informed
The second trimester often brings a renewed sense of well-being. Morning sickness typically begins to dissipate. You begin to feel the baby move. Your belly becomes more noticeable. There's a lot happening.
Tell your health care provider what's on your mind, even if it seems silly or unimportant. Nothing is too trivial when it comes to your health — or your baby's health.
Later/other antenatal visits
From around 24weeks, your antenatal appointments will usually become more frequent. However, if your pregnancy is uncomplicated and you are in good health, you may not be seen as often as someone who needs to be more closely monitored.
Later visits are usually quite short. Your midwife or doctor will:
Feel your abdomen (tummy) to check the baby's position
Measure your uterus (womb) to check your baby's growth
Listen to your baby's heartbeat if you want them to
You can also ask questions or talk about anything that's worrying you. Talking about your feelings is as important as all the antenatal tests and examinations. You should be given information about:
Your birth plan
Preparing for labor and birth
How to tell if you're in active labor
Introduction of labor if your baby is overdue (after your expected date of delivery)
The "baby blues" and Postnatal depression
Feeding your baby
Vitamin K (which is given to prevent bleeding caused by vitamin K deficiency in your baby)
Screening tests for newborn babies
Looking after yourself and your new baby