Everything you need to know about antenatal appointments.

During your pregnancy it’s important to have regular appointments with your doctor or midwife, to check on your health and the health of your baby. Not only can these appointments keep an eye out for anything important, but it also helps you mark major milestones along the way and become better informed on what’s happening.

The first steps

When you first find out you’re pregnant you should get in touch with your GP, obstetrician or midwife as soon as possible, so you can start your antenatal care.

The professional or team who will look after your antenatal health (sometimes referred to as prenatal health) will depend on where you live and where you plan to give birth. If you live in a rural area all care, including delivery, might be handled by a doctor, whereas if you live in larger city you will have more options at your disposal.

antenatal appointment facts
You may also be offered antenatal classes, including breastfeeding education classes. Image via iStock

The initial visit

First off, your doctor or midwife will check that you and your baby are well, give you useful information to help you have a healthy pregnancy and answer any questions you may have. You may also be offered antenatal classes, including breastfeeding education classes.

At your first visit, you will be given information about antenatal screening tests, nutrition, diet, and food hygiene, lifestyle choices that might affect your health and the health of your baby (such as smoking, drinking alcohol and recreational drug use), and supplements.

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The follow-up

Your next appointment will be scheduled for when you're 10-16 weeks pregnant. This appointment could last for up to two hours as the doctor and midwife ask you questions to build up a picture of you and your pregnancy.

They'll ask you questions about your health, family history and previous pregnancies.

It’s important to tell your midwife or doctor if:

  • You’ve had any complications or infections in a previous pregnancy or delivery, such as pre-eclampsia or premature birth.
  • You’re being treated for a chronic disease, such as diabetes or high blood pressure.
  • You are on medications for any other condition or are taking regular over the counter therapies from a pharmacy or other practitioner.
  • You or anyone in your family have previously had a baby with an abnormality, such as spina bifida.
  • There’s a family history of an inherited disease, such as sickle cell or cystic fibrosis.
antenatal appointment facts
They'll ask you questions about your health, family history and previous pregnancies. Image via iStock.

You'll also be offered some tests to check for anything that could cause problems during the pregnancy or after the birth. These could include a blood pressure check, a urine test, a blood test, a pap smear and a breast check.

Visit number three

From around 24 weeks your antenatal visits will become more frequent, and the frequency will depend on how you are travelling in your pregnancy.

Your doctor will check your urine and blood pressure, feel your abdomen to check the baby's position, measure your uterus to check the baby's growth, and listen to your baby's heartbeat.

These later appointments are also a great opportunity for you to ask questions and talk about anything that might be worrying you.

For more information on what to expect during your first trimester of pregnancy, head here

What surprised you about your first antenatal appointment?