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A breakdown of your booking appointment

If your pregnancy test has come back positive, and you know you should see a midwife, but you’re unsure how to go about it – this article is for you! Read on to learn more about how to book your first appointment in pregnancy, and what this appointment will entail. 

Your booking appointment information card: (1)

What?The booking appointment is the first of many antenatal care appointments. It will last approximately one hour, during which you will be asked questions about your medical, personal, and family history, and offered certain health checks (blood test, urine dip).  
When?Before 10 weeks of pregnancy, try to book in for this appointment as soon as you find out that you are pregnant. 
Where?At home, in hospital, in a GP surgery or at a children’s centre
Why?This appointment occurs early in pregnancy to identify any potential health risks to you and your baby during pregnancy – to ensure that you receive the best possible care during pregnancy. It’s also a chance to learn more about your pregnancy journey, and to ask any questions you may have
How?Contact your GP or a midwife when you find out you are pregnant, and they will help you book an appointment. Depending on where you live, you may book an appointment online.
Who?It usually takes place with midwives. 

What questions will you be asked? (2)

Your healthcare provider will ask various questions about your medical and family history to ensure they are holistically aware of your health and well-being, to be able to support you throughout your pregnancy. They will also ask about your personal life, including some topics that may feel personal or sensitive – such as physical and mental health, housing, finances, and relationships. More specifically, the healthcare team will ask you about any previous pregnancies, your smoking, alcohol and drug consumption. They will ask about the father of the child and any health conditions they may have, as well as your relationship with them. More broadly, they may touch on other relationships you may have, your support network, and whether you have experienced any form of abuse. Every woman is asked these questions without judgement, and so responding as best you can to these will help your healthcare team provide the best possible care during pregnancy, labour and after birth. 

What tests will be carried out? (2)

Various health checks will be carried out to determine any health risks to you or your baby during pregnancy. Your blood pressure, height and weight will be checked. You will be asked to provide a urine sample, which will be dipped to check for blood and protein. Finally, you will be offered a blood test to screen for various infectious diseases (syphilis, HIV, hepatitis B) and blood disorders (thalassaemia, sickle cell disease). You are unlikely to need an internal examination. The results of these tests will help your doctors determine whether you may need supplements, medication, or extra appointments.  

Information you may obtain: (2)

This is the time to find information about your own health, and your baby’s development, during pregnancy. 

Your health

Your health will be regularly checked at your antenatal appointments, and there are steps you can take to increase the likelihood of an uncomplicated pregnancy. 

    • Maintain a healthy diet: this is even more important in pregnancy, for both you and your baby to thrive. Although your nutrition is important for your baby to grow, you do not need to eat for two! As a general rule, eat a varied and balanced diet. However, certain foods should be avoided, as they can harm the baby, for example foods high in vitamin A (cod liver oil, supplements), uncooked meat, oily fish, raw eggs, unpasteurised cheese. They may contain certain nutrients or toxins that can be harmful to your baby, or make certain infections more likely.  For more information, visit the “Foods to Avoid in Pregnancy” page on the NHS website. (3) 
    • Exercise: keep exercising, as long as it feels comfortable and is not high risk of falls. Don’t forget your pelvic floor exercises! 

Your baby

During your booking appointment, you may be provided with an overview of your baby’s development during pregnancy: size at different stages, development of different body parts, when you should feel movements, etc. Your baby’s health and development will be monitored regularly during the antenatal appointments. 

Your care 

You will be followed regularly throughout pregnancy, with regular scans and tests. Towards the end of your pregnancy, you can make a birthing plan and learn more about breastfeeding. You may also attend antenatal classes and local support classes to help prepare you throughout pregnancy, during birth and after birth, including breastfeeding and bonding with your baby. 

While pregnant, you are entitled to certain benefits, such as free prescriptions and free dental care. Your healthcare team can provide more details about these. 

All the care you receive will be recorded in your maternity notes. These also contain useful phone numbers, like the maternity unit and midwifery team. 

Questions you can ask?

Any! 

This is the time to ask any questions you may have. The healthcare team is here to help and guide you during your pregnancy. And don’t worry if other questions arise as time goes on – you will have multiple appointments throughout your pregnancy and a contact number for the midwives to address any ongoing concerns you may have around your, or your baby’s health. 

References:

    1. Your first midwife appointment [Internet]. NHS. 2018. Available from: https://www.nhs.uk/pregnancy/finding-out/your-first-midwife-appointment/
    2. Recommendations | Antenatal care | Guidance | NICE [Internet]. National Institute for Health and Care Excellence. 2019. Available from: https://www.nice.org.uk/guidance/ng201/chapter/Recommendations#routine-antenatal-clinical-care
    3. Foods to avoid in pregnancy [Internet]. NHS. 2022. Available from: https://www.nhs.uk/pregnancy/keeping-well/foods-to-avoid/

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