So your first midwife appointment is coming up and you have no idea what to expect.
Worry not, we're here to walk you through the whole appointment. Find out why pregnant women are offered a booking appointment, what usually takes place at one and what questions you should ask your midwife or doctor.
If this is your first pregnancy you might be nervous about your first appointment with the midwife. There is no need to be worried as the point of all these appointments is to ensure that your pregnancy progresses as smoothly as possible. If you have any worries or concerns, don't keep them to yourself, make sure to let your midwife know so she can help put your mind at rest.
Pregnancy is such an exciting time, so congratulations and read on to find out what to expect at your first midwife appointment. To learn more, why not read our article about [di di twins] or our guide to finding a doula in the UK?
What Is A Booking Appointment And How To Prepare?
A booking appointment is your first midwife appointment in your pregnancy and it usually takes place within the first 10 weeks of pregnancy.
Pregnant women are advised to book in to see their midwife or doctor as soon as they realise they are pregnant, in order to arrange a booking appointment. A booking appointment is important because it gives your midwife or doctor the opportunity to carry out some important tests, find out about you, your situation, and your pregnancy, and offer you information and support.
You don't need to do anything to prepare for your first antenatal appointment and don't worry, you won't need to have an internal exam of any kind at your first appointment! You won't have your first scan at this appointment, and it is unlikely that you will have the chance to hear baby's heartbeat at this appointment either. These are all exciting milestones to come in future appointments!
If you have only just found out you're pregnant and you've gone past 10 weeks, make sure to contact your doctor as soon as possible, so they can book you in for your first appointment.
What Will Happen At The Appointment?
At your first antenatal appointment, your midwife or doctor will want to find out about yourself and your situation and will ask you questions so that they can tailor their care to suit both your and your unborn child's needs.
Your first appointment with a midwife might take place in your GP surgery, a children's centre, a hospital maternity unit, or your own home.
Your appointment should last about an hour, as this will give the midwife ample time to ask questions, take your medical history, carry out some tests, and listen to any questions you may have.
Your midwife is sure to ask what might seem like a lot of questions. Some of the questions might not seem relevant to you, but questions on different topics can help your midwife work out the risk of your baby contracting certain genetic diseases. If you don't know much about your or your baby's dad's health history, don't worry. Just give whatever information you can.
Your midwife or doctor will want to find out about your personal circumstances before all else. They will want to know about any other children you may have, any health issues you may have or any family history of illness, your living situation and who you live with, and whether or not you have a partner.
Your midwife will want to know how you feel about your pregnancy and if you require additional emotional support during your pregnancy. They will want to know about your mental health requirements and if you have supportive people around you or not. If you are experiencing any problems with your partner or family, this is your opportunity to tell your midwife, and they will be able to help. They will want to know about your baby's father and his circumstances, and if you are together or not.
Your midwife will then take some tests. She'll get you to take a urine sample for signs of pre-eclampsia which is a condition that affects the arteries carrying blood to your placenta. Next should come your screening tests. Your healthcare professional will take some blood tests to check for HIV, syphilis, and hepatitis B. Tell your midwife if you are worried about having your blood taken as she will be able to reassure you and tell you exactly what to expect before doing anything to you.
During your first antenatal appointment, you will have your blood pressure taken and your midwife will measure your height and weight to work out your body mass index.
You might be offered a blood test to check for sickle cell if your midwife thinks it is worth screening for, depending on your risk factor.
Questions To Ask Your Midwife At A Booking Appointment
So what questions might you think of asking at your first appointment with your midwife? Feel free to ask your midwife whatever is on your mind, so you can get the information you need to be able to relax and enjoy your pregnancy.
1. You might want to ask your midwife if and how any health conditions you may have could affect your baby.
2. You might want to know if anything you did before realising you were pregnant could have impacted your baby.
3. You might want to disclose information about your personal situation for which your midwife could provide support. For example, if you are in an abusive relationship, or feel conflicted about the pregnancy in any way. Your midwife is there to support you and any information you provide is strictly confidential.
4. You might want to ask questions about the other appointments, scans, and screenings you will have coming up, your schedule for your upcoming midwife appointments, and the availability of antenatal classes in your area.
What Will Happen After The Appointment?
After your first midwife appointment at 7 weeks or thereabouts, you will be offered a dating scan. This is a scan that aims to determine your due date and might allow you the chance to hear your baby's heartbeat! This scan usually takes place at around 12 weeks and is used for screening for conditions such as Down Syndrome. The scan will assess your baby's development, to make sure everything is going smoothly.
As your baby develops you will be offered more antenatal NHS appointments and scans throughout your pregnancy. It is important to go to all your screening tests and antenatal appointments as these NHS appointments with your community midwife are important for tracking your baby's development. Antenatal appointments and screening tests can identify problems with development or issues with positioning which could make birth more difficult. If there are issues, it's best for them to be identified early on as your antenatal care can be adapted to suit your baby's development and your physical and mental condition.
At 16 weeks pregnant you will be offered another scan which will take place within the following month. At this antenatal care appointment, you will have your blood pressure checked and have a urine test.
At your 20 week scan, you will be offered an ultrasound to check on your baby's development again, in addition to this, a whooping cough vaccine will also be offered to you.
If this is your first pregnancy you will be offered another appointment at 25 weeks pregnant. You will have your health checked, your blood pressure will be taken, your uterus will be measured and your urine tested for protein.
At 28 weeks you'll have your blood pressure taken, urine tested, uterus measured and you'll be offered some more screening tests.
At 31 weeks you will go over the results of your screenings and have the same health checks carried out again. You will have the same again at 36 weeks, and your NHS health professional should give you information on what to expect when you give birth.
At 36 weeks you will be given information on all sorts of things related to birth and the care of your baby. You will talk about breastfeeding and bottle feeding, caring for a newborn, postpartum depression, and newborn screening tests. At 38 weeks your blood pressure and urine will be checked and your uterus measured again.
The same checks will be carried out at 40 weeks if this is your first pregnancy. If this isn't your first pregnancy then your next antenatal care appointment will likely be at 41 weeks, if you haven't given birth yet, when you will be offered a membrane sweep. You will also discuss induction options in the event that baby doesn't feel like making an entrance any time soon!
If you found this article helpful, then why not take a look at our tips for early pregnancy anxiety, or what to do if you're [feeling cold during pregnancy]?
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