50% of pregnancies are planned, and the other 50% are surprises! Some are longed for babies and others are a shock for women and can take a while to come to terms with. Usually it is in the first trimester when you realise you’re pregnant, you may have a missed period or have other symptoms, such as sickness or tiredness, which lead you to taking a pregnancy test. Whatever your circumstances, the next step is often to book with your midwife. You can do this by contacting your GP’s surgery for an appointment.
Your booking appointment
This is your first appointment with your midwife and will be longer than usual due to more questions about your health and history being discussed with you. There will be the opportunity to talk about many topics surrounding pregnancy and birth at this appointment, as well as throughout your antenatal appointments during the rest of your pregnancy.
The main discussion points during the booking appointment focus on:
- Where would you like to have your baby? You can choose from various hospitals and birth centres in your local area or choose to have your baby at home.
- General form filling, such as contact details and your next of kin.
- Details of your medical and family history so further input from other health care professionals can be offered if indicated. For example, if you have a heart condition your midwife will offer to refer you to a cardiologist, so you are able to discuss issues personal to your pregnancy, labour and birth.
- Screening tests that are available. Once you have the information you will be able to go home and think about which tests and/or scans you would like to go for.
- Any general questions surrounding your pregnancy, such as dietary requirements and recommended vitamin supplements or what types of exercise are suitable whilst you are pregnant.
There are different systems regarding storing your personal information around the country as we move from paper to electronic record keeping. You may have a set of paper notes to carry with you during pregnancy or you may be given access to your medical records electronically - check which system is available in your area. All medical records are strictly confidential and maternity records are stored for 25 years after your baby is born.
Your midwife will also discuss with you the pattern of antenatal care which is offered, such as routine midwife appointments, consultant appointments, ultrasound scan appointments and approximately when they could take place in your pregnancy.
Routine antenatal appointments
You will be offered a pathway of antenatal appointments and depending on the area you are in or the team you have these will usually be based at your local GP surgery or community centre. Sometimes midwives will do appointments at your home.
During these appointments you will be offered the following to check on yours and your baby’s wellbeing:
- A blood pressure check. A rise in blood pressure during pregnancy may indicate a condition known as pre-eclampsia. Early identification of this condition can mean you access medical care sooner rather than later to address this.
- Urine testing. Several things are checked for including the presence of protein, which can also be an indicator of pre-eclampsia.
- Abdominal palpation. This will be offered during the 2nd It can enable your midwife to measure your bump and estimate the growth of your baby, as well as determining which position your baby is lying in during the 3rd trimester (your baby will be bigger and easier to feel later on in pregnancy).
- Blood tests. Your midwife will offer you blood tests to determine things such as your blood group and iron levels (low iron is common in pregnancy and can be rectified through diet and/or tablets).
After your booking appointment you may feel overwhelmed and have lots of questions that you wished you’d asked at the time. There will be plenty of time to do this in later appointments, but it may be worth keeping a note of these in your phone or notebook as a reminder.
For your next appointment remember to take; your antenatal notes- if you have any, a urine sample (your midwife will give you a pot) and a list of any questions you have.
Your booking appointment is an exciting opportunity to meet the midwife who will work with you during the time you are pregnant to support your choices. As well as providing your clinical care, seeing your midwife regularly will help you work through any questions or concerns and can be an excellent source of information for you.