What questions could you ask at your first antenatal appointment – here are a few.
Q. Can I be sure I’m pregnant?
Over-the-counter pregnancy tests are reliable. You can do a pregnancy test on the first day of a missed period. If you don’t know when your period is due, a test 21 days after the last time you had unprotected sex should give an accurate result.
Q. When is my baby due?
Your due date is calculated from the first day of your last period. A dating scan usually offered between eight and 14 weeks of pregnancy, will measure baby and might alter the due date slightly, but usually only by one or two weeks.
Q. What is antenatal care?
You’ll have a series of appointments with a midwife, or sometimes an obstetrician. They’ll check that you and your baby are well, and give you useful information about being pregnant, such as healthy eating advice, information about tests and screening, and the different options for the birth. They’ll also answer any questions you may have.If you’re expecting your first baby, you may to have up to 10 antenatal appointments. If you’ve had a baby before, you should have around seven appointments. In some circumstances, you might have more. For example, if you have a medical condition.
Appointments can take place at your home, GP surgery or in hospital. You’ll be asked to go to hospital for your scans.
Q. What happens at my antenatal appointment?
Your midwife will check your blood pressure, urine for sugar and protein, listen to the baby’s heart and see if baby is growing normally.You’ll be offered a number of blood tests. Some are offered to all women, and some are offered only if it’s thought that you’re at risk of a particular infection or inherited condition. Blood tests can check for: anaemia, diabetes, HIV, immunity to rubella, blood group, including your rhesus status (whether your blood group is positive or negative).
An ultrasound at 18-20 weeks, called an Anomaly Scan, checks for any visible abnormalities in your baby. Women at risk can have more sophisticated tests to pick up other developmental abnormalities.
If you’re rhesus negative, you’ll be offered treatment with anti-D immunoglobulin, given either as one or two injections, between 28 and 34 weeks of pregnancy. This is to prevent your body making antibodies against your baby’s blood cells, which can happen if your blood group is negative and your baby’s is positive.
Q. What if something wrong?
The majority of pregnancies and births are normal. Routine checks aim to detect the most significant problems affecting you or your baby, such as poor growth of the baby, or signs that you may have diabetes or high blood pressure. You can be quickly referred to a specialist if your GP or midwife suspects a problem.
Q. What about illnesses during pregnancy?
GPs can advise you on safe treatment for minor pains, coughs, colds and rashes. They can safely prescribe certain antibiotics for minor conditions, such as urine or chest infections. Unborn babies are well protected from most illnesses that their mothers may get.
Q. How will I deal with labour pain?
Your midwife will be able to tell you what to expect, and what help you’ll be given to cope with the pain. Most maternity services also have antenatal classes where pain relief is discussed.