Antenatal care is the care provided by health professionals during your pregnancy. This is usually provided by a community midwife and the clinic generally takes place in your GP’s surgery or a local Children’s Centre.
You may also be offered appointments with an obstetrician (a doctor who specialises in pregnancy and birth), or one of the specialist midwifery teams based at St Thomas’ Hospital.
Your appointments and visits
At your first appointment (your ‘booking appointment’) you will be given your maternity notes – sometimes called the ‘orange book’. Please bring these with you to every visit and appointment.
During your first visit, the midwife will ask questions about your health, your family’s health, and your preferences for this pregnancy. With your permission, the midwife will record your height, weight and blood pressure, and will ask for a urine sample. You will be offered a full range of blood tests including:
- your blood group, iron level (haemoglobin) and rhesus status
- tests for HIV, hepatitis and haemoglobinopathies (eg sickle cell disease)
- screening for Down’s syndrome.
You will also be offered antenatal ultrasound scans at St Thomas’ when you are approximately 12 weeks’ and 20 weeks’ pregnant.
If this is your first baby, you will usually be invited to at least 10 antenatal visits during your pregnancy. If you have had a baby before, you will usually be offered seven antenatal visits. We strongly advise you to attend every appointment, so that we can check that you and your baby are well.
Where to give birth
You can give birth at home, or in St Thomas’ Hospital. In hospital you have the choice of giving birth in the Home from Home birth centre (this is recommended if your pregnancy is straightforward), or in the Hospital Birth Centre (this is advised if your pregnancy is more complicated).