Antenatal care is the healthcare support you receive during pregnancy, in preparation for your baby’s birth. This service isn’t only about administering medicine and running tests but it also includes counselling and providing information beneficial to you and the growth of your baby. It also includes advice on your general health, exercise, eating well and much more.
Your first antenatal appointment is known as the booking appointment. This usually happens between 8 and 12 weeks of your pregnancy.
Why are antenatal appointments important?
Regular antenatal appointments are important as they are used to keep an eye on how your baby is growing. This will be done by conducting blood tests and ultrasound scans to check the health of your baby.
During your appointment, this first-trimester screening allows to detect a range of pregnancy-related risks without harming the baby. Within this timeframe, your healthcare provider may be able to pick up some developing conditions and anomalies that can occur in the organs of a foetus and determine your risk of developing pre-eclampsia and urinary tract infections.
These might not have any early visible symptoms that you would notice but routine blood-pressure checks, and urine tests can pick up on them.
How many appointments will I have?
This defers from woman to woman who have varying circumstances. For those expecting their first child, you’ll have up to 10 antenatal appointments. 7 appointments would be adequate if you’ve had a baby before. Depending on what your doctor says, you may need more appointments, particularly if you have a medical condition or develop one during pregnancy.
Will I have internal examinations?
It’s unlikely you’ll need to have an internal examination until you go into labour unless there’s a concern that needs to be investigated. However, deciding whether you want to proceed with more invasive testing may deliver a more conclusive result. Towards the end of your pregnancy, you will be offered a membrane sweep if it looks like your baby will arrive late.
This involves your healthcare provider putting a finger inside the vagina to reach your cervix and gently making sweeping movements to separate the membranes. Once you go into labour you will have one to find out how far advanced your labour is.
How long are antenatal appointments?
The first antenatal appointment generally takes the longest, taking up to an hour – depending on your healthcare provider. Background questions about your health, your family’s health and the father of the baby’s health will be asked.
This is done to better support you and your baby during the pregnancy. Subsequent visits will be much shorter, taking around 10 to 15 minutes if your pregnancy is uncomplicated.
If you have any questions about your pregnancy, you can ask them at these appointments or contact Marie Stopes SA today.