Your antenatal care will begin with your booking-in visit. This will either be done by your doctor or your midwife (who may visit you at home). You will receive consultations, check-ups and tests throughout your pregnancy to monitor your health and that or your baby. There are a number of options for you to consider regarding who attends your labour. You can attend an antenatal clinic either at your doctor’s surgery or at the hospital where you will have your baby. Most women attend once a month for the first 28 weeks and then every two weeks up to 36 weeks and then once a week for the last month. You may however, have to attend more frequently if your pregnancy is complicated, e.g. you are expecting twins or have high blood pressure.
your booking-in visit
Many women have their first and longest antenatal check-up around the 8th-12th week of pregnancy. The doctor/midwife will want to know the date of your last period so that they can estimate when the baby will be due. You will be asked a lot of other questions about your health, any illness, previous pregnancies, miscarriages. You will be asked for information on your and your partner’s family (e.g. inherited illness (e.g. cystic fibrosis) or twins). This helps the doctor or midwife to spot any special risks.
choices in care
There are various choices you can make about the type of care you will receive in pregnancy and in labour and whether it will be predominantly provided by your GP, Midwife or Hospital. You will need to decide whether you will have your baby at home or in hospital.
You can choose where you will receive your ante- and post-natal care, e.g. you can choose to go to the hospital once or twice during your pregnancy and then to give birth in the hospital (SHARED CARE).
If you have a GP Unit at your local hospital your GP may be able to care for you there when your baby is born or you can be looked after by hospital midwives.
Some GPs will book you for a home birth and provide your maternity care. A midwife also has the legal right to take sole responsibility for your maternity care provided no complications arise.
This scheme is not available everywhere. Under this scheme a community midwife looks after you during your pregnancy, comes to your home when you go into labour and then goes into hospital with you, delivers your baby and then accompanies you home a few hours later.
You may also choose to employ an independent midwife to care for you throughout your pregnancy and labour until a few weeks after the baby is born.
Ask your doctor or midwife to explain the options available to you since they vary from area to area.