Antenatal care, also called maternity care or pregnancy care, is the health care you receive during your pregnancy. It is offered by a midwife or an obstetrician. During this care, the health professional will monitor you to ensure that you and your baby are doing well. They will check your health and that of your baby, discuss your options during pregnancy and birth, and share information to help you have a smooth and healthy pregnancy.
But when should you start your antenatal care? It is recommended to see your midwife or GP https://osler-health.com/pregnancy as soon as you find out you’re pregnant. Starting your antenatal care early has various benefits for you and your baby.
When Should I Make My First Appointment?
The right time to start your clinic varies among different people. Most women prefer starting when they are 12 weeks. However, medical professionals recommend starting early. So around 6-8 weeks into your pregnancy should be fine. Here are some reasons to start your antenatal care early;
Although many women will carry their pregnancies to full term with minimal complications, some will face dangers that need to be addressed early on. Antenatal clinics may pinpoint health complications like diabetes, hypertension, and anemia and can be detected early to minimize the risk of miscarriages.
Get Advice on the Right Nutrition
Proper nutrition is vital for your baby’s development. Your doctor will advise you on the foods to eat and avoid. They may also give you iron supplements to help your child develop the brain and other organs.
Advice on Birthing Options
There are so many myths surrounding delivery options. Your antennal sessions are an opportunity for you and your partner to ask questions about your birthing options and delivery. The professionals will take you through the available options and help you choose the right way to go.
What Happens During the First Visits?
Each clinic is different, and it also depends on the patient. But generally, your midwife will conduct a full physical exam, including the pelvic and breast exam. You will also give blood and urine samples for tests for various things. Additionally, you will spend some time talking to your doctor about your pregnancy and expectations. There will be a lot of time to ask all your questions. So make sure you go in prepared.
Ultrasounds are not usually done until later in the first trimester. However, this depends on the condition of the woman. If your pregnancy is a high risk, your doctor may schedule an ultrasound sooner to check if the baby is progressing well. At six weeks, you may be able to hear your child’s heartbeat. However, it is more apparent at or after ten weeks.
Let us look at some of the questions your doctor may ask you during this visit;
- The first day of your last period
- Your general health, previous illness, and operations
- Previous miscarriages and pregnancies, if any
- You and your partner’s ethnic origins to determine whether your baby is at risk of some inherited condition
- Your job and partner’s job
How Many Appointments Will You Have?
If this is your first child, you may have around ten appointments. But if you’ve had a baby before, your appointments may be reduced to 7. However, this number may change depending on your situation. For instance, if your pregnancy is high risk or if you develop a medical condition, your appointments will be more.
Your midwife will tell you how many appointments you need and when they will likely happen early in your pregnancy. But, you can discuss with them if you have any concerns about the set dates. Your appointments can happen in your home, hospital, children’s center, or GP surgery.