Antenatal checks are offered to every pregnant woman and are free on the NHS in the UK. Many are structured in the same way, but must include the basic check on the health of both mum and baby.
You can usually refer yourself to your local maternity department online, and they will send you a Midwife appointment. At this appointment, your midwife will meet you and plan your care. They will then meet with you at scheduled appointments throughout your pregnancy monitor your progress. If they deem you to be high risk at the initial meeting, they will refer you to the local Obstetrician at the Antenatal clinic.
Women often report that their ANTENATAL appointments are very one-sided, not long enough and that they often leave with more questions than they had when they went in.
Our handy check list will help you get more out of your appointments, which only last 10 minutes so you had better be fast…
First impressions count. . .How did you feel on your first meeting?? Is she someone you warmed to, instantly felt at ease?? Was she warm, friendly and welcoming?? Did she smile, introduce herself, outline your plan of care - and most importantly - answer any questions you may have?? If YES THEN GO GIRL, THIS MIDWIFE IS A WINNER!!! Stick with her and she will steer you through your pregnancy journey together. If NO then do not put up with her…Your pregnancy is an amazing time, you need to be happy, relaxed and super confident in her ability to look after you. If she reminded you of the worst teacher at school and that still gives you nightmares - then do something NOW. You can not spend anymore time with this person than necessary. . .Firstly, contact the GP surgery - see if they have an alternative Midwife. If not - go directly to the antenatal clinic where the team will assist you in your find for your dream leader. . .No-one will judge you!!
Grab your notes: Questions to ask
Always remember your notes. . .Number 1 rule! Your midwife will have on average a caseload of 100 women which by anyones standards is a lot of work. She may be super fantastic and recognise you, know your name and due date, but the nitty gritty of the check will need to be refreshed. How can she see if there are abnormalities if the records aren’t there?? As she is a fab midwife-she will always ask you if you have any questions. . . Make sure you write these down. There will be space in your notes for your queries, be sure to use it. There is nothing more annoying than getting home and remembering your questions- and your next antenatal is 4 weeks away. . .Any Midwife worth her weight will tell you to carry your notes anyway, so no excuses as to forgetting your questions. Always ask for the contact numbers of the local unit-they are open 24/7 for any questions you may have-use it.
General well being
“Hi, how are you?” - the standard introduction every Midwife will make. . .Question - How are you?? Be sure to tell her. Do not do one of the usual “fine” replies when there is definitely something up. Be honest-how can she help if she doesn’t know?? To you it may be something major, but to an experienced qualified Midwife, its probably nothing new. We have seen it all - and if we haven’t, we can 100% solve it. Nothing should be left unanswered.
Blood pressure, urine sticks
Every appointment should have a blood pressure and urine check. Vital. Bring a sample to every appointment should be drummed into you from the beginning. It is a vital clue to the wellbeing of your health and any deviations could have a serious effect on your baby. Make sure it is clearly documented. Blood-pressure rises and protein or sugar in your urine can be a sign of changes brewing- and they must be stopped. Tell her if you have headaches. . .Every pregnant lady will experience them due to the nature of the pregnancy, but if in conjunction with a rise in BP and protein in your urine, further check will be needed.
SFH, Palpation, presentation and lie
Your Midwife should get out her tape measure and measure your bump at every appointment from about 24 weeks. This measurement has a direct correlation to the weeks of your pregnancy. . .it should be plotted onto a graph in your notes so that any deviations can be picked up easily. Some ladies will have bigger babies due to their height, weight and BMI. Underlying conditions such as diabetes and smoking can also play a huge part in determining the size of your baby, but if in doubt, a referral for a scan is a must. Your Midwife will also tell you if the baby is head down or breech. This is of no significance until 36 weeks of pregnancy and most babies will turn on their own, but it is something to be aware of.
Fetal heart and movements
Often the favourite part of the antenatal check is the listening to the heartbeat. Your Midwife should listen for a minute and note its number as single digits (140bpm). Sometimes we hear a dip in the heartbeat - in this case she will send you for a scan. Unborn babies movements will be felt from approximately 20 weeks and these should be closely monitored. As the pregnancy progresses you will have your own unique pattern of baby movements throughout the day. Any changes to your unique pattern MUST be reported-use the number immediately and get it checked.
Whether you choose to breast or bottle feed, your Midwife will be able to run you through a list of items needed. She will recommend a breast feeding class www.thepregnancycoachingcompany.com and local support organisations that can help you. If you decide to breastfeed - she should encourage you to start hand expressing from 35 weeks of the pregnancy. This colostrum can be stored and will be essential when the baby is born. Bottle feeding mums will be given a list of equipment and instructions including how to make up a feed. They will be encouraged to bring formula into their delivery suite with them as the NHS no longer supplies formula.
Where to deliver
Many hospitals will have a birth unit/low-risk unit that runs alongside the main labour ward. This is ideal for women who want a Midwife led delivery and has no risk factors. If any deviations have been picked up during your pregnancy, you will be advised to deliver on a consultant run labour ward and the reason for this will be discussed fully with you. Many clients today opt for a water birth. These are available at home or in hospital. Ask you Midwife what is available in your locality. Community Midwives will provide all the care needed at a homebirth including how to go about booking one! They often deliver their own clients so ask yours if she is on the homebirth team! Hospital births are carried out by a core team of Midwives who only work in the unit. It is unlikely you will have met her before. . .so remember, if you don’t get the vibe when you meet her ASK to change. The Midwife in charge should facilitate this, even on a busy labour ward.
There are many alternative therapies that are available to help with pregnancy, labour and the newborn baby. Aromatherapy oils are used in most units as a way to help ease early labour pains and relax the stressed out mum to be. Many hospitals have a link to Hypnobirthing Classes and Alternative Pregnancy Classes run privately www.thepregnancycoachingcompany.com You will also be advised of other practitioners who can help will all sorts of pregnancy ailments from nausea and vomiting to baby reflexology and stretch marks!
Every pregnant woman will be feeling anxious about her pregnancy and birth. The NHS may not be able to offer classes in your area, and if they do - they will often be oversubscribed and last a couple of hours MAX. Private classes are available in some localities - usually based over 6 weeks, they give expert knowledge and support for pregnancy, labour, delivery and newborn babies. They are privately run and encourage women to bond over the classes, with offerings such as “Whats App” messaging and home visits for support.
They charge approximately £300 for the 6 week course and are worth their weight in gold. Our favourite is the www.thepregnancycoachingcompany.com who have an intensive, well structured course available. Not only can you go to their classes in person, but they will soon offer classes on-line so you can learn from your sofa in your PJ’s!, WIN WIN!!!! Watch this space. . .
The Pregnancy Coaching Company
Join our unique classes today;
Call 07939 332444 or
For further information:
Find us online at;
Or email us at;