Antenatal care is the care you receive from healthcare professionals during your pregnancy. This care can be provided by a team that can include a doctor, a midwife, and usually with a doctor who specialises in pregnancy and birth (an obstetrician). The person providing the care can depend on where you live e.g in some rural areas all care including delivery is provided by the doctor.
Dr. Monica Agarwal will check that you and your baby are well, give you useful information to help you have a healthy pregnancy (including healthy eating and exercise advice) and answer any questions you may have. You may also be offered antenatal classes, including breastfeeding education classes.
You can book an appointment with Dr. Monica Agarwal as soon as you know that you’re pregnant. At this visit, you and your doctor can discuss what type of care you would like to have, and when and where you should have your next visit. At this first visit, you will be given information about:
- Folic acid and vitamin D supplements
- nutrition, diet and food hygiene
- lifestyle factors that may affect your health or the health of your baby, such as smoking, recreational drug use and drinking alcohol
- antenatal screening tests.
It’s recommended that you book into the hospital as soon as your pregnancy is confirmed usually by a doctor. The earlier a pregnancy is assessed is best for mother and baby. This is especially true if a first pregnancy or you have other health conditions.
Your next appointment should happen when you are at least 10-16 weeks pregnant. This is called the first antenatal visit or booking visit. This may last for up to two hours.
Dr. Monica Agarwal will ask questions to build up a picture of you and your pregnancy. This is to make sure you’re given the support you need, and so that any risks are spotted early.
It’s important to tell your doctor if:
- You’ve had any complications or infections in a previous pregnancy or delivery, such as pre-eclampsia or premature birth.
- You’re being treated for a chronic disease, such as diabetes or high blood pressure.
- You are on medications for any other condition or are taking regular over the counter therapies from a pharmacy or other practitioner.
- You or anyone in your family have previously had a baby with an abnormality, such as spina bifida.
- There’s a family history of an inherited disease, such as sickle cell or cystic fibrosis.
You’ll be offered some tests (to check for anything that may cause problems during pregnancy or after the birth). These tests will be discussed with you and you can choose whether you have them or not. If you haven’t already had a general health check- up, your midwife or doctor might recommend:
- a check to make sure your heart, lungs and blood pressure are okay.
- a urine test, to make sure your kidneys are healthy and check for signs of infection
- a blood test, to check for conditions like anemia, infections such as hepatitis, to see what blood group you are especially if it’s Rh positive or Rh negative
- a Pap smear test
- a breast check
- an ultrasound, to confirm dates of pregnancy and general well being of the fetus.
From around 24 weeks, your antenatal appointments will usually become more frequent. However, if your pregnancy is uncomplicated and you are in good health, you may not be seen as often as someone who needs to be more closely monitored.
Later visits are usually quite short. Your doctor will:
- check your urine and blood pressure
- feel your abdomen (tummy) to check the baby’s position
- measure your uterus (womb) to check your baby’s growth
- Listen to your baby’s heartbeat if you want them to.
Throughout your antenatal care the doctor might ask about:
- the date of the first day of your last period
- your health
- any previous illnesses and operations
- any previous pregnancies and miscarriages
- ethnic origins of you and your partner, to find out whether your baby is at risk of certain inherited conditions, or other relevant factors, such as whether your family has a history of twins
- your job or your partner’s job, and what kind of accommodation you live in to see whether your circumstances might affect your pregnancy
- how you’re feeling and whether you’ve been feeling depressed.
It’s up to you whether you answer any of these questions you’re asked – anything you say will be kept in confidence. The information will only be given with your permission to any health worker who needs to know as part of working with you.
If you have a regular menstrual cycle and you know the date your last period started this can be used to work out when your baby is due. Your due date is calculated by adding 40 weeks (280 days) to the first day of your last menstrual cycle. An ultrasound scan will give you a more accurate date for the birth of your baby.
Many women and their partners like to attend antenatal classes to learn more about pregnancy and birth, and about parenting a new baby. They can also give you the chance to ask questions and discuss your feelings about pregnancy and parenthood. Antenatal education is also a good way to meet other parents-to-be.
You may be asked to pay a fee. Ask your doctor about antenatal education available in your area and try to book your antenatal classes early as they tend to be very popular.