Your antenatal appointments will take place during your pregnancy. ‘Ante’ means before, and ‘natal’ means birth.
Who will conduct my antenatal appointments?
This depends on where you plan to give birth.
- If you’re opting for a home birth, your midwife will likely be your go-to. They may conduct some appointments from your home or at a hospital.
- Public hospital appointments are generally with a GP or midwife.
- Your obstetrician will be in charge of antenatal check-ups in a private hospital.
- Birth centres generally have a midwife administering antenatal care.
What do antenatal appointments involve?
These appointments are recommended to assess risk, track your baby’s health and development, and monitor mum’s physical and mental wellbeing.
These appointments are also a great opportunity to talk about any concerns or ask questions.
During the first visit, you will be asked for a comprehensive history of your physical and mental health, which may involve questions or tests about:
- Previous pregnancies (and any complications).
- A family history of health conditions from both parents’ sides if possible.
- Any mental health issues experienced by either parent.
- Mum’s medications, supplements and diet.
- Mum’s habits regarding smoking, drinking and recreational drug use.
- Mum’s emotional state and home life.
- Blood samples to test for blood group type, infections, rubella immunity, anaemia etc.
- Urine samples to test for UTIs, diabetes etc.
If you need support cutting down and quitting certain vices like smoking, your antenatal care professional can provide you with resources and support. Likewise, if your mental wellbeing is of concern, you may receive a referral to a mental health specialist.
Use these appointments to ask questions. Knowing what to expect for the upcoming months may make changes easier to deal with. Always let your professional know if you’re experiencing any unusual symptoms, pain or bleeding or you are experiencing any mental health issues.
You will likely receive guidance as to what kind of food to eat, which vitamins to take (if any), what kind of exercises your body can handle and what to expect of your mood. However, if you feel you’re not getting the information you need, ask specific questions!
Tests will also be conducted for your baby’s growth and development. You can usually find out an approximate due period of time (often called an expected due date, but no one predict exactly when your baby will be ready to be born!) and the foetus’ risk of some abnormalities.
If this is your first pregnancy and you are deemed low risk, you’ll generally have 8-10 antenatal appointments. If you’ve had an uncomplicated pregnancy before, this number may lower. If you’re higher risk, often because you've had a complicated pregnancy before or you have certain indicators or conditions, your appointments may be more frequent.
You may wish to have a support person accompany you. Make sure this is someone you can either share everything with or can comfortably ask to leave the room if you need to divulge personal information to your professional.
Attending antenatal appointments is one of the first steps in taking care of your newborn-to-be, and equally importantly, yourself!