Receiving the news that you are pregnant may be a shock or a surprise, depending on whether you were trying to conceive or not. Regardless of the amount of planning in your pregnancy, your first step in being a responsible parent is to start good antenatal care.
The first step is to book an appointment with a midwife. This can be done either through your GP, health practice, or directly with the midwife. Seeing them as soon as possible is the key to a healthy pregnancy and the will be your partner throughout your pregnancy. Whether your pregnancy is otherwise normal, or needs to accommodate special health requirements for either you or the baby, the midwife is the first point of contact.
First-time mums may see a midwife up to ten times whilst pregnant. For subsequent pregnancies, around seven appointments may be necessary. More may be needed for special conditions. Your midwife is the one who can let you know, with written guidelines, how many to expect and when. You can discuss this schedule with them so that you are able to keep all the appointments.
Your initial appointment is all about getting to know each other and what is expected over the next nine or so months. Being in a relationship with your midwife means that you both need to be comfortable with each other, and understand the needs of both you and the baby. To begin this relationship, the midwife will ask many questions. You should make sure you understand all these questions so that you are able to share your own health history and benefit from the advice of this professional.
At your first visit, you can explain your pregnancy and health and family status. In return, the midwife will give information about nutrition such as folic acid and vitamin D supplements as well as diet and hygiene. Lifestyle choices will also be the topic of discussion, such as alcohol, cigarette and drug use. You will also talk about the tests that are available during pregnancy that screen for abnormalities.
It is important to tell your midwife about any history, whether personal or in your family, of certain medical conditions. If you have a chronic disease such as anaemia, diabetes or high blood pressure, it is important to make this known. If you have been pregnant before, you need to say that, and include details such as pre-eclampsia or premature births. If you or anyone in your family had a baby with an abnormality, such as spina bifida, or if there is a history of sickle cell or cystic fibrosis, this can also be shared. In return, they will give you appropriate advice on a healthy pregnancy for you and your baby.
The key aspect to proper antenatal care is to give and get information openly and in the most appropriate format which will allow informed choices to be made. Your individual situation and special relationship between mum-to-be, baby, and midwife is something unique.