Antenatal CareAntenatal care is the term used to describe all the pregnancy checkups you will have from the early weeks of pregnancy right to delivery, including ultrasound scans and any other checks your doctor feels are needed. The obvious reason to have antenatal checkups is to ensure that you and your baby stay healthy throughout your pregnancy and also to be prepared, both mentally and physically, for the many dramatic changes that will occur in your body.There are other reasons, too, why antenatal care is important. Especially if this is your first baby, you’ll find that your whole network of friends and contacts undegoes a shift over the next year or so. Meeting other mums, getting to know health professionals in your community and forging links with clubs and organisations that are completely new to you…these are all factors in preparing not just for the birth of your baby but a whole new life.
So what should you expect from the medical care you will receive during your pregnancy? The vast majority of women find that the health care professionals they meet up with are friendly, informative and encouraging, keen to make sure that you have the best possible experience in pregnancy and in childbirth. As you go for an early ultrasound, for example, it’s likely that the staff will be interested in your scan and will explain to you what they can see on the screen. You shouldn’t hesitate to ask questions at any of your antenatal care appointments…if there’s anything at all you’re worried about or don’t understand, it’s important it should be cleared up as soon as possible. Some of us are a little hesitant about ‘bothering’ the doctor with what we might feel are silly questions but in pregnancy especially, it’s important, for your baby’s sake, to feel confident, happy and unstressed…so just go ahead and ask…it’s their job to answer!
This is the time when you will start to make decisions about what kind of labour and delivery you’d like. Get as much information as you can so that you can feel confident and well prepared, and your partner can be involved in the decision making too. Some of the most-asked questions are about whether it’s OK to exercise during pregnancy and what constitutes a healthy pregnancy diet. Many such pregnancy questions will be answered here on our site but those of a medical nature are best addressed to your doctor or midwife. As mentioned above, one of the great benefits of antenatal classes, for first time moms especially, is that you get to meet other mums-to-be at the classes. It’s great to have people in the same situation as yourself to talk to and share your experiences with. Week by week you go on the same journey together and when your babies are born, you may well find that you stay in touch and your kids become friends too! You wouldn’t believe how many lifelong friendships are formed before babies even come on the scene!