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What is the first ante-natal visit about?

Your first ante-natal visit (often referred to as a booking appointment or booking-in visit), is the first official check-up in pregnancy. It provides your health team with valuable background information. The term "booking" originates from the time when women literally had to book themselves a hospital bed for labour!

Let your doctor know as soon as you know that you are pregnant and they will arrange your appointment. The appointment generally takes place by 10-12 weeks of pregnancy. This is done so that any first trimester screening tests can be arranged. You probably will see the she may come to your home. After the visit, you can have all your appointments with the community midwives, or share them with your doctor.

If you have a serious health condition or other complication you will also see a consultant obstetrician from time to time. You can request a consultant appointment during your pregnancy, even if you don't have any complications.

Be prepared for lots of questions. Your caregiver needs to establish an accurate picture of your health, your partner's health and the medical history of both families'. It may even require two appointments to cover everything needed for the visit.

Your next antenatal checks will be at 16 and 25 weeks if this is your first pregnancy. You'll have an appointment about every three weeks until you reach 34 weeks. Then the checks will be increased to every other week or so. If at 40 weeks, you haven't already given birth, you'll be seen again after a week. You will be offered a scan to check your baby's development at about 18 or 20 weeks.

Your next appointments will be at 16, 28 and 34 weeks if this is not your first pregnancy. Then every two weeks until the baby is born. You will be offered a scan to check your baby's development at about 18 or 20 weeks also.

You will normally be given a contact number at this first appointment, so don't hesitate to contact your caregiver if you have problems.  If you were very concerned and were experiencing pains you should head straight to the hospital where you intend to give birth. 

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