The first antenatal (or booking) visit at the hospital can take a few hours as you will meet several healthcare workers.
The midwife and doctor will talk to you about your medical, surgical, obstetric and family history. You will have an ultrasound scan performed, as well as blood tests.
Also, the doctor may carry out a physical examination, which includes checking your heart and lungs. You really need to set aside a few hours for this visit so that you can discuss all aspects of your pregnancy with the healthcare professionals.
After you check in with the clerical staff, you will meet your midwife who will talk to you about making a plan for the months ahead. She will ask you questions about:
The midwife will talk to you about health issues such as smoking, alcohol and your diet. She will give you information and advice on eating well in pregnancy and on foods to avoid. She will also talk to you about the options of care available to you during your pregnancy and will give you information on preparing to breastfeed. The midwife will discuss any concerns or worries you may have about your pregnancy and can give you the contact details of other services or organisations that can provide additional help and support.
If you have had a complicated pregnancy in the past, or you have a medical problem, for example high blood pressure, diabetes, or a blood clotting disorder, you will be referred to the appropriate specialist doctor for the duration of your pregnancy.
Your height, weight and blood pressure will be checked as well as your urine to make sure you don’t have any infection. A number of blood screening tests will be done so that treatment, if necessary, can be carried out during your pregnancy to protect you and your baby.
With your written permission, several blood tests are taken. You will be happy to know that all these tests are usually taken at the same time. These blood tests will:
The results of all these tests can take up to 14 days to complete. If any test needs to be repeated, you will be contacted by phone or letter by the hospital staff.
You will not receive notification if the blood tests are normal. The results will be filed in your healthcare record for you to see at your next antenatal visit.
Your urine is checked at every antenatal visit. The two main tests are for protein and glucose (sugar). The most common cause of protein in the urine is an infection in your kidneys or urinary tract. Women are more likely to get infections during pregnancy because all the tubes that make up the urinary system are more relaxed because of pregnancy hormones. Also, the position of the bladder in relation to your womb (uterus) can be a factor. Checking protein levels in late pregnancy is very important, as it can be a sign of the condition called pre-eclampsia.
Glucose in your urine is a concern as it could mean that you are developing pregnancy-related diabetes. If you are found to have glucose in your urine, the midwife will ask you if you were fasting when you gave the sample. If not, she will ask you to return to the hospital the following day with a fasting sample. If this sample is negative for glucose, no action is taken.
If, however, there is still glucose present, the midwife will ask that you have further blood tests to see if you have developed pregnancy-related diabetes. If you have, you will be referred to a specialist team for the remainder of your pregnancy.
If you are of average height and weight, you can expect to gain about 10 – 15 kg (20 – 30 lbs) during the pregnancy. The only time that you are weighed in the hospital is at your first visit. (Women attending the diabetic or anaesthetic clinics will be weighed more often.) It is important not to gain too much weight as this can lead to complications during the pregnancy.
However, it is essential that you eat well and stick to a healthy balanced diet made up of carbohydrates, proteins, fats, vitamins and minerals. Your baby is totally dependent on you for its supply of nourishment in order to grow and develop.
Staying healthy during pregnancy.
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