First midwife appointment
Your first midwife appointment
Your first midwife appointment is an exciting moment. You are unlikely to be cared for by the same midwife throughout your whole pregnancy and often women see a team of midwives for their antenatal appointments. Your first appointment is an opportunity to ask questions and raise any concerns you might have. You shouldn’t be worried either, or feel the need to hold back - your midwife will have helped countless mums-to-be before, and they certainly won’t be surprised or shocked by anything you say! A midwife is there to help and provide you with any reassurance you should need.
How and when to arrange your first pregnancy appointment
So you’ve taken a home pregnancy test and it’s confirmed you’re going to have a baby - congratulations!
The next step is to call your doctor. Some doctors like to see you first to confirm for themselves that you’re pregnant. They will then organise your first midwife meeting, which is sometimes called a booking appointment or your first antenatal appointment. Other doctors will be happy to send you directly to a midwife and will give you a number to call. Some hospitals have self referral forms that you can fill in on their websites.
Ideally, you should have had your first midwife appointment by the time you’re 12 weeks pregnant. If you start your antenatal care after 12 weeks, your doctor will arrange your first pregnancy appointment as soon as possible. Your local doctor will normally be responsible for putting you in contact with your nearest midwife, or you can also arrange a midwife appointment through your local council or Children Centre. There are also independent midwives which you can find online.
What happens at your first midwife appointment?
Whether you have booked your appointment through the NHS or you are using an independent midwife, it is very natural to feel nervous during your first antenatal appointment. It really is nothing to worry about, though. You’ll have a lot to discuss, so your first pregnancy appointment may last for up to two hours. It’s a great opportunity to get to know each other and to really understand what your antenatal care involves.
What your midwife will want to know
The more information you can give your midwife during your first pregnancy appointment, the more they will be able to help you during the next nine months. That’s why they’ll need to ask a few questions about your medical history and lifestyle. For example, they’ll want to know if you’ve been pregnant before and if there is a family history of diseases. They will also want to know if you smoke, how much you drink and if you’re taking any medication.
Your midwife will want to know if you’re feeling a little down or anxious about your pregnancy. This is because they care for you and your baby’s wellbeing. A problem shared is a problem halved, and understanding your mental condition now could help you avoid getting postnatal depression after the baby is born. Although it is important to inform your midwife if you are feeling down, this can be perfectly normal during pregnancy and does not necessarily mean there is anything wrong with your mental condition. Tell your midwife how you are feeling, whether down or anxious, and also be sure to disclose any mental health conditions you have.
These are all important factors your midwife should know about in order to help you as best they can, so don’t feel the need to hold anything back. Anything you say to them will be treated in confidence, so if you are experiencing problems or want to get anything that could impact your pregnancy off your chest, feel free to share anything you want. You should feel supported to discuss issues you have at anytime throughout your pregnancy.
In addition to medical history and lifestyle, they’ll want to know when you had your last period so they can calculate your due date. Following this, they will tell you about your birth options so you can start thinking about what you want to do when the big day finally comes. They will want to find out things like where you want to give birth, whether it be at home, in hospital or at a birthing centre.
Lastly, your midwife will go through your feeding options and find out whether you want to breast or bottle-feed your baby.
What about antenatal testing and examinations?
At your first midwife appointment, you’ll have some blood taken and be asked for a urine sample for a range of tests. If you are worried about having your blood taken, don’t be afraid to say - your midwife will put your mind at rest and make sure you’re comfortable. All tests are optional but recommended and your midwife will first gain your consent for all the tests you need.
During your first midwife session why not ask them about the other tests you’ll have to take in the not-too-distant future, like your ultrasound scans and screening tests. Your midwife won't offer to examine you internally at your first antenatal appointment.
Your midwives will not start measuring and palpating (feeling your tummy) until the 25 week appointment. This is also usually the first time they will listen to your little one’s heartbeat using a hand-held device placed on your bump.
Questions to ask your midwife
You’ll probably have a million and one questions racing through your head, so this first meeting with your midwife is the perfect opportunity to get some answers. No matter how silly you think the question might be, if you don’t know the answer, it’s a question worth asking. If you have any symptoms which are causing discomfort, then this is also the perfect time to ask about them.
Before you meet, it might be worth jotting down any questions or concerns as they pop into your head. Here is a list of common questions mums-to-be like to ask during their first midwife visit:
- What sort of screenings and tests will I need?
- What birthing options are available?
- How do I go about booking antenatal classes?
- What foods should I be eating and what foods should I avoid?
- What sort of exercise should I take?
- What are the facilities like at the hospital I’ll be attending?
How many midwife appointments will you get?
If this is your first pregnancy, it’s typical to have around 10 appointments with your midwife. These will become more frequent towards the end of your pregnancy. The exact number and timings will vary from place to place and will also depend on whether your pregnancy is high or low-risk.
Remember, if something is worrying you, there’s no need to wait for your next appointment. Your midwife will give you a contact number (usually for your local maternity unit) that you can call anytime, 24/7, for help.
Time off for antenatal care
If you are an employee and in full-time work, the good news is you have the right to take reasonable time off for your midwife appointments. This includes time needed to travel to your midwife or doctor, without loss of pay. If you’re in any doubt, speak to your employers or visit: https://www.gov.uk/working-when-pregnant-your-rights
Have a question about your midwife appointments?
If you'd like to know more about your midwife appointments or being pregnant in general, why not give one of our friendly experts a call on 0800 977 8880. Or, ask us a question online, instantly, using Live Chat Monday to Friday, 8am - 8pm.