Pregnancy & Antenatal Care
The Pregnancy Journey – Part 1 – The First Steps
Congratulations!! You’ve just found out that you’re pregnant! Whether you have been
planning this pregnancy for months or it’s a surprise I’m sure that there are lots of different questions
running through your mind. As its still early days you may want to keep your pregnancy a secret from friends
and family; but there are so many questions you want to ask!
The first 12-14 weeks (1st trimester) of your pregnancy passes by so quickly. But it’s still a
time that many women become anxious regarding different aspects of their pregnancy. So I have preformed a
search within the Rollercoaster forums; to see what the most are frequently asked questions during the first
trimester for women. I hope that as you read these monthly ezine articles they will help you gain an
understanding of your body, how it changes during pregnancy and allay any anxieties you may have.
By now many of you have preformed a pregnancy test and gotten a positive result! But what now?
You may choose to visit their GP so you can confirm your pregnancy and write a letter to the Maternity
Hospital that you will be attending for yourr pregnancy. A lot of women assume that this visit to the GP is
covered under the Mother & Child Scheme (M&CS) and they won’t have to pay. However you will have to
pay your GP for this visit. The M&CS entitles all women who are pregnant, to free antenatal care and
postnatal care if they choose it. If you choose semi-private or private care, this is not covered and you
will have to pay.
Many women make the mistake of not making an early appointment for their 1st visit to
the hospital – believe it or not you should ring your maternity hospital and book in as soon as possible! Due
to the increasing birth rate many women don’t get a scheduled 1st visit until they are 14-16 weeks
pregnant. The first booking appointment should be done ideally at about 10 weeks (NICE Guidelines 2008). At
your first appointment you should expect to answer a series of questions without your partner present ( to
ensure complete privacy) regarding your health, any medical conditions/surgeries, smoking /alcohol
consumption/drug misuse/ previous pregnancies. This ‘interview’ can take 30-40 minutes to complete so make
sure your partner has sufficient reading material with him and knows where the coffee shop is!
At this stage you will also be expected to have blood tests taken. These blood tests are routine
and test for ; your blood type/group, HIV, Syphilis, Chlamydia, Your level of immunity to rubella( german
measles) and Varicella (chicken pox). The reason you are tested
routinely for these diseases and your level of immunity to them is because you may need some form of
treatment to protect your baby and pregnancy. Some hospitals also do a dating scan at this stage. This may be
done in the scanning department or in the out-patient dept. Some maternity hospitals then ask you to return
in 2-3 weeks after this (when all your blood tests are back) to see the doctor on your first
visit. In other hospitals you may see the doctor after your
blood tests and interview with the midwife. Generally you should expect approx 10 visits between the
GP/Hospital during your 1st pregnancy and fewer visits on your 2nd and subsequent
Often, women are disappointed after their 1st visit. They feel that the midwife or
the doctor weren’t as excited as they are about their pregnancy; or maybe they feel the whole visit was a rush and
they forgot to ask all the questions they’ve had. You may feel that
it’s a long time to wait for a scan to confirm your pregnancy and when you do have a scan you may find i difficult
to see their baby on the monitor. If you wish, you can schedule
private scans, this can be arranged through the hospital or some of the private scanning clinics. You will have to
pay for a private scan and prices will vary so check in advance with the scanning facility you choose. There is no
medical reason to have an early scan, but you may find it a reassuring way to confirm your pregnancy and enjoy
seeing your little baby at this stage.
Further Issues of Pregnancy Journey:
Part 2 - Early Signs & Symptoms of
Part 3 - Antenatal Hospital Appointments &
Part 4 - Hospital Bag, Preparing for