How do I book my maternity care?
Finding out that you are pregnant is both exciting and scary, and it can be difficult to know what to do next. As a first step, you need to contact the NHS to register your pregnancy and start your antenatal care.
The first appointment you have with a midwife, when you are about 8 to 12 weeks pregnant, allows you to receive maternity care provided by a particular hospital or the NHS Trust.
If you know of a local hospital or birthing center where you would like to receive your maternity care and give birth, you can contact the midwives directly. Otherwise, you can go through your general practitioner or your children’s center.
Then you’ll have one hour for your reservation appointment – your first meeting with a midwife – which usually takes place when you’re around 8 to 12 weeks pregnant.
What happens during the reservation appointment?
When making an appointment, your midwife will want to have an overview of your health and medical history to plan your maternity care.
They will ask you questions about:
- your physical and mental health, including any pre-existing health conditions you have and any medications you are taking.
- your family’s medical history and any genetic conditions you know of.
- the health and medical history of the baby’s father.
- the ethnic origin of both parents.
- your current lifestyle, including your diet and physical activity.
- your work and work plans during pregnancy.
- how you are feeling at this stage of pregnancy – both physically and emotionally.
- all previous pregnancies and births, including miscarriages.
- the date of your last period.
Your midwife will also perform some routine checks, some of which will be repeated later. . They go:
- measure your blood pressure.
- do a blood test.
- test a urine sample.
- take height and weight measurements to calculate your BMI.
All the information gathered during your reservation appointment will help the medical staff to identify the factors that may put you at an increased risk of complications during pregnancy or childbirth.
This means that they can provide you with the right maternity care and support throughout your pregnancy.
Your midwife will also calculate your estimated due date, based on the date of your last period. This will be confirmed by a dating scan between weeks 10-14.
Choose where to give birth
During the reservation appointment, you will have a first discussion about where you want to give birth: , at or in a hospital .
Don’t worry if it sounds intimidating to think about so early in your pregnancy. You can always change your mind later if you decide that you would like to have your baby somewhere else that best suits your needs and preferences.
If you do not yet know where you would like to have your baby, use our to explore the different options.
Your maternity notes
Your midwife will take notes about your health, family history, and childbirth preferences in a booklet, called your maternity notes.
At the end of the appointment, you will receive the booklet containing your and details of who to call if you have questions or concerns between appointments.
When will I have my reservation appointment?
Ideally, the booking appointment should be in week 10 of pregnancy, so there is plenty of time to adjust to your first one. and any other screening test recommended before the end of the .
The date probably won’t be much earlier than eight weeks, as the risk of miscarriage is higher before that point. If you haven’t booked with the NHS for 12 weeks or later, you should have your booking appointment as soon as possible.
How long will the reservation appointment take?
The booking appointment can take up to an hour, as there is a lot to cover on this first visit. In some places this will be split into two shorter sessions – you will be told what to expect when you register your pregnancy and the date is scheduled.
If you have your reservation appointment at a local hospital, you may have a at the same time. Otherwise, it will take place over the next few weeks and you should be able to book an appointment with your midwife at that appointment.
How to prepare your reservation appointment
In addition to giving you an idea of what your midwife will want to discuss at this first meeting, it is good to spend some time before the appointment to think about the questions you would like to ask.
To help you prepare:
- Calculate the date of your last period.
- Take note of any medical information you may need, including everything you know about your family history and the details of any medications you are taking.
- Write down any questions you would like to ask the midwife.
- If you have been asked to bring a urine sample, do so shortly before your appointment.
- Wear a sleeveless or loose top so the midwife can easily measure your blood pressure.
- Bring a pen and paper to jot down anything you want to remember or to check after the date.
You might like your partner or a friend with you to support you, and they can also help you take notes or remember things.
However, the midwife will ask you personal questions, so that she can ask someone else to leave the room at certain times during the appointment.
Everything discussed with your midwife is completely confidential. Check out our guide on about any problem or concern you have.
Questions to ask the midwife during your reservation appointment
Your booking appointment is a great time to raise questions or voice concerns during the first few weeks of pregnancy.
Your midwife can advise you on everything from foods to avoid and how to cope with the symptoms of pregnancy, to finding mental health supports or quitting smoking.
You might like to ask:
- What drugs are it safe to take during pregnancy?
- What vitamin supplements should I take?
- Can I continue to exercise during my pregnancy?
- Where can I find premises ?
- Who can I talk to about mental health issues?
If this is not mentioned during the appointment, you should also ask your midwife:
Coronavirus and antenatal care
Routine prenatal care is essential for detecting common pregnancy complications such as preeclampsia, gestational diabetes and urinary tract infections that do not present symptoms, and there is a potential risk of harm if you do not present. at your appointments – even in the context of a coronavirus.
Gill Walton, CEO of the MRC, says: “ If you are pregnant, without symptoms of coronavirus, you should continue to attend your antenatal appointments as usual, while following the social distancing advice of keeping a distance of two meters from others and to use private transport if possible. Even if you have symptoms, contact your midwife and she will work with you to ensure you continue to receive the care and support you and your baby need.
The Royal College of Midwives (RCM) and the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (RCOG) say at least six in-person prenatal visits should take place during the coronavirus pandemic.
Virtual consultations will be offered where appropriate, ensuring that women are seen in one-stop clinics that cover all medical and obstetric needs during the same visit, and using home blood pressure monitoring where it is safe to do so. This is to allow better compliance with social distancing measures and avoid unnecessary hospitalizations.
However, a risk assessment will be carried out to ensure that women who need it are prioritized for in-person care, where appropriate.
The RCOG says: “The NICE-recommended antenatal care program should be offered in its entirety whenever possible. Ideally and wherever possible, these appointments should be offered in person, especially to those in BAME communities, to those who have communication difficulties or to those who live with medical, social or psychological conditions that expose them. at a higher risk of complications or unwanted outcomes during pregnancy. “.
Your birth partner should be allowed to attend antenatal appointments, whether virtual or face-to-face, but check with your maternity team to see if this is the case.
If you are in self-isolation and have an upcoming prenatal appointment, you should contact your midwife or antenatal clinic to let them know about your situation. It is likely that your routine appointments will be delayed until the end of your isolation period.
If your maternity team informs you that your appointment cannot wait, arrangements will be made for you to be seen.
If you have suspected or confirmed COVID-19, you should also contact your maternity team and they will arrange the right place and time to go to your appointments: you do not have to go to a routine clinic.
If you have any concerns about your well-being or that of yourself or your unborn baby during your period of self-isolation, contact your midwife or, outside of business hours, your maternity team. to find out whether or not you should go to the hospital.