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Midwives are trained to support you during pregnancy, childbirth and the first week postpartum. Once you have contacted a midwife, generally at the start of your pregnancy, you will be booked in for regular appointments.

Your first antenatal appointment

At your first antenatal appointment, the midwife will discuss a number of matters, including:

  • the date of your last period
  • the medical history of you and your family
  • any genetic disorders in the family
  • past sexual trauma
  • nutrition, vitamins and the use of nicotine, alcohol, medication or drugs

Your antenatal appointments

At your antenatal appointments, the midwife will usually:

  • measure your blood pressure
  • examine your abdomen to determine the baby’s growth and the amount of amniotic fluid
  • listen to the baby’s heartbeat

One aspect of your antenatal care is measuring your blood pressure. High blood pressure can be a symptom of preeclampsia, which prevents the placenta from working properly, which in turn may affect the baby. If you have high blood pressure or other complications, you will be referred to an obstetrician.

In your antenatal appointments, the midwife will discuss blood tests and ultrasounds with you, and will give you a referral if necessary. The midwife may perform a blood test to check your iron levels (haemoglobin) and Rh factor or whether you have hepatitis B, syphilis or rubella.

The frequency of antenatal appointments will increase as your pregnancy advances. In the first 20–24 weeks of pregnancy you will have an appointment once every 5–8 weeks. In a normal pregnancy, your midwife will probably schedule an appointment about once every three weeks from 28 weeks. Towards the end of your pregnancy this will increase to once per week. At around 28 weeks the midwife will check the baby’s position, but this may change until late in the pregnancy.

Referral to an obstetrician

In some instances, your midwife may refer you to an obstetrician, for instance if you suffer from a particular condition, complication or disease. If you are referred to an obstetrician, you may still stay in touch with your midwife. In principle, the obstetrician will assist during labour and the midwife during the first week postpartum.

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