The Booking Visit
Your first antenatal appointment is also often called the ‘booking visit’ and happens at about 10-12 weeks. If you decide on private care, this appointment will be with your chosen care provider (obstetrician or midwife). If you choose care in a public hospital, then this appointment will most likely be with a clinic midwife who will determine if future care can remain with a midwife, or if you should see an obstetrician. If you would like to have midwifery group practice care (public hospital), then you should make this known at the booking visit.
The purpose of the booking visit is to get your medical and pregnancy history and perform a mental and physical health check. This information will be kept in your file at the hospital and may also be duplicated in a booklet for you to keep with you. It is important to take the book everywhere (work, gym, holidays etc), so that if you ever need to go to a different hospital or see a GP urgently, you can show them this record.
Your estimated due date (EDD*) will be calculated according to when the first day of you last period was. If you don’t know when this was, or you have an irregular period, then you will generally be offered an ultrasound dating scan to determine the age of the pregnancy. If you have had IVF and are certain of your dates, this will be used to calculate your EDD. *Some places still record this as EDC, which means estimated date of confinement.
After your health history has been taken you will have a physical health check, which may include measuring your blood pressure, taking your weight and performing a cervical screening test if it is due. As your baby would be only very small at this age, your midwife or doctor most likely won’t perform any monitoring on your baby. You can expect to ‘hear’ your baby from about 20 weeks, when baby monitoring starts.
Tests and screenings options will be discussed and you’ll be given a form for them. A blood test will determine your blood type, check your iron and vitamin D levels, test for any current disease, plus more. Screening tests which are offered at this appointment include the first and second trimester screenings. Also, a urine sample may be taken to screen for infections or disease that may be present.
The booking visit takes much longer than other antenatal appointments as a lot of information is shared. For this reason, it is a good idea not to bring small children along. If they do need to come along, make sure to bring something to keep them distracted.