Antenatal care

Antenatal care is the care you get from health professionals during your pregnancy. It’s sometimes called pregnancy care, maternity care, or prenatal care.

Care during your pregnancy (prenatal or antenatal care)

If you have not yet been referred to our maternity services, you can use the below boxes to self-refer:

You’ll have a number of appointments and see various different healthcare professionals as part of your care during pregnancy. Your care will be led by your community midwife team.

You’ll have regular personalised care from your midwife during your pregnancy – this is in the form of telephone calls and face-to-face contact. There are usually at least 7 contacts, but that is dependent on your individual personalised care plan.

Your first midwife appointment

Your first appointment (also known as a booking appointment) will be with your community midwife, ideally before you’re 10 weeks pregnant.

The midwife will:

  • ask some questions to find out what care you’ll need.
  • ask if they can carry out some screening tests. This might include your height and weight, blood and urine tests, and blood pressure.
  • give you information about your pregnancy, birth and breastfeeding, staying healthy, what care you’ll be offered and further support.

If you’re more than 10 weeks pregnant and haven’t seen a GP or midwife, contact a GP or midwife as soon as possible.

Find out more about what happens at the booking appointment on the NHS website: Your first midwife appointment.

Other midwife appointments

Depending on your stage of pregnancy, your midwife may do some or all of the following:

  • ask about your physical and emotional wellbeing
  • ask about your living situation and relationships
  • take blood
  • ask for a urine sample
  • record your heart rate, blood pressure, height or weight
  • check the baby’s position
  • check the baby’s heart rate
  • ask if baby is moving normally for you
  • measure your baby to make sure they are growing well
  • make a referral to specialist midwives or other health professionals
  • discuss any results from earlier appointments
  • discuss your birth choices
  • discuss how to know you are in labour and who to call
  • discuss pain relief in labour
  • discuss postnatal care

The appointments are also a time for you to ask questions and discuss any issues and concerns with your midwife. If there’s anything worrying you do, please do make sure you mention it, it’s important so that we can provide you with the best possible care.

Specialist midwives

We may refer you to a specialist midwife during your pregnancy. A specialist midwife is someone who has done specialist training in a particular field. Our team includes midwives who specialise in:

  • diabetes
  • screening
  • birth reflections or trauma
  • bereavement
  • infant feeding
  • mental health
  • pregnant people needing extra support

Screening appointments

12-week pregnancy dating scan

This scan takes place between 8 and 14 weeks and checks how far along in your pregnancy you are, and your baby’s development.

If you’ve agreed to have screening for Down’s syndrome, Edwards’ syndrome, and Patau’s syndrome, and your scan takes place between 11 and 14 weeks, the sonographer (person doing the scan) will also do the screening.

Your dating scan will usually take place at the Fetal Medicine Unit at the Royal Cornwall Hospital in Truro.

Find out more about what happens at your 12-week scan on the NHS website.

20-week scan

This detailed ultrasound scan, sometimes called the mid-pregnancy or anomaly scan, is usually carried out when you’re between 18 and 21 weeks pregnant.

The scan looks in detail at the baby’s bones, heart, brain, spinal cord, face, kidneys and abdomen. It allows the sonographer to look for 11 rare conditions. The scan only looks for these conditions, and cannot find everything that might be wrong.

Find out more about what happens at your 20-week scan on the NHS website.

Other scans

You may also be offered other scans during your pregnancy to check how the baby is doing, for example if we want to check on the baby’s growth or if the baby’s activity levels have changed.

Non-urgent advice: Please note:

If you have concerns about your baby’s wellbeing, including if you think their movement patterns have changed, slowed down, or stopped, it’s important that you call us straight away. If you’re less than 28 weeks pregnant, call your community midwife. If you’re more than 28 weeks pregnant, please call the maternity triage team on 01872 258000. You can find out more about why your baby’s movements are important on the Kicks Count website.

Coming into hospital when you’re pregnant

There are a number of reasons why you might need to come into hospital during your pregnancy, from routine appointments and tests, to care for any complications. These might include:

  • raised blood pressure, in case you need medication or tests for pre-eclampsia
  • reduced fetal movements, which could result in electronic monitoring (CTG) or induction of labour
  • acute abdominal pain
  • vaginal bleeding during pregnancy
  • low fetal weight identified on an ultrasound, which may need reviewing by a clinician and further ultrasound scans
  • taking blood samples
  • an iron infusion if you have anaemia
  • for administration of intramuscular steroids
  • Induction of labour (IOL). This might be for various reasons, most commonly if you are past your estimated due date.
  • or if you need to see a consultant, which could be for a number of reasons including hyperemesis, spontaneous rupture of membranes (your waters have broken) or a pre-assessment before an elective caesarean section.

You can find information about the different wards and units you may come to here:

Preparing for birth and your baby

It’s a good idea to start thinking about the birth and what will happen when baby arrives.

Antenatal Education

Prepare for labour, birth & beyond with our online antenatal classes.

The sessions last 1.5 hours, run on Microsoft Teams & cover five main topics; 

Session One: Preparing for Birth (body & mind)

This session explores the physical & hormonal changes to your body, techniques to help you prepare for birth & our birth locations here in Cornwall.

Session Two: Labour & Birth

This session explores the stages of labour, pain relief & everything in between!

Session Three: What If?

This session touches on alternate birth plans & scenarios when birth doesn’t go 100% to plan.

Session Four: Your Postnatal Bubble

This session explores the fourth trimester, birth recovery & life with a newborn.

Session Five: Postnatal Bonding

Preparing to feed & bond with your baby with our specialist Infant Feeding Team.

We suggest booking the course around 25 weeks.

Page last reviewed: 21 August 2023

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