Your first appointment in the maternity hospital is often called the booking visit. This is generally the longest and most in-depth visit you will have. This should happen towards the end of your 1st trimester, usually between 10-14 weeks. This visit is very exciting and can make the pregnancy start to feel very ‘real’ with many women often announcing their pregnancy around this time. So what can you expect at the booking visit?
This is usually the first introduction to the maternity hospital and your first meeting with the doctors and midwives who will look after you during your pregnancy. They will take a medical and obstetric history from you, and details of any family history of illness. This helps to determine the potential for any risks that may occur during your pregnancy. If there is a risk, you will be referred for the appropriate screening and tests if required. So a few different things will happen.
You will have your blood pressure checked to provide a baseline as you go through pregnancy. This will be taken at every ante natal visit. A rise in blood pressure later in pregnancy could be a sign of pregnancy induced blood pressure or developing pre-eclampsia.
Your urine will be tested at every ante natal appointment for any signs of infection or presence of protein. Protein in urine can also be an indication of developing pre-eclampsia.
Expect to have a weight and height check at this visit. These are used to calculate your BMI (body mass index).
You will have to sign a consent form, and your blood will be tested for a number of different things.
Full Blood Count
This will determine your iron levels and whether you might be anaemic. If you are, you will need to take iron suppliments.
It is important to know your blood group incase you require a blood transfusion at any stage during pregnancy or birth.
This test identifies if you are Rhesus positive or Rhesus negative. If a mother is Rhesus negative and her baby is Rhesus postive there is a risk that the baby’s blood can enter the mother’s bloodstream during pregnancy or birth.If this happens, the mother can produce antibodies known as Anti-D antibodies. This does not usually affect the current pregnancy, but if a woman has any subsequent pregnancies and the baby is Rhesus positive, these antibodies can cross the placenta and destroy the baby’s blood cells. To prevent this, all women are offered Anti-D injections following delivery of a Rhesus positive baby.
Rubella Immune Status
Women who are not rubella immune, will be advised to stay away from anyone with German measles and to get the vaccine after delivery.
Testing for HIV antibodies is done routinely in pregnancy because there is treatment available to reduce transmission to the baby.
This is important to know because the baby can be immunised after birth to prevent infection.
This sexually trasmitted infection can lead to miscarriage or stillbirth if left untreated.
These are not routinely done, but if you or partner are from an ethnic background your baby will be tested for sickle cell disease or thalassaemia.
This is the most exciting part of this visit, you finally get a peak at your little pudding. This ultrasound is often called the dating scan because it is used to calculate your delivery date based on babys’ measurements. The baby will be quite tiny at this stage so if your hoping to find out if its a boy or a girl you will have to wait until later in the pregnancy. But you will be able to take away your first picture.
This is the most detailed appointment you will have, so take the oppourtunity to talk to the midwife and ask any questions you might have. You will book to return for your next appoinment, normally four weeks later.