So you’ve pee’d on the stick and you’ve got your positive pregnancy test. Congratulations! You’re probably wondering what happens next. First thing to do is call your local GP practice and tell the receptionist that you have a positive pregnancy. They are likely to book you in for your first midwife appointment over the phone. This might be at your local practice but sometimes it’s at your local medical centre or hospital. What actually happens at that first appointment though?
It’s quite the milestone in your pregnancy and can be exciting or scary depending on how you feel. Crucially it’s a chance to meet with a midwife, get to know them, and to start learning about what to expect during your pregnancy and birth.
Here’s what you can expect at your first midwife appointment:
- Your midwife will ask you a lot of questions. They’ll want to know about your medical history, your family’s health history, your lifestyle, and how your pregnancy has been so far. Don’t worry about your second cousin twice removed had a funny shaped uterus, they are mainly interested in your close family history, like your parents or siblings. They’ll also ask about your birth preferences, such as where you want to give birth and who you might want with you at your birth.
- Your midwife will take your blood. This is to check your blood type, rhesus factor, and immunity to certain diseases. They will ask your permission to test for sexually transmitted diseases like HIV, Syphilis and Hepatitis as these can have a negative impact on your pregnancy.
- Your midwife will explain how your appointments will work going forward. You’ll usually have regular appointments throughout your pregnancy, with more frequent appointments towards the end. Your midwife will also talk to you about what to expect at each appointment.
- Your midwife will offer you some screening tests. These tests are optional, but they can help to identify any potential problems with your pregnancy. The most common screening tests offered are:
- Nuchal translucency scan: This is an ultrasound scan that is usually done between 11 and 14 weeks of pregnancy. It can be used to measure the thickness of the fluid at the back of your baby’s neck. A higher-than-normal thickness can be a sign of Down syndrome or other chromosomal abnormalities.
- Combined test: This blood test is usually done between 11 and 14 weeks of pregnancy. It measures the levels of two hormones in your blood, as well as the thickness of the fluid at the back of your baby’s neck. The combined test can be used to calculate your risk of having a baby with Down syndrome or other chromosomal abnormalities.
- Quadruple test: This blood test is usually done between 15 and 20 weeks of pregnancy. It measures the levels of four hormones in your blood. The quadruple test can be used to calculate your risk of having a baby with Down syndrome, Edwards syndrome, or Patau syndrome. You can, of course decline any of these tests and it’s important to think through all the pros and cons of having the tests and ask if there are any risks associated with them.
- Your midwife will talk to you about what to expect in early pregnancy such as how you are likely to feel. Some cramping in early labour is very normal as your uterus begins to expand. They might also talk about when you might expect to feel your baby move for the first time.
- Your midwife will work out the estimated date your baby is likely to arrive, also known as your estimated due date or EDD. It’s calculated based on the first day of your last menstrual period but they will explain that you will have an ultrasound scan to more accurately predict this date. All dates should be taken with a pinch of salt as only 5% of babies arrive on their estimated due dates!
In addition to these things, your midwife will likely:
- Test your urine for protein, sugar and any signs of infection.
- Talk to you about your diet and exercise. They’ll make sure you’re eating a healthy diet and avoiding certain foods which are bad during pregnancy. A really good midwife will suggest gentle stretches too so that your pelvis can begin to get nice and flexible for birth.
- Give you information about childbirth classes, like hypnobirthing and other resources available to you like doula support.
- Answer any questions you have about your pregnancy.
Finally, here are a few tips to remember for your first midwife appointment:
- Bring a list of questions you want to ask.
- Bring a partner, friend or doula with you for support.
- Bring a notebook and pen to take notes.
- Be prepared to answer a lot of questions about your medical history, family history, and lifestyle.
- Be open and honest with your midwife about your concerns.
- Remember that your midwife is there to support you throughout your pregnancy and birth.