In this side view of a fetus, the right ear and eye are just visible and the right hand and leg can be seen in characteristicallly bent positions. The reddish, tube-like structure, to the right of the image, is the umbilical cord.
A midwife starts to compile your pregnancy notes at your booking-in appointment, your most comprehensive visit with her.
You should have your booking-in appointment around now, and will meet one of the midwives who will be handling your care. The exact timing of this appointment will vary depending on where your antenatal care is taking place. Unless you have opted for an independent midwife, your antenatal team is likely to consist of several midwives and doctors who will look after you throughout pregnancy.
The purpose of this appointment is for a midwife to obtain your medical history, provide information, advise you on diet and exercise, and plan your care. It’s also a chance for you to ask any questions you may have and discuss the schedule for appointments, blood tests, scans, and antenatal classes. You will be given booklets, information leaflets, and important contact telephone numbers. The midwife will ask you about your medical history; your family’s medical history; your partner and your partner’s family’s medical history; about any previous pregnancies you have had; and how this pregnancy has been so far.
Your answers will help the midwife identify factors that may affect your pregnancy – if there is a family history of pre-eclampsia, for example. The midwife will also do some health checks, such as urine tests, at this and other antenatal appointments.
At your antenatal appointments you will undergo routine checks, including having your blood pressure taken. It’s the midwife’s job to look after your health throughout pregnancy.
Midwife comes from the anglo-saxon word “mit wif”, meaning “with woman”.
A midwife’s role is to respect the ability of a woman to give birth independently, and to intervene only when it is essential to do so.
How should I decide which tests I want?
Your midwife will give you lots of information regarding tests and it is up to you to decide whether you want them. There are two different types: screening tests and diagnostic tests. The aim of screening tests is to work out the risk of there being a problem – based on the result, you may be advised to have a follow-up diagnostic test.
Most women opt to have the screening tests, but it’s worth considering how far you would continue with the process. For example, if you had a high-risk result from the screening test, would you opt to have a diagnostic test? If you did, and the results of that were positive, would you want to continue with the pregnancy?
Such considerations are difficult but important. For example, if you know that, no matter what, you and your partner would want to continue with the pregnancy then you may decide not to have a test, or decide to have the test so that you can prepare yourself for a baby with potential problems.
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