Antenatal Clinic in the Shire
Pregnancy care consists of prenatal (before birth) and postpartum (after birth) medical care for expectant mothers and their babies.
It’s very important for the mum and her baby to be looked after from the start of pregnancy until after the birth. Care should include providing support and information, monitoring the health and wellbeing and that of her baby, and identifying special medical or personal needs that may require extra help from a doctor or midwife.
Antenatal care during the pregnancy
Once your pregnancy is confirmed, it’s essential to see your GP as soon as possible so you can schedule the appointments you will need during pregnancy. Appointments during your pregnancy are called your antenatal appointments or antenatal care.
During the pregnancy, you’ll need to schedule regular healthcare appointments throughout each stage of your pregnancy. A schedule of visits may involve seeing your doctor
Antenatal appointments will allow your GP to help both you and your baby stay healthy. Even if your pregnancy is going well and you’re feeling well, it’s important for you to attend your appointments so that any potential risks can be identified and prevented, or reduced.
It’s also a great opportunity to ask any questions you have about your pregnancy You can also get support to help you with your lifestyle, including mental health or dietary advice, or help quitting smoking or avoiding drinking alcohol. You can discuss any problems you might be having at home.
During these visits, your doctor will check your health and the health of your baby.
Your GP might ask about:
Share information about sensitive issues, such as domestic abuse, abortion or past drug use, too. This will help your GP take the best care of you — and your baby.
Your doctor may also perform some tests including
Later visits may also include checking the baby’s position and noting changes in your body as you prepare for birth.
If your pregnancy is considered high risk because of your age or health conditions, you may require more frequent visits and special care. You may also need to see a obstetrician who works with high-risk pregnancies.
Ultrasound during pregnancy
Your doctor will advise you when an ultrasound is recommended. The following ultrasounds are common in pregnancy
8–9 weeks dating scan
some women choose to have an early ultrasound around 8-9 weeks. This ultrasound can confirm the due date where the last menstrual period is unknown, or for reassurance.
11–13 weeks first trimester screen
an ultrasound (also known as a nuchal translucency scan) combined with a blood test (PAPP-A) is recommended for all pregnant women. This is a screening test which will calculate your estimated risk of having a baby with Down Syndrome and other chromosomal abnormalities. It is also commonly used to calculate your estimated due date.
18–20 weeks morphology scan
an important ultrasound to check for major anatomical abnormalities in your baby. This scan can help parents to find out the baby’s gender.
In a normal, low-risk pregnancy, the list above is usually all you will need. Extra ultrasounds beyond this may be recommended for high-risk pregnancies or to check on the baby’s growth and wellbeing.
Diet during pregnancy
Your diet during pregnancy should include adequate amounts of the following:
- fruit and vegetables
- breads and cereals
- dairy foods for calcium
- lean meats, chicken and fish
You don’t have to increase the quantity but you need to eat more variety.
Folic acid is a vitamin found in a variety of foods. It’s recommended you take a folate supplement for two months before you get pregnant and during the first three months of pregnancy, to reduce the risk of spinal problems such as spina bifida in your baby. As well as eating foods rich in folate, a daily supplement containing 500mcg of folic acid is recommended.
If there is a family history of cleft lip, spinal problems or you are taking an anti-epilepsy medication, your GP may recommend a higher dose of folic acid.
Fish is also important for developing your baby’s brain and nervous tissue. One to three serves of fish per week is recommended. There are certain types of fish that should be limited because of their high levels of mercury. Shark (flake), broadbill, marlin and swordfish shouldn’t be eaten more than once per fortnight and orange roughy (sea perch) and catfish, more than once per week. Other fish are safe to eat. Canned tuna is not restricted.
Iodine in pregnancy
Iodine is another nutrient that is important for your baby’s brain development. To ensure adequate iodine either:
- Eat fish one to three times a week, (limit high mercury types) and/or
- Use iodised salt or
- Take a multivitamin for pregnancy that contains iodine.
Vitamin D is mostly made in the skin by the action of sunlight, but a small amount can come from foods like oily fish, egg yolks, margarine and milk. Vitamin D is important for the development of your baby’s bones and teeth and low levels can cause muscle weakness and pain in women. You may be vitamin D deficient, if you:
- have darker skin
- cover most of your body with clothing
- spend most of your time indoors.
Please discuss this with your GP, who may order a vitamin D level on your initial blood test and suggest supplements while you are pregnant and breastfeeding.
Iron is needed to make red blood cells that carry oxygen around the body. During pregnancy you need more iron because the volume of your blood increases and your baby’s blood is also developing.
For an iron rich diet:
- include at least two serves of meat, chicken, fish, legumes or nuts every day
- eat wholegrain breads, cereals and green leafy vegetables regularly.
Some women can’t get enough iron from food, so you may need an iron supplement. Your GP or dietitian can recommend what you will need.
Food safety and hygiene
Listeria and toxoplasmosis are uncommon infections that can be passed onto your unborn baby.
To reduce your risk of listeria:
Listeria is killed by cooking, so make sure that when you reheat food, it is very hot.