What is pregnancy (antenatal) care?
This is the care you have while you're pregnant to make sure you and your baby are as well as possible.
The NHS offers all pregnant women in England:
- 10 pregnancy appointments (7 if you've had a child before) to check the health and development of you and your baby
- screening tests to find out the chance of your baby having certain conditions, such as Down's syndrome
- blood tests to check for syphilis, HIV and hepatitis B
- screening for inherited blood disorders (sickle cell and thalassaemia)
You'll be offered more appointments if you or your baby need them.
Depending on your health and where you live, you may see:
- a midwife for all your appointments
- a midwife for some appointments and a GP for others
Find out more about pregnancy (antenatal) care.
How do I start my pregnancy care?
As soon as you find out you're pregnant you can book an appointment with:
Your first midwife appointment
This appointment lasts around an hour.
Your midwife will ask questions to make sure you get the care that's right for you.
They will ask about:
- where you live and who you live with
- your partner, if you have one
- the baby's father
- any other pregnancies or children
- smoking, alcohol and drug use
- your physical and mental health, and any issues or treatment you've had in the past
- any health issues in your family
- your job, if you have one
Find out more about what happens at your first midwife appointment.
When and where will my appointments be?
Find out more about when you'll have your antenatal appointments.
Your appointments can take place at:
- your home
- a Children's Centre
- a GP surgery
- a hospital
You'll usually go to the hospital for your pregnancy scans.
What can I do now for me and my baby?
It's important not to miss any of your antenatal appointments. Some of the tests and measurements that can find possible problems have to be done at specific times.
There are also things you can do to keep you and your baby as healthy as possible in pregnancy, including:
- not smoking
- not drinking alcohol
- getting some exercise that's safe in pregnancy
- having a healthy pregnancy diet
- knowing which foods to avoid in pregnancy
- taking a folic acid supplement and thinking about taking a vitamin D supplement
- knowing how to avoid infections that may harm your unborn baby, and symptoms to look out for
- having the flu vaccination
- knowing about baby movements in pregnancy
- knowing how to cope with feelings, worries and relationships in pregnancy
What if I have a health condition?
If you have a health condition, for example diabetes or asthma, these can affect your pregnancy. Pregnancy can also affect any conditions you have.
Don't stop taking your medicine until you've talked with your doctor.