Please ask your midwife of there is anything you don't understand or are not sure of.
At each antenatal visit your midwife or doctor will check you and your baby’s well-being. You will be given appropriate information in order to make decisions about your place of birth and type of care you choose during pregnancy. You will also receive information on diet and lifestyle and you will be given information and the opportunity to discuss screening tests that are available during pregnancy with a health professional. You will be asked for information regarding your health, previous pregnancies and family medical history. You will also be asked about various social issues including domestic abuse.
Blood Pressure (BP)
At each antenatal visit your blood pressure will be checked to detect pregnancy-induced hypertension or pre-eclampsia.
You will be asked for a urine sample which will be tested, this can give the community midwife information on diabetes, infection and pre-eclampsia.
From 25 weeks your midwife or doctor will check on your baby’s growth. To do this they measure the distance from the fundus (top of the uterus) to the symphysis pubis (top of the pubic bone) with a centimetre tape. This is called the symphysis-fundal height measurement (SFH), which is recorded in the notes and on a growth chart.
Presentation & engagement (cephalic or breech)
Presentation and engagement describe the way your baby lies. Presentation may be cephalic (CEPH, also called vertex = Vx), which means baby’s head is entering the pelvis first or breech, which means baby’s bottom or feet are coming first.
Engagement is how much the presenting part has not descended into the pelvis and is usually written in ‘fifths’, e.g. 2/5ths.
Fetal movements (FM/FMF)
You will usually start feeling some movements between 16 and 22 weeks. Your baby’s movements are an important sign of your baby’s well-being. It is important that you are aware of your own baby’s activity.
If you feel your baby’s movements have decreased or changed at any time after 24 weeks of pregnancy you should contact your midwife or the hospital where you are planning to birth.
Fetal heart (FH or FHHR - fetal heart heard and regular)
Your midwife or doctor may be able to listen to your baby’s heart with either a pinnard stethoscope (ear trumpet) or a hand-held listening device and will record the rate of your baby’s heartbeat.
Spontaneous rupture of membranes (SRM)
Your waters break. This is known as spontaneous rupture of the membranes (SRM). It is a gush, leak or trickle of amniotic fluid (fluid that surrounds your baby in your womb). You are advised to contact your midwife or maternity unit should you experience this.
Vaginal birth after caesarean (VBAC)
VBAC stands for vaginal birth after caesarean. It is the term used when a woman gives birth vaginally, having had a caesarean birth in the past.
When to contact your midwife or GP
Most pregnancy symptoms are normal. However, it is important to be aware that certain symptoms might suggest the possibility of pregnancy complications.
Contact your midwife or GP for advice if any of these occur:
- Pain on passing urine
- Smelly vaginal discharge
- Your baby’s movements change or reduce
- Membranes (‘waters’) breaking early
- Vaginal bleeding
- Abdominal (‘stomach’) pains
- Persistent itching
- Severe headaches
- Blurred vision
For more information visit www.nhs.uk/conditions/pregnancy-and-baby/pages/antenatal-midwife-care-pregnant