Throughout your pregnancy you will have a number of antenatal appointments with you midwife. Towards the end of your pregnancy the appointments will be more frequent. It is important that you attend these appointments so that your midwife can keep an eye out for conditions that may affect your pregnancy.
At your first visit the midwife will give you an antenatal booklet which will be updated at every appointment, and in later pregnancy you are supposed to carry it with you at all times in case you go into early labour or have an accident.
The midwife will check your blood pressure, urine, ask how you have been and then measure and plot the growth of your baby.
Your blood pressure will be checked and monitored. It will be written down as two numbers, one on top of the other, for example, 110/80. Your blood pressure will be measured at your first appointment and this figure will be used as your normal level, against which future readings will be compared.
There are three main things that the midwife is looking for in the urine - Ketones, Glucose, and Protein.
Ketones are excreted by your body if you are not eating enough nutrients. You may also have ketones if you have been sick or are exercising excessively.
Glucose may be a sign of diabetes or kidney disease. If you eat something sweet before you do your sample then glucose may be detected in your urine.
Protein may be a sign of infection, but may also be a sign of hypertensive problems in pregnancy such as Pre-Eclampsia.
If albumin or ketones are detected in your urine, the quantity is recorded with plus signs. These have the following meanings: one plus sign means a trace, two plus signs means more than a trace and three plus signs means a significant amount and Tr means a small trace has been found. A tick, nil or NAD all mean the same that nothing abnormal was found.
The midwife will feel your tummy and measure it with a tape measure. As a guide from the pubic bone to the fundus which is the top of the uterus and it should measure in cm equal to what your dates are. For example if you are 25 weeks in theory you should measure 25cm's. This will check just how your baby is growing. This measurement is subjective and can depend on factors like how your baby is lying, the size of the Mother, the size of the baby, if you have more or less amniotic fluid than normal.
If your midwife is concerned about the growth of your baby you will be referred for an ultrasound scan. She may also listen to your baby using a sonic-aid and ask you about how often your baby is moving around. The following may be recorded in your book FHH or H - fetal heart heard, FHNH - fetal heart not heard - this isn't necessarily anything to worry about, FMF - fetal movements have been felt.
The midwife will record which way up your baby is lying. At about 20 weeks 60% of babies are head down, 28 weeks 85% are head down, 34 weeks 94% are head down and at 40 weeks 97% are head down.
Antenatal appointments are important to attend as they keep a check on your baby's and your wellbeing.
Once you have a midwife assigned to you for your pregnancy you are usually provided with a number that you can call if you experience any problems or are unsure of any condition that might develop between antenatal appointments. Don't feel embarrassed to call or use this number if you feel there is a problem that is what the midwife is there for, to help you and guide you through your pregnancy.