What is Antenatal Care and Where do I get it?

If you are pregnant and are looking into the healthcare available to you from this point onwards, you are looking into antenatal care. This term refers to any and all medical attention you receive during your pregnancy that is to do with the pregnancy.

What does antenatal care involve?

What antenatal care you receive will depend on how far into the pregnancy you are. Generally speaking however, antenatal care is comprised of appointments with either a specialist doctor (an obstetrician) or a midwife (a nurse specially trained in the medicine of pregnancy). These appointments will involve follow up questions that are designed to look monitor the health and development of a growing foetus.

Antenatal care also involves a large element of support from doctors and nursing staff in terms of information provided about healthy habits and practices. Staying healthy by eating all the right things and staying away from potentially harmful substances is one of the most important steps you can take towards a healthy pregnancy.

Antenatal care on the NHS

Once you become pregnant and inform your NHS GP, you will be referred to a specialist department where an obstetrician and midwife will take over your care. Alternatively you can contact a midwife directly and tell them about your pregnancy, and arrange everything from there. Under the NHS you can expect to have a total of 10 appointments throughout the course of your pregnancy, provided this is your first child. If you have had a child previously, then the average is about 7 appointments. This limit is because the NHS must provide this service to a large number of pregnant mums to be, and as such is under pressure to allocate its resources to provide for whole communities.

Appointments with the NHS for your antenatal care can be arranged at your house, local hospital or GP’s surgery, or in a Children’s Centre, however you are likely to need to go to your hospital for ultrasound scans and the like.

Antenatal care from private healthcare providers

You can arrange to receive your antenatal care from private healthcare providers in the UK. If you do opt for the private healthcare route you will have to pay for all your appointments and scans, which can end up being quite costly. The benefit however is that you will receive an expedited service that isn’t limited by the funding and time constraints that the NHS must contend with.

Beyond getting all your antenatal care from private providers, you can in fact opt for individual classes that you feel you need. These are usually priced at around £80-90, and can help prepare you for childbirth or address any other concerns you have about your pregnancy.

Antenatal care, from whichever source, is an important part of your pregnancy, particular if this is your first child. This care is not limited to classes and information for future moths, but involves a wealth of information for fathers about how to best support pregnant mums.

« Pregnancy and Your Body Antenatal Care on the NHS »