Antenatal visits check the wellbeing of you and your baby during pregnancy. Antenatal care throughout your pregnancy is likely to positively affect the health of you and your baby.
Your first antenatal care appointment is an important one. During your visit, your doctor or midwife will:
- confirm your pregnancy
- check your health
- give you some information that you will need in the months ahead
You will also be able to talk about the type of care you want during your pregnancy.
When should I make my first appointment?
It’s best to have your first antenatal visit before 10 weeks into your pregnancy. Ideally this will happen when you are about 6 to 8 weeks pregnant. This is because there are lots of things to learn about. Also, some tests are recommended early in your pregnancy.
Your first appointment may be with a midwife or your doctor. It may be at a clinic or hospital — you can choose.
What does an antenatal visit involve?
Taking your medical history
During the visit, your doctor or midwife will ask about your health. This includes finding out about:
- any prior pregnancies
- any illnesses or operations you’ve had
- what medicines you’re taking, including those from a pharmacy or supermarket
- if you have any current health problems
- if you are allergic to any medicines
Your doctor or midwife will ask you if you:
- drink alcohol
- take recreational drugs
- are stressed
- have any signs of depression or anxiety
- about the support you may get from people at home and work
These questions aren’t to judge you. The more your doctor or midwife knows about you, the better they can support you during your pregnancy.
It’s up to you whether you answer these questions. Anything you say will be kept in confidence.
If you are experiencing family violence you should let them know. It’s important to get professional help and they can support you to do this.
Your family medical history
Finding out about the health of your family is also important because it may affect you or your baby. This includes any family history of:
You may wish to do screening tests for certain genetic conditions. You can talk about this with your doctor or midwife.
What tests will I have?
Your doctor or midwife will check your health and measure your:
- blood pressure
They may suggest a urine (wee) test to see if you have a urinary tract infection (UTI) or any kidney problems.
- infectious diseases — rubella
- sexually transmitted infections (STIs)
- bacteria that may affect your baby — group B streptococcus
- infections that can be passed on through blood-to-blood contact — hepatitis C and HIV
Some STIs that can affect your pregnancy don’t have any symptoms. It’s possible to have an STI and not know.
Find out more about the check-ups, tests and scans you can have during your antenatal visits.
If you have any questions about these tests, ask your midwife or doctor.
Finding out about your baby
Your doctor or midwife will work out how many weeks you have been pregnant. This will let them work out the due date of your baby.
If you’re not sure when your last period was, they may book a dating scan. This is an ultrasound that will help figure out which week of pregnancy you are in.
Tests are available to check for some problems that may affect your baby. You don’t have to have these tests — it’s up to you. Your midwife or doctor will tell you about the tests and how much they will cost.
Discussing your antenatal care options
During your first appointment, your midwife or doctor will give you information about antenatal care. They will talk with you about which model of care you would like for your pregnancy and birth. You'll be able to discuss:
- who will be your main maternity carer
- where you would like to receive your antenatal care
- how many antenatal visits you will have and when
- where you would like to give birth
- where to find local antenatal classes or education sessions
How can I have a healthy pregnancy?
Your midwife or doctor will talk to you about keeping healthy during your pregnancy. They will also ensure you have good support and care.
This may cover:
- help to stop smoking or stop drinking alcohol (if needed)
- advice about healthy eating, exercise and weight gain
- advice on which vitamins and minerals you should take during pregnancy
- referrals to support services if you need them
They will answer questions about any issues that worry or concern you.
If this is your first pregnancy, The Australian Pregnancy Care Guidelines advise you have 10 antenatal care visits. If there are complications with your pregnancy, you may need to have more visits.
If you’ve been pregnant before, The Australian Pregnancy Care Guidelines advise you have 7 antenatal care visits. Again, if you have any complications with your pregnancy, you may need more visits.
Speak to a maternal child health nurse
Call Pregnancy, Birth and Baby to speak to a maternal child health nurse on 1800 882 436 or video call. Available 7am to midnight (AET), 7 days a week.
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Last reviewed: November 2022