Antenatal care

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    Having regular antenatal care is important for your health and the health of your unborn baby. However, sometimes antenatal appointments can seem quite an effort. If the clinic is busy or short-staffed you may have to wait a long time and, if you have children with you this can be very exhausting and off-putting.

    Try to plan ahead to make your appointments easier and come prepared to wait.
    In some clinics you can buy refreshments. If not, take a snack with you if you’re likely to get hungry.
    Write a list of any questions you want to ask and take it with you to remind you. Make sure you get answers to your questions or the opportunity to discus any worries. Sometimes this can take quite a lot of determination.

    Your partner may be able to go with you. He’ll be able to support you in discussing any worries or in finding out what you need to know. It will also help him feel more involved in your pregnancy. In some instances he may be asked to have a blood test for inherited conditions such as sickle cell or thalassaemia.

    If you regularly wait for long periods of time at your clinic, bring this to the attention of the hospital or clinic manager. They have a responsibility to ensure that the commitments are met.

    At your first antenatal visit, your doctor or midwife will enter your details into a record book and add to them each time you visit. You will need to look after these notes and bring them each visit.

    Antenatal classes can help you to prepare you for your baby’s arrival plus looking after and feeding your baby. They can also help you keep fit, these are often called parentcraft classes and may cover relaxation and breathing, as well as exercise. These classes are a good thing as you get to meet other parents and chat about things that may be worrying you.

    Many classes start 8-10 weeks before your baby’s due date and are usually held once a week. Topics catered for include:

    * health in pregnancy
    * what happens during labour and birth
    * coping with labour with information on pain relief
    * exercises to keep you fit
    * relaxation
    * caring for your baby including feeding

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