Your booking appointment
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Your booking appointment
The first appointment you have with a midwife, when you’re around 8 to 12 weeks pregnant, gets you booked in for maternity care provided by a particular hospital or NHS Trust.
- What happens at the booking appointment?
- When will I have my booking appointment?
- How long will the booking appointment take?
- How to prepare for your booking appointment
- Coronavirus update
How do I book my maternity care?
Finding out you’re pregnant is both exciting and scary, and it can be tricky to know what to do next. As a first step, you should contact the NHS to register your pregnancy and begin your antenatal care.
If you know of a local hospital or birth centre where you might like to have your maternity care and give birth, you can contact the midwives there directly. Otherwise, you can go through your GP or Children’s Centre.
Next, you’ll be given a time for your booking appointment – your first meeting with a midwife – which usually takes place when you’re around 8 to 12 weeks pregnant.
At the booking appointment, your midwife will want to get an overview of your health and medical history to plan your maternity care.
They’ll ask you questions about:
- your physical and mental health, including any pre-existing medical conditions you have and medication you’re taking
- your family’s medical history and any genetic conditions you’re aware of
- the health and medical history of the baby’s father
- both parents’ ethnic origin
- your current lifestyle, including diet and exercise
- your job and plans for working during pregnancy
- how you’re feeling at this stage in the pregnancy – both physically and emotionally
- any previous pregnancies and births, including miscarriages
- the date of your last period.
Your midwife will also do a few routine checks, some of which will be repeated at later antenatal appointments. They will:
- measure your blood pressure
- take a blood test
- test a urine sample
- take weight and height measurements, to calculate your BMI.
All the information gathered during your booking appointment will help medical staff to identify any factors which may put you at increased risk of complications during pregnancy or birth. This means they can provide you with the right maternity care and support throughout your pregnancy.
Your midwife will also calculate your estimated due date, based on the date of your last period. This will be further confirmed by a dating scan between weeks 10 to 14.
Choosing where to give birth
Don’t worry if it sounds daunting to think about where to give birth so early on in your pregnancy. You can still change your mind later on if you decide that you would like to have your baby somewhere else that better suits your needs and preferences.
If you don’t yet know where you would like to have your baby, use our Where to give birth tool to explore the different options.
Your maternity notes
Your midwife will make notes about your health, family history and preferences for the birth in a booklet, known as your maternity notes.
At the end of the appointment, you’ll be given the booklet, containing your own timeline of antenatal appointments and details of who to call if you have any questions or concerns in between appointments.
Ideally, the booking appointment should take place by week 10 of pregnancy, so there’s plenty of time to fit in your first ultrasound scan and any other recommended screening tests before the end of the first trimester.
The appointment probably won’t be much earlier than eight weeks, as the risk of miscarriage is higher before this point. If you haven’t booked in with the NHS until 12 weeks or later, you should have your booking appointment as soon as possible.
The booking appointment may take up to an hour, as there’s a lot to cover during this first visit. In some places, this will be split into two shorter sessions – you’ll be told what to expect when you register your pregnancy and the appointment is scheduled.
If you have your booking appointment at a local hospital, you may have a dating scan at the same time. Otherwise, this will take place during the next few weeks and you should be able to book a time with your midwife during this appointment.
As well as going in with an idea of what your midwife will want to discuss at this first meeting, it’s good to spend some time before the appointment thinking about any questions you’d like to ask.
To help you prepare:
- Work out the date of your last period.
- Make notes of the medical information you may need, including anything you know about your family history and details of any medication you’re taking.
- Write down any questions you’d like to ask the midwife.
- If you’ve been asked to bring along a urine sample, do this shortly before your appointment.
- Wear a sleeveless or loose-fitting top, so the midwife can easily take your blood pressure.
- Bring a pen and paper to write down anything you want to remember or check after the appointment.
You might like your partner or a friend with you for support, and they can also help to take notes or remember things for you.
However, the midwife will be asking you some personal questions, so they may ask anyone else to leave the room at certain points during the appointment.
Anything discussed with your midwife is completely confidential. See our guide on how to speak to your midwife about any problems or concerns you have.
Questions to ask the midwife at your booking appointment
Your booking appointment is the perfect time to raise questions or voice any worries you’ve been having in the early weeks of pregnancy.
Your midwife can offer advice on everything, from what foods to avoid or how to cope with pregnancy symptoms, to finding mental health support services or giving up smoking.
You might like to ask:
- What medication is it safe to take during pregnancy?
- What vitamin supplements should I be taking?
- Can I continue to exercise when I’m pregnant?
- Where can I find local antenatal classes?
- Who can I speak to about mental health concerns?
If it’s not brought up during the appointment, you should also ask your midwife for:
- A maternity exemption certificate, which you can use to receive free NHS prescriptions and dental care during pregnancy and in your baby’s first year.
- Information about your birth options – you can also use our Where to give birth tool to find the setting best suited to you.
The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists says that attending antenatal care when you are pregnant is essential to ensure the wellbeing of you and your baby.
If you are well and have no complications from past pregnancies and have a routine scan or visit due in the coming days, contact your maternity unit for advice and a plan.
The appointment may well change due to staffing requirements or may even be conducted on the telephone or using videoconference, provided you don’t need any tests or observations.
It could be that the number of antenatal visits you have is reduced but you will be told if this is the case. You shouldn’t make a decision to skip visits unless you’ve first agreed it with your team.
When you attend appointments you are also asked to keep the number of people with you to a minimum and to not bring children with you.
If you are in self-isolation and have an antenatal appointment coming up, you should contact your midwife or antenatal clinic to inform them of your situation.
It’s likely that your routine appointments will be delayed until your isolation period of 7 days ends. If your maternity team advise you that your appointment can’t wait, the necessary arrangements will be made for you to be seen.
If you have suspected or confirmed COVID-19, you should also contact your maternity team and they’ll arrange the right place and time for you to attend your appointments: you should not attend a routine clinic.
With regards to antenatal classes, the NHS is hoping to offer virtual ones. The RCOG suggests contacting your local maternity service to find out how they will support you.
The National Childbirth Trust (NCT) has launched its antenatal classes in a virtual format and will be providing online courses for the foreseeable future.
If you have any concerns about the wellbeing or yourself or your unborn baby during your self-isolation period, contact your midwife or, out of hours, your maternity team for further advice on whether you need to attend hospital or not.
Page last updated 27/03/2020. Please check out Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists for any more recent updates