What is antenatal care?
Antenatal care is the care you receive from healthcare professionals during your pregnancy. You'll be offered a series of appointments with a doctor who specialises in pregnancy and birth (an obstetrician).
They will check that you and your baby are well, give you useful information to help you have a healthy pregnancy (including healthy eating and exercise advice) and answer any questions you may have. You will also be offered antenatal classes, including breastfeeding workshops. You need to book antenatal classes in advance, so ask your midwife about when you should book classes in your area.
If you're expecting your first child, you'll have up to 10 antenatal appointments. If you've had a baby before, you'll have around seven antenatal appointments. Under certain circumstances, for example if you develop a medical condition, you may have more.
Early in your pregnancy, your midwife or doctor will give you written information about how many appointments you're likely to have and when they'll happen. You should have a chance to discuss the schedule with them. If you can't keep an antenatal appointment, let the clinic or midwife know and make another appointment.
Your appointments can take place at your home, in a Children's Centre, in your GP surgery or in hospital. You will usually go to the hospital for your scans. Your antenatal appointments should take place in a setting where you feel able to discuss sensitive issues that may affect you, such as domestic violence, sexual abuse, mental illness or drugs.