Pregnancy and baby

Your antenatal appointments

Can we find out the sex of our baby?

Media last reviewed: 23/04/2012

Next review due: 23/04/2014

You'll have a number of antenatal appointments during your pregnancy, and you'll see a midwife or sometimes an obstetrician (doctor specialising in pregnancy). They will check the health of you and your baby, give you useful information – for example, about a healthy pregnancy diet or antenatal screening – and answer any questions.

This page lists the appointments you'll be offered, and when you should have them. If you're pregnant with your first baby, you'll have more appointments than women who already have children. You can read this whole page or click on the links to go straight to the relevant information.

First contact with midwife or doctor

Eight to 12 weeks: booking appointment

Eight to 14 weeks: dating scan

16 weeks

18-20 weeks: anomaly scan

25 weeks

28 weeks

31 weeks

34 weeks

36 weeks

38 weeks

40 weeks

41 weeks

First contact with midwife or doctor

This is the appointment when you tell your midwife or doctor that you’re pregnant. They should give you information about:

  • folic acid and vitamin D supplements
  • nutrition, diet and food hygiene
  • lifestyle factors, such as smoking, drinking and recreational drug use
  • antenatal screening tests

It’s important to tell your midwife or doctor if: 

  • there were any complications or infections in a previous pregnancy or delivery, such as pre-eclampsia or premature birth
  • you're being treated for a chronic disease such as diabetes or high blood pressure
  • you or anyone in your family has previously had a baby with an abnormality, for example, spina bifida
  • there is a family history of an inherited disease, for example, sickle cell or cystic fibrosis

Eight to 12 weeks: booking appointment

Your midwife or doctor should give you information about: 

  • how the baby develops during pregnancy
  • nutrition and diet
  • exercise and pelvic floor exercises
  • antenatal screening tests
  • your antenatal care
  • breastfeeding, including workshops
  • antenatal education
  • maternity benefits
  • planning your labour
  • your options for where to have your baby

Your midwife or doctor should:

  • give you your hand-held notes and plan of care
  • see if you may need additional care or support
  • plan the care you will get throughout your pregnancy
  • identify any potential risks associated with any work you may do
  • measure your height and weight and calculate your body mass index (BMI)
  • measure your blood pressure and test your urine for protein
  • find out whether you are at increased risk of gestational diabetes or pre-eclampsia
  • offer you screening tests and make sure you understand what is involved before you decide to have any of them
  • offer you an ultrasound scan at eight to 14 weeks to estimate when your baby is due
  • offer you an ultrasound scan at 18-20 weeks to check the physical development of your baby and screen for possible abnormalities

Eight to 14 weeks: dating scan

This is the ultrasound scan to estimate when your baby is due, check the physical development of your baby and screen for possible abnormalities.

16 weeks pregnant

Your midwife or doctor will give you information about the ultrasound scan you will be offered at 18-20 weeks. They will also help with any concerns or questions you have. Your midwife or doctor should: 

  • review, discuss and record the results of any screening tests
  • measure your blood pressure and test your urine for protein
  • consider an iron supplement if you're anaemic

18-20 weeks: anomaly scan

You will have an ultrasound scan to check the physical development of your baby. Remember, the main purpose of this scan is to check that there are no physical abnormalities.

25 weeks pregnant

You will have an appointment at 25 weeks if this is your first baby.

Your midwife or doctor should:

  • check the size of your uterus
  • measure your blood pressure and test your urine for protein

28 weeks

Your midwife or doctor should: 

  • use a tape measure to measure the size of your uterus
  • measure your blood pressure and test your urine for protein
  • offer more screening tests
  • offer your first anti-D treatment if you are rhesus negative

31 weeks

You will have an appointment at 31 weeks if this is your first baby.

Your midwife or doctor should:

  • review, discuss and record the results of any screening tests from the last appointment
  • use a tape measure to measure the size of your uterus
  • measure your blood pressure and test your urine for protein

34 weeks

Your midwife or doctor should give you information about preparing for labour and birth, including how to recognise active labour, ways of coping with pain in labour and your birth plan. Your midwife or doctor should: 

  • review, discuss and record the results of any screening tests from the last appointment
  • use a tape measure to measure the size of your uterus
  • measure your blood pressure and test your urine for protein
  • offer your second anti-D treatment if you are rhesus negative

36 weeks

Your midwife or doctor should give you information about:

  • feeding your baby
  • caring for your newborn baby
  • vitamin K and screening tests for your newborn baby
  • your own health after your baby is born
  • the ‘baby blues’ and postnatal depression

Your midwife or doctor will also:

  • use a tape measure to measure the size of your uterus
  • check the position of your baby
  • measure your blood pressure and test your urine for protein

38 weeks

Your midwife or doctor will discuss the options and choices about what happens if your pregnancy lasts longer than 41 weeks. Your midwife or doctor should: 

  • use a tape measure to measure the size of your uterus
  • measure your blood pressure and test your urine for protein

40 weeks

You will have an appointment at 40 weeks if this is your first baby.

Your midwife or doctor should give you more information about what happens if your pregnancy lasts longer than 41 weeks. Your midwife or doctor should:

  • use a tape measure to measure the size of your uterus
  • measure your blood pressure and test your urine for protein

41 weeks

Your midwife or doctor should:

  • use a tape measure to measure the size of your uterus
  • measure your blood pressure and test your urine for protein
  • offer a membrane sweep
  • discuss the options and choices for induction of labour 

Page last reviewed: 23/08/2012

Next review due: 23/08/2014

Ratings

How helpful is this page?

Average rating

Based on 70 ratings

All ratings

Add your rating

Comments

The 19 comments posted are personal views. Any information they give has not been checked and may not be accurate.

Ellen81 said on 10 April 2014

That's awful sunnyD. So sorry you were treated that way and at such a vulnerable time. I think it's important to be able to feed back about these things if you want to so that the Midwife could be offered further training and development in her role (and in Equal Opportunities!) I don't think it's often made clear, how to go about feeding back or making a complaint.

I think a little care can go a long way at such a crucial time in a woman's life. I think if the country can afford billions for war and rescuing the banks it can afford to offer an eight week scan to those bringing the next generation into the world.

Report this content as offensive or unsuitable

MandaP said on 03 April 2014

I understand that people may want a scan earlier to 'prove' they are pregnant but scans are available for diagnostic purposes not just so we can see our babies. There's no medical reason for it to be standard to have a scan before 12 weeks. The only reason we get offered a 12 weeks scan is because abnormality testing can be done, if the NT test wasn't available, there'd be no medical reason for the NHS to give a 12 weeks scan. The majority of miscarriages are before 12 weeks and these are usually down to foetal abnormalities which cannot be avoided, the medical profession cannot do anything to prevent miscarriage at this stage. Ectopic pregnancies are not symptomless and if you get the symptoms of an ecotopic pregnancy then you will be sent for an early scan. Miscarriages are rarely symptomless and again if you get the symptoms of a miscarriage you should see your doctor and if necessary they will refer you for a scan.
First 12 weeks is a time of waiting and the best thing anyone can do is to eat healthily, stop smoking, reduce alcohol and caffeine intake and take recommended supplements. If you need emotional support then you should contact your practice nurse or midwife depending on the set-up at your GP practice. Children's centres (Surestart) centres also have staff trained to help with the emotional and physical aspects of pregnancy.

Report this content as offensive or unsuitable

HealthyMe said on 05 March 2014

Jessieje - the problem is that if everyone who is 8 weeks pregnant, stressed and worried like you are, expected an early scan the NHS would collapse under the strain. Scans this early tell you very little. Believe me I had an awful time when I had a miscarriage but the care I received was amazing. I went to the EPU after a bleeding a little and they scanned me and told me to come back in a week because even though I was supposedly 6 weeks pregnant, there was only a tiny gestational sack. A week later I was scanned again and there was nothing, but my hormones were high so I had to go back again a week later. A week later there was an embryo although we couldn't tell if it was viable so I then had to go back again a week later. The next week unfortunately the embryo hadn't grown so I ended up having a D&C. All very traumatic, but the signs were there that I needed the extra care.

When I got pregnant again, I started spotting brown at 5 and a half weeks. Once again very traumatic, and reason to call on the NHS. I actually refused to go for an early scan at this point because my previous experience had shown me that when it is that early there isn't anything that can be said, you just have to wait. This I did. I did end up paying for a private scan at 9 weeks for my own piece of mind, although I quite feasibly could have gone back to the EPU given the spotting, I just honestly couldn't bear the thought of going back there. Believe me it's not somewhere I would want to hang out given the bad memories. Luckily everything was fine and I'm now five months pregnant with my first child.

I'm sorry you have had a bad experience with your midwife, but my point is that the care is there if you need it but it can't be an expectation that the NHS should offer a service that is ultimately of no benefit other than to give a snapshot that at that time everything is ok when in reality in early pregnancy it can all unfortunately change very quickly. Relax is my advice!

Report this content as offensive or unsuitable

jessieje said on 28 February 2014

Funny enough, I find HealthyMe's comments the ones that are ridiculous.

It's true that a scan might not be what's required in the first trimester medically, but if it's your first baby, and all you've got so far is a test kit that says you are pregnant, dramatic changes to your body due to hormones, lack of appetite, constant nausea attacks no matter when, is it really fair to say just bear with it and google can adequately support all your mental and emotional needs?

Even you yourself said the first trimester is the most vulnerable period for the babies when most miscarriages occur. Does that not deserve a bit more attention and care from the medical practitioners?

It's only natural a woman wants what's best for her baby and people should respect that. For one thing I'd really want a scan now that I'm 8 weeks just to ensure everything is where it should be and rule out stuff like ectopic pregnancy etc. But no, I had to wait for 4 days before I can see my GP, whose referral to hospital then got mysteriously lost, and after 2 weeks' wait, I'm back to ground zero.

Now if I'm lucky, I probably will finally get to see MW for the first time after week 11. That means I won't get any sort of clarity or confirmation about my pregnancy during all this wait. It's just not right to sit in complete darkness while your body is going through so much and you are facing one of the events that's going to change your whole life. This really shouldn't be what a first time mum has to go through.

Report this content as offensive or unsuitable

sunnyD said on 19 February 2014

I am extremely disappointed from my firs appointment! I was not given any information about nutrition and food suppliments by the nurse i was sent to! I wasn't recommended any frolic acid or whatever. No Healthy lifestyle advice given!! I was nothing but judged by the nurse , because when I was asked how I feel, I said , I am good and I am happy, but the pregnancy was unexpected so I did panic at the beginning and i went trough a bit of a stage which I blame the hormonal changes for! Though I got accused by her , of being emotionally unstable, and I was advised to seriously think if should keep the baby !! Because apparently "women like me " ( I don't know whether that was addressed to emotionally unstable me, foreigner me, or not in a legal yet relationship me..I think all of the above! ) , so women like me ...end up not being capable of managing, and end up abandoning their babies! Then I was asked if was legally in the country ..OMG! I had no idea NHS registers illegal emigrants....!?!? Well here is what I got to say, I am a well respected woman coming from a good family, been running successful business and paying taxes since i live in the UK . I believe that pregnancy is a miracle , not an accident. And I am not at all happy about the judgemental attitude and unhelpful service I was given. I do not blame the system though. I have previously had great NHS experience, and I believe and hope my second appointment with a Midwife will be helpful, and I will be treated with a bit more respect!

Report this content as offensive or unsuitable

HealthyMe said on 30 January 2014

A lot of the views below are ridiculous especially regarding getting scanned before 12 weeks. In reality there isn't really much point doing anything before 10 weeks because the risk of miscarriage is high. I unfortunately suffered a rather drawn out miscarraiage with my first pregnancy which meant I was backwards and forwards to the EPU weekly for four weeks whilst we waited to see what happens, there is no problem getting scans if there is a problem. From that experience I can assure you that at 6/7/8 weeks pregnant there is not an awful lot they can tell you other than, there is a heartbeat and it matches your dates. This still doesn't mean that you wont miscarry so why waste money scanning people early? At the 12 week point, if everything looks ok then it is incredibly likely that you will go on to have a successful pregnancy. It seems to me that this is the most cost efficient solution.

I also dispute the people moaning about not having contact with a midwife until 10 weeks. What exactly do you want the midwife to tell you, there is nothing to tell except general care, which to be honest most people will have already googled already! Unfortunately the first trimester is a waiting game, which believe me once you have had a miscarriage is incredibly torturous, but that is pregnancy!

I'm lucky enough to be pregnant again and to have been allocated a caseload midwife on the NHS, which really is premium care as I have an allocated midwife for all of my appointments and the birth. I have zero desire to see a doctor as I have no need to see a doctor. I trust the midwife care that I am getting and even if I wasn't so lucky as to have a caseload midwife I am sure the care would be just as good.

I think people should be grateful for what they are getting because I am quite sure that for the majority of people complaining, the tax you have paid in your lifetime will not come close to the cost of the top-rate care you are recieving. Be grateful, not bitter.

Report this content as offensive or unsuitable

joananicol said on 21 January 2014

From reading other comments here, it seems that the care varies in different parts of the UK. I did get a GP appointment in a couple of days after I rang and said I was pregnant, then the GP referred me to the midwife and I received a letter with a midwife appointment at 8 weeks. The midwife will probably book my 12 week scan, as it happened during my first pregnancy. So far so good. I live in Bushey just outside London.

Report this content as offensive or unsuitable

Avosilmin said on 17 January 2014

To sash37:
To be honest, I don't see any reason to call NHS antenatal care ridiculous. I always got all the informations I asked for.
You and me should have the same experience as we both experienced the NHS health service and the Czech (in my case) and Slovak health service. In Czech rep. you are provided with all the high-tech examinations, scans etc., but doctors don't treat you with respect, they take you just as a 'case', not an equal human being, because they are doctors and they know the best and you are just a dumb patient. I have a dismal experience with Czech antenatal care as the medical staff didn't listen to me, they didn't give me enough informations of the course of actions and after I went through a miscarriage there was nobody who would at least give a try to express sympathy for the loss of my baby. I was just another case.
I prefer being treated with respect over having the first antenatal scan a few weeks earlier.

Report this content as offensive or unsuitable

Avosilmin said on 17 January 2014

To sash37:
To be honest, I don't see any reason to call NHS antenatal care ridiculous. I always got all the informations I asked for.
You and me should have the same experience as we both experienced the NHS health service and the Czech (in my case) and Slovak health service. In Czech rep. you are provided with all the high-tech examinations, scans etc., but doctors don't treat you with respect, they take you just as a 'case', not an equal human being, because they are doctors and they know the best and you are just a dumb patient. I have a dismal experience with Czech antenatal care as the medical staff didn't listen to me, they didn't give me enough informations of the course of actions and after I went through a miscarriage there was nobody who would at least give a try to express sympathy for the loss of my baby. I was just another case.
I prefer being treated with respect over having the first antenatal scan a few weeks earlier.

Report this content as offensive or unsuitable

kikaymimi said on 16 January 2014

Hello , Can anyone tell me what happens at the 38 week appointment ? Do u get your cervix checked if your open or not ? Thank you

Report this content as offensive or unsuitable

Mand9 said on 09 January 2014

I have read with interest some of the comments below. I think for the people who have had bad experiences (particularly the last comment) it is very unfair to say that antenatal care in the whole of this country is poor. My last pregnancy (which was my first) unfortunately ended in a miscarriage, and I can honestly say that the care I received was excellent. From the midwife, to the early pregnancy unit, to the staff at the hospital (when I had the ERPC). I even had my own room at the hospital when I was waiting for the ERPC due to the circumstances, which I found to be very respectful and considerate. I am now expecting again and the day I rang up my local GP at 5 weeks pregnant to book an appt with the midwife, I was offered one the same day. I did not have to wait several weeks as some people have commented here. Also, just to put the last comment straight, the reason that a pregnancy is not proved via the GP initially is because of the high accuracy of home pregnancy tests these days. I am certainly not ashamed of our NHS health service, which by the way is a free service, and think people should be a bit more grateful that it is free and that we don't have to pay ridiculous amounts of money like some other countries when we need medical care.

Report this content as offensive or unsuitable

sash37 said on 08 December 2013

I only have one thing to say. Your health services especially your antenatal care is ridiculous!!! Unprofessional doctors who seem to barely have studied medicine for a year....seriously, many times I have the feeling that I know more...not to mention the antenatal care- the first trimester I don't see anyone, I don't even have my pregnancy proved which is simply stupid....I am from Slovakia which English people may address as a poor country, but go there and see the difference!!! in there, the first scan is around 5-6 weeks and guess what! the doctors can beautifully see the baby and the patient doesn't need to have full bladder or anything (I actually didn't even have a clue that a doctor would need a full bladder for an ultrasound to see something...) so I think that Britain should really be ashamed for their poor health services, they are the worst I have ever experienced!!! I am 6 weeks pregnant and I need to wait another 6 weeks to at least see midwife, until then I can only guess if my pregnancy is going well as I am first time pregnant....if I would at least get the contact for my midwife so that I could call her if I had any questions, but no, God forbid that someone would care during the first trimester....if I wouldn't have to wait for my degree to end in the may, trust me I would be on the plane on the way home right now!

Report this content as offensive or unsuitable

gracious1 said on 18 October 2013

i would agree that trying to get hold of my midwife is near impossible, I'm very lucky to have nurses and midwives as friends and family so personally i actually feel the amount of appointments i have is completely over the top and get very bored hearing everything i already know over and over again...appreciated not all first time mums have such knowledgeable support so just a thought my midwife having her phone on would be useful so if i did actually feel unwell and have a problem i could contact her instead of making useless appointments during my working day to chat about nothing for 30 minutes or so just to take sum bloods or urine which i coincidentally only want to know about if theres something wrong!

Report this content as offensive or unsuitable

blarneyblue said on 30 August 2013

I've been told by Drs surgery io can register for the midwife myself online, I cant find any link to do so, anyone any ideas?

Report this content as offensive or unsuitable

Victoria_82 said on 25 June 2013

Is it normal to have a different midwife at each appointment? I am a first time mum so it is a little unnerving already and as with most women, trying to manage being pregnant with my job. My most recent appointment (3rd one) was over an hour late; she didn't note from my records that I needed extra scans due to a low-lying placenta. I had some questions that I wanted to ask, but I was so flustered and stressed about being so late for work that I was in and out in less than 10 minutes, didn't ask anything. I'm going for more blood tests, but have no idea what for! I just feel the care is a little inconsistent and not what I expected. Am I being too niave or misunderstood something? Websites have been more helpful and reassuring than the service received to date.

Report this content as offensive or unsuitable

Nimmy7 said on 05 June 2013

I hope all you ladies have had your questions answered by now.I'm now 38 weeks and got my check up today, only came across this sight whilst looking online to see what to expect as was not sure if a normal check up or if they do any checks to see if my cervix is open yet. My due date is 16th June so getting close. This is my first and it is very scary as alot of stuff you do just have to find out yourself. I can highly recommend the book 'what to expect when ur expecting' was very helpfull, it goes into alot of details, has alot of questions answered and also breaks it down month by month.
Also the phone app 'baby centre' is brill, everything I have ever wondered about I have found the answer within this app and it gives you a weekly breakdown of what u should expect, whats going on with you each week, what symptoms you may experience and what is happening to baby that week. Even tells you what size your baby is the equivelent of size wise, all the way from early on being something like a raspberry to mine now at the length of a leek!!
Well happy healthy pregnancies everyone and hope my recommendations might help afew people.

Report this content as offensive or unsuitable

clarem13 said on 04 June 2013

hey ladies, to be fair the midwives dont really have much contact with you until your 12 weeks! i was seen from 4-6 weeks every week at my local hospital coz we had complications. but basically everything you need to know you can get off these sites. foods to avoid are caffeine (no more then 2 cups of coffee/tea a day), liver and liver pate (due to high vitamin a which can damage your baby), shellfish, sword fish uncooked eggs, no more then 2 portions of tuna a week (again due to high amounts of mercury) dont have really hot baths that sort of burn you as this can also harm your baby! when lifting bend with knees and avoid strenuous lifting and stretching. when eating dairy products make sure it is pasturised so ie blue whole milk etc. try to avoid things like homemade mayonaise and colslaw! thats about it really! just use common sense.

Report this content as offensive or unsuitable

Tesss said on 24 May 2013

I agree, I am waiting to hear from my midwife! I phoned my surgery and was told a midwife would ring me back. After a week I rang again only to be told the midwife was nothing to do with them and I should take it up with her!!! How when she won't ring me. If companies ran their businesses like the NHS they would have no trade, to me it's common curtesy to call someone back even if its just to hi, it's ok I don't need to see you for a few weeks. I'm seven weeks now but I had a miscarriage my problems starting at 9 weeks so I'm not filled with confidence with my so called health care provider if I knew who to complain to I would.

Report this content as offensive or unsuitable

Firstbabyonway said on 09 May 2013

I live in suffolk, I'm 8 weeks pregnant with my first baby, when I rang my GPs surgery I was told I don't need to see a GP. An appointment was made for me to see a midwife in mid June, I will be 12 weeks, they say there's nothing before then and I can't get an appointment with a GP for "just pregnancy". How is that helpful. I don't know what I can eat and can't eat, I don't know if I can take paracetamol, I don't know if I can continue with my running and swimming, I have 2 international trips planned in the next 2 months and I don't know if I can travel. I am relying on Internet forums with other mums advice. Having worked solidly for the last 18years and paid into the NHS continually since I was 16yrs, I'm less than impressed with this. My sister lives in London and at 8 weeks, she had a GP appt, a midwife appt and a dating scan, how can the levels of service vary so drastically to the detriment of new mums!

Report this content as offensive or unsuitable

Image alt text

Sign up for emails

Get weekly pregnancy and baby emails, linking to articles and over 100 videos of experts, mums and dads

Services near you

Get help with all aspects of your pregnancy from the NHS in your area

Meet the antenatal team

Find out who's who in the team that provides your antenatal care

Antenatal classes

Find out what's involved in antenatal classes, from exercise and relaxation, to making friends and learning about childbirth

Vitamins and special diets during pregnancy

The essential vitamins and minerals, and how to get enough of them in pregnancy

Foods to avoid in pregnancy

Which foods to take care with in pregnancy. Includes cheeses, eggs, meat, sushi and the latest on nuts

Staying active in pregnancy

Find out the benefits of daily activity in pregnancy to you and your baby, and how to keep as healthy as possible