The booking-in appointment is your first formal pregnancy care appointment, and is usually also the time of your registering for care with a particular care provider.
The booking-in appointment provides you and your midwife with valuable information that will be useful in planning your care. The booking appointment books you in (registers you) for maternity care with your midwife.
Women booking for care through this service can book-in any time from 4 weeks, ie as soon as they have a positive home pregnancy test . Women booking with a private obstetrician typically booked between 8 and 10 weeks, while women booking-in to the public system generally do so between 12 and 20 weeks, depending on the hospital policy.
Ideally, your booking-in appointment should take place as soon as possible, 1) so that you can be assured of a booking and relax into your chosen model of care, and 2) so that you can work with your midwife on preventative measures to keep your pregnancy and baby healthy. Early pregnancy is a time of laying the foundations of a healthy pregnancy and baby, leading to a healthy and normal birth.
What to expect?
The date of your last period and the length of your cycles. This will help your midwife work out your due date. Don’t be surprised to find that the estimated due date that your midwife gives you, is different to the one you might have found online: this is because your midwife will be taking into account many more factors than just the date of your past period. Your midwife may also offer you a dating scan, even if you’re certain of the date of your past period. Research has shown that when we use a due date generated by an early pregnancy scan, we tend to see fewer inductions for pregnancies that have progressed beyond 41 weeks, compared to if we used menstrual dating.
Previous miscarriages, terminations and births. This is to establish your obstetric history and plan your ongoing care.
Your health history. This is to help your midwife to identify any health issues that may cause a problem in your pregnancy, or any health issues that your pregnancy may impact.
Your family history. This is because certain screening tests are available for genetic conditions and you may wish to avail yourself of these.
Personal questions. Your midwife will be interested in you holistically, and this includes emotional and psychological health issues. Your midwife will ask you about a history of abuse, previous negative medical / hospital experienced, depression, anxiety and so on. She will also ask if there is any history of domestic violence.
Your occupation: your midwife will ask what type of work you do in order to identify any work factors that may create a risk in your pregnancy.
Where you want to have your baby: private midwives generally offer a choice of birth place, including home and hospital. It’s perfectly ok to be undecided in the booking appointment.
Tests: your midwife will arrange for you to have some blood tests at the start of your pregnancy to test for rubella, your blood group, hepatitis B, full blood count, a urine test, syphilis and perhaps some other tests if they are needed. Your midwife will explain each test to you and seek your consent before ordering them.
Melissa Maimann is an endorsed eligible midwife in private practice in Sydney. One of the first eligible midwives in Australia, Melissa now offers a range of care options for women including private midwifery care, antenatal shared care and birth support. Visit Melissa's website to learn more about her services.