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Ideally antenatal care should actually commence even before you conceive. This is because how healthy you are both before and during your pregnancy can impact the health of your baby, right through their lifetime. The aim of antenatal care is to globally improve your overall well-being and health, and – of your baby during your pregnancy.

For example, many of us may have habits that we should ideally change before becoming pregnant, such as smoking, drinking alcohol or using drugs, either recreational or prescription.

There are many aspects of our lives that affect our well being, along with the obvious physical ones, such as our nutrition,  weight, fitness and if we have any pre-existing health conditions. Our daily lives often include a significant relationship and perhaps a job as well. So if one or both of these areas are causing stress, or are notably problematic, this has a palpable knock-on effect on health and well-being.

Plenty of women end up questioning if it is a good time to become pregnant, due to considerations such as work, relationship, finances and others. Naturally this is a very personal question and only really one that you can answer for yourself. Along with that hugely important question, there are also a few more to take into account.

Antenatal care questions to consider:

  1. How is my physical health?
  2. How is my mental health?
  3. Do I have any genetic conditions which need further medical exploration?
  4. Am I taking any medication which needs to be reviewed by my doctor?
  5. Do I have any habits that I need to change, such as drinking, smoking or taking recreational drugs that I may need help to stop before becoming pregnant?
  6. Are there any considerations linked to my previous pregnancy/pregnancies?
  7. Are my vaccinations up to date?

Once you have answered all of these questions, then it is time to organise your life so that you can achieve a healthy weight, exercise regularly and eat a nutritious diet. Of course, as soon as you have made the decision to try to conceive, you should begin to take folic acid supplements.

When you become pregnant – your first antenatal visit

Once you think you may have conceived, the first step is to visit your GP to confirm this.

At this stage your midwife will carry out a full health assessment, which not only includes your own direct medical history but also that of your family. This will of course take into account any pre-existing conditions or genetic issues.

Additionally during this visit any personal circumstances that may be affecting your pregnancy can be discussed. You will also have the chance to ask any questions you may have, as well is been open about any concerns and a specific ideas and wishes related to your pregnancy.

The due date of your baby will be estimated and you can talk to your doctor about your ideas for antenatal care.

You will be asked for a urine sample, some blood tests will also be carried out and your blood pressure will be taken.

Your midwife will also discuss with you during your pregnancy the various screening tests are available.

Antenatal care Ireland

In Ireland, free maternity care is available to all expectant mothers. You have different options under this system, such as splitting your antenatal care between a maternity unit and your GP. Or you can decide to attend the antenatal clinic at your local hospital.

If you are working you are entitled to go to your antenatal visits, which your company should give you time of to do.

If you decide to go for the maternity and infant care scheme, whereby you attend your GP, as well as alternation this would visits to a maternity unit, then the majority of Haitians will go to see their GP before week number 12. Throughout pregnancy a further six examinations are provided by your GP, alternating with appointments in the maternity unit.

You should have been to the hospitals antenatal clinic before week 20.

However in the situation that you suffer from a significant condition, such as hypertension or diabetes, then extra visits are provided.

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