The Booking In Appointment

The booking in appointment is when your maternity notes and care plan will be filled in and your notes then given to you to bring to further appointments.

The appointment will take place either at the hospital or your local GP's or Health Centre.

At this first meeting your height and weight may be noted. You will have your blood pressure taken and your urine tested for protein (which checks for signs of pre-eclampsia). At this meeting you will be offered screening tests to check your blood group and rhesus status, whether you have hepatitis B or C, a susceptibility for rubella, syphilis or HIV. An initial blood test can also check if you carry a risk of having a baby with Down's Syndrome, which can then be confirmed through further tests at another date.

Your midwife will also help to identify any potential risks linked with the work that you do such as working with chemicals or heavy lifting.

At this appointment you will usually be booked in for an ultrasound scan at 11 to 13 weeks and a further scan at 18-22 weeks to check the development of your baby and screen for any issues or problems.

The meeting itself can at times feel a little rushed and many women feel that checks and scans are less 'offered' but more assumed.

I am afraid to say that modern maternity care is busy and includes a great deal of box ticking. There are assumptions made that women will select all that is offered to them. Now for many women that feels perfectly right, but of course for others less so.

So before you have your booking in appointment it is always worth having a think about the maternity landscape and taking time to understand what your personal preferences for pregnancy care are. A great deal of what is being offered is just that. An offer. You do not have to do or take anything that you do not wish to. Keep in mind that you have rights in pregnancy and birth and that the tests and treatments you have now will of course influence your pregnancy and birth care in the future.

There are some fantastic resources available to you at this stage to begin to formulate how you feel about the various scans and blood tests on offer. The best book for this is Sara Wickham's 'What's Right For Me'. This will give you an overview of the maternity landscape and what informed decision making really is.

As I will repeat again and again throughout your pregnancy - if you do not wish to receive the standard conveyor belt of care then you will need to do your research about what is actually available to you. So in this meeting you can discuss hospital birth and home birth but need not select which until you have made your decision.

The booking in appointment will be your first experience of maternity care so do take the opportunity to talk and explore and really get a feel for the hospital and team that you have selected.