Your antenatal care
Our priority during your antenatal care is the health and wellbeing of you and your baby. Your care will be tailored to your needs.
Your first appointment ('booking appointment')
After we receive your referral, you will be given an appointment at around 12 weeks of pregnancy. Please attend the location specified in your appointment letter.
This first appointment will last approximately two hours. It is a good opportunity to ask any questions. Anything you say to the midwife will be confidential.
During your appointment, the midwife will record your details on the maternity computer system and in your Maternity Hand Held Record.
What we do at your first appointment
The midwife will complete a number of risk assessments and discuss your:
- current pregnancy and any previous pregnancies
- physical and mental health
- family medical history
Your height and weight are measured to calculate your body mass index (BMI). This may influence your maternity care plan. Download our leaflet on pregnancy and your weight.
You will be offered important blood screening tests (see Antenatal screening section below).
Your blood pressure and urine are also checked. Please bring a urine sample to each antenatal appointment.
The midwife will discuss current guidance on immunisations during pregnancy.
- Download the PHA leaflet on whooping cough vaccination in pregnancy.
- Download the PHA leaflet on the flu vaccine in pregnancy.
The midwife will also discuss building a relationship with you and your baby while pregnant.
- Download the PHA leaflet Getting to know your baby.
The midwife will listen to your views on feeding your baby and provide you with information.
- Download this information on feeding your baby.
The midwife will provide health information on a number of topics to help you have a healthy pregnancy and prepare yourself for childbirth.
- Download The Pregnancy Book.
Arranging future appointments
The number of future appointments will depend on:
- whether or not this is your first pregnancy
- the type of care you require
This will be explained by the midwife at your first appointment. Please refer to the diary page of your Maternity Hand Held Record.
You have the right to be paid for time off work to attend all your appointments, including scanning and antenatal education sessions.
MAT B1 form
This is a maternity certificate, which will be issued to you on request from your GP or midwife from approximately 20 weeks of pregnancy.
This is required by employees to claim maternity allowance or statutory maternity pay. For more information, see The Pregnancy Book.
At the end of your first appointment, you will be given your Maternity Hand Held Record. It is important that you bring it to each appointment. You should also bring it with you every time you go to hospital or meet with your community midwife or GP.
The booking and antenatal clinics are located on the ground floor of the maternity unit. If you are coming by car, please allow up to an hour for car parking as there may be a queue.
Space is limited in the antenatal clinic area so we can only accommodate one person to accompany you.
If you are unable to attend any antenatal appointments at the Maternity Hospital, please ring: 028 9615 1166.
Crèche in the Maternity Hospital
Crèche facilities are currently not available. Apologies for any inconvenience.
The booking and antenatal clinics are located on the ground floor of the McAuley Building (main hospital building).
If you are unable to attend any antenatal appointments at the Mater Hospital, please ring: 028 9504 1382.
At your first appointment, the midwife will discuss the screening tests available. You can refuse consent to any screening test. However, they are designed to protect you and your baby’s health.
A urine sample will be screened for asymptomatic bacteriuria at your first visit. Please bring a urine sample to each appointment for routine testing.
Blood screening tests
- Complete blood count
- Blood group and antibodies
- Blood sugar level
- Syphilis, hepatitis B and HIV infection
- Immunity to rubella (German measles)
- Sickle cell disease and thalassemia (if appropriate)
Download this important leaflet on the blood tests offered at your first antenatal appointment.
At your first appointment, the midwife will complete a number of assessments to find out your risk of developing/having:
- blood clots
- gestational diabetes
- high blood pressure
- anaemia – download our leaflet on iron deficiency anaemia in pregnancy
- a small baby
In certain circumstances, you may be referred to the Fetal Medicine Unit for further screening.
Carbon monoxide monitoring is also carried out on all women at the first appointment and 29 week appointment. Visit the Public Health Agency’s stop smoking website.
The booking scan is performed by a midwife or radiographer. This scan confirms the date your baby is due and also checks to see if you are carrying more than one baby. The scan may also pick up problems with your pregnancy that may require further investigation.
The anomaly scan is carried out by a radiographer when you are around 20 weeks pregnant. You will receive the Feeling your baby move is a sign that they are well leaflet at this appointment.
This scan checks your baby’s development and detects most major problems. We ask that only one adult accompanies you. Children are not permitted in the scan rooms.
If your placenta is found to be low at your anomaly scan, you will be offered another scan between 28 and 34 weeks of pregnancy to check its position. If you are having midwifery-led care, your midwife will arrange this appointment for you. It is important that you attend this appointment with a full bladder.
Most low-lying placentas detected at the anomaly scan will have resolved by the time the baby is born. This is because as the weeks go by, the lower part of the uterus grows and stretches and the placenta moves away from the cervix (the neck of the womb).
In a small number of women, the placenta continues to lie in the lower part of the uterus (womb) in the last few months of pregnancy. This condition is known as placenta praevia. In this case, you may need extra scans so the consultant obstetrician can assess the position of your placenta.
For more information on antenatal scanning, see The Pregnancy Book.
Blood clotting information
The two videos below and this letter provide important information you should be aware of.
The video ‘Information letter for pregnant or recently delivered women in Belfast’ talks you through the details of the letter.
The other video ‘How to self-administer enoxaparin’ is for women with risk factors and who would benefit from blood thinning injections.
If your waters break early
Download this leaflet on preterm prelabour rupture of membranes (PPROM).
You can find more information online at:
- Waters breaking early – Tommy’s website information on preterm prelabour rupture of membranes (PPROM)
- Little Heartbeats – Mothers who have experienced preterm prelabour rupture of membranes (PPROM)
- NICE guidance on preterm labour and birth