Your antenatal care

In Scotland, the NHS provides pregnancy, labour and postnatal (after birth) care.

During your pregnancy, you'll have regular antenatal (pre-birth) appointments with your midwife or obstetrician.

Some of your appointments will be face to face at a midwife hub, hospital or at home.

Other appointments may be video calls using NHS Near Me.

More information about NHS Near Me video appointments

More about antenatal care and classes during COVID-19

Your rights

You'll be given information about your rights and choices, to help you make your own decisions about treatment and care.

You have the same rights regardless of your age, sexuality, race, religion, or any other reason. If you feel you are being treated differently, speak to your midwife, GP, or a friend or family member you trust.

Maternity Action has more information about your maternity rights.

Antenatal appointments

You’ll usually have 8 to 10 different appointments during your pregnancy.

Some women may need more, or might have appointments with other members of their healthcare team.

Your first main appointment is called your booking appointment.

It’s important to go to all appointments. If you can’t attend an appointment for some reason, then it’s okay to rearrange it for another time close to the original appointment.

These appointments are important for you to build a relationship with your primary midwife. With your permission, your primary midwife will:

  • monitor how you and your baby are doing
  • support you to have the information you need to make decisions about your care, birth, and becoming a parent
  • pick up any issues or concerns early

You’ll be offered some tests each time, such as:

  • blood pressure
  • growth check
  • a urine test

At your appointment, you can:

  • ask questions
  • talk about your options throughout pregnancy, birth and after you have your baby
  • explore any benefits or risks
  • be supported to make decisions that feel right for you and your baby
  • get advice and support about anything you’re worried about
  • talk about how you’re getting on

Growth checks

How a baby grows is different for each woman, and your midwife will do a growth check at each antenatal visit.

One way growth is measured is by measuring the size of your womb or baby bump. This is known as fundal height. The measurements are recorded on a chart and can be used to monitor how your baby is growing.

You might also be offered a growth scan. If you are offered a growth scan, your midwife will explain why.

Read more about how your baby develops

Antenatal classes

Your midwife will tell you about antenatal classes at your appointments.

Antenatal classes, often called parent education classes, will:

  • help you prepare for being a parent
  • help you plan for the birth and the first few weeks with your baby

The classes are a great opportunity for dads, partners or any person you choose to support you to get involved too.

Groups and classes may be in person or may be virtual, so you can access them on your phone, tablet, or laptop.

Learn more about antenatal classes during COVID-19

Your maternity notes

All of your antenatal care is recorded in your electronic Scottish Women-Held Maternity Record (SWHMR), commonly known as maternity notes. You may be given an app to use instead, which links to your electronic record.

Ask your midwife to go through your maternity notes with you on the app or on paper.

Your maternity notes have information about:

  • any previous pregnancies
  • your current and previous health and wellbeing
  • your test results
  • how your baby is growing and your pregnancy is progressing
  • your maternity unit, your primary midwife and how to contact them
  • your ongoing plan of care
  • your birth plan

You might see medical words and abbreviations in the record. If you’re not sure what these mean or if you want more information, ask your midwife to explain.

Looking after your notes

You should:

  • take your maternity notes with you to all your appointments (whether they're on paper or an app)
  • keep them in a safe place
  • have them with you when labour starts
  • take them with you if you’re away from home for any length of time

This helps to make sure all health professionals that care for you know how your pregnancy has been, so they can give you the best possible care.

Screening tests and scans

You’ll be offered tests during your pregnancy to make sure you and your baby are healthy and well.

If any issues or health conditions are found, this will be discussed with you. You’ll be supported to make choices that feel right for you and your baby.

Screening tests and scans can also help you and your baby be monitored more often and receive treatment quickly, if it’s needed. This can help to prevent serious illness and can save lives.

Read more about tests in pregnancy

Home blood pressure and urine monitoring

Your blood pressure and urine will be checked regularly throughout your pregnancy.

Your maternity care team may discuss home monitoring with you and help you decide whether it feels right for you and your baby.

More about home blood pressure and urine monitoring

Paying for care

If you don't usually live in Scotland, you'll probably have to pay for NHS maternity care, although there are a few exceptions to this.

You must not be refused treatment or have it delayed because you need to pay.

Read information from the Scottish Government on accessing care for overseas visitors