Your antenatal care

In Scotland, the NHS provides pregnancy, labour and postnatal (after birth) care. Some of this care may be in hospital, but most will probably be at a midwife hub or at home.

Antenatal care includes antenatal appointments, antenatal classes and screening tests and scans.

Your rights

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

If you’re a young parent, you've the same rights as all parents. If you feel you’re being treated differently because of your age, sexuality or any other reason, speak to your midwife or GP, or a family member you trust.

Maternity Action has more about your maternity rights.

Antenatal appointments

You’ll usually have 8 to 10 appointments during your pregnancy. Some women may need more or have appointments with other members of the healthcare team.

Your first main appointment is called your booking appointment.

It’s important to go to all of these. If you can’t make an appointment for some reason, then it’s okay to rearrange it.

Your midwife uses these appointments to:

  • check how you and your baby are doing
  • pick up any issues early

You’ll have some tests done each time, such as:

  • your blood pressure
  • a feel of your tummy
  • a urine test

At your appointment, you can:

  • ask questions
  • 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.

Growth's measured using fundal height. This is where your midwife measures your tummy from the top of your pubic bone to the top of your bump. They might also do a growth scan. The measurements are put on a chart and checked to make sure your baby's growing well.

More about how your baby develops

Antenatal classes

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

Antenatal classes (parent education classes):

  • help you prepare for being a parent
  • help you plan for the birth and the first few weeks with your baby
  • give you the chance to meet other mums and partners

The classes are a great opportunity for dads and partners to get involved too.

More about antenatal classes

Your maternity notes

All of your antenatal care's recorded in your Scottish Women-Held Maternity Record (SWHMR), or on an electronic system. If you have paper records, you’ll be given a copy to keep with you. You may be given an app to use instead, which links to your electronic record.

Your maternity notes have:

  • information about any previous pregnancies
  • your test results
  • space for you to write details of your maternity hospital and your midwife.

Some women also have their birth plan in their notes.

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 the notes with you to all your appointments
  • 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 health conditions are found, you and your baby can be treated early if it’s needed. This can help to prevent serious illness and can save lives.

More about tests in pregnancy

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.

The Scottish Government has more information on accessing care in Scotland for overseas visitors

Translations and alternative formats of this information are available from Public Health Scotland.