Antenatal care or antenatal scare?

The NHS has continued to cut back on antenatal appointments, probably for financial reasons.  But research suggests that lots of antenatal appointments are uneccessary anyway!  This makes sense really, when you think that pregnancy isn’t a disease or even a vulnerable condition. It is a healthy, normal, process, wonderfully designed and tried and tested by nature. Going to antenatal screenings and checks can reinforce the message that your body can’t do it without medicine or machines.  Here are some points worth knowing, to avoid your appointments becoming more of a “antenatal scare” than an “antenatal care”.

  • If you are told later on in pregnancy that your blood pressure is rising (in the absence of other signs of pre-eclampsia) this is normal and healthy. It just means that your body is responding to having to work harder to pump all that blood around. And boy, there is a lot more blood to pump around!
  • If you are told later on in pregnancy that your blood count has dipped to below 10, this is normal and healthy. Philip Steer, in 1995 demonstrated that women with scores of between 9 and 9.5 had the healthiest (as in heavier) babies. Not all midwives know that!
  • If you are told in your first scan that you have a low lying placenta, this is very common. Almost always, it will move out of the way of the cervix as your uterus grows. It is not the same as placenta previa. Your midwife will probably tell you this – but it is hard to hear when the sonographer has already said “you may have to have a section”.
  • If you are told that you have a “big” baby or a “small”  baby, be aware of how inaccurate late scans are for predicting this.  There is a huge margin of error – even machines aren’t accurate! 😉

(Disclaimer: please note that I am not medically qualified as a doctor, an obstetrician or a midwife, and that these comments are based on research and published literature).

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